Dogs are the most beloved pet for many people, and for good reason. They are renowned for being man’s best friend through thousands of years of breeding and human contact. We only want the best for our dogs, and when they become sick or wounded, we go to great lengths to ensure that they get the treatment they deserve.
If you are lucky enough to be a dog owner, there is one disease that you should become more familiar with in the unfortunate event that your pet becomes afflicted with it. Heartworm disease has seemingly become more prevalent in dogs, but it has existed for as long as dogs have been a species. Your vet will likely regularly check your dog for heartworm disease, but it is worth it to get familiar with its symptoms just in case your dog should come down with this potentially deadly disorder.
What Is Heartworm Disease?
Heartworm disease is a parasitic infection that can result in organ failure in dogs, cats, and ferrets, among other mammals. In fact, the disease gets its name because the adult parasites live in the heart of the dog, as well as the other organs. It is spread through mosquito bites, making it easily transmittable, especially in the summer. The mosquito acts as what is known as an intermediate host, meaning that the parasitic worms live inside of it for a short time.
Your dog is the definitive host, meaning that the worms will mature while living inside of it, producing offspring and spreading throughout the dog’s body. It is most prevalent along the east coast states, but is known to be found near any body of water, making it relatively common along the west coast too. Mosquitoes thrive near water and humidity, bringing heartworm disease with them.
How Do I Know If My Dog Has Heartworm Disease?
The trouble is that a dog may appear healthy from the outside, but heartworms may be living and multiplying inside of it, undetectable to its owners. By the time visible symptoms begin to show, the dog’s condition will deteriorate at a faster rate. Therefore, it is of great importance to begin preventative treatment for heartworm disease as soon as you get your dog.
Once your dog reaches the age of seven months, it should be tested for the presence of heartworms before beginning heartworm prevention treatment. This is extremely important; if your dog has adult heartworms and is given a preventative, it will likely have adverse effects and may even kill your pet.
There are 4 stages of heartworm disease in dogs, divided into classes. Class 1 doesn’t show any symptoms. The disease starts showing itself in Class 2, exhibiting minor signs like an occasional cough and overall sluggishness. These symptoms only reliably manifest in Class 3, with the cough becoming more persistent, along with a reluctance to engage in any sort of exercise or activity. Signs of heart failure also become more prevalent during this period of infection. Class 4 is when things start to become truly life-threatening. This stage of infection is also known as caval syndrome. At this point, the only option you have as an owner is to bring your dog to a reliable veterinarian for surgery to remove the heartworms. This is its only chance for survival.
Finding a Veterinarian in Simi Valley
Bringing your pet in to a new vet can be stressful for both the dog and the owner. Luckily, if you live in the Simi Valley area, you have one of the best veterinarians in the state of California right in your backyard. Dr. Ron’s Animal Hospital & Emergency employs a team of experienced veterinarians that will be there for you during a tough time for your family. In order to prevent heartworm disease in your dog, bring it in for preventative treatment right away.
Dr. Ron’s Animal Hospital has been proudly serving Simi Valley, Moorpark, Thousand Oaks, Chatsworth, and the areas nearby Ventura County for the past decade. Their staff understands that trusting your dog to a stranger is no small task, and they will take the greatest of care of your dog to ensure that heartworm disease will never rear its ugly head in your pet’s body. You cannot afford to delay the preventative treatment needed to keep your dog heartworm free. Bring your pet to Dr. Ron’s Animal Hospital at your earliest convenience.
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