Dogs are at risk from a wide variety of internal parasites, some of which can prove to be fatal in some cases. Heartworm is a particularly nasty parasite, and is transmitted via mosquito bites. These parasitic worms can grow up to twelve inches long, and the danger they pose is that they wrap themselves around the heart valves which can result in heart failure or death.
The symptoms that a dog with heartworm may portray include a dry cough, weight loss, dull coat, swollen abdomen and intolerance to exercise and physical activity. The condition can be confirmed by a simple blood test. However, the condition can be stopped through the use of preventative medicine.
Heartworm can cause your dog considerable pain and suffering, as well as posing the risk of death. Prevention of this sort of parasite is so simple that there is no reason why it should get to the stage of infestation. Good preventative care will save your bellowed pet a great deal of trouble and misery, and in the long run will save you heartache and money.
Most heartworm preventative medication comes in simple tablet or ointment form and this only needs to be administered around once a month. Five minutes once monthly is all it takes to ensure that you dog does not become victim to this killer parasite – a small price to pay by any standards. The medication works by killing the infected larvae that is injected in to the dog following a mosquito bite. However, it is important to check that your dog does not already have heartworm by the time the preventative treatment is given otherwise the reactions could be severe. Heartworm preventatives are only available through your vet, and it is important that you get your vet to check the dog over before giving him any medicine to ensure that there is no sign of heartworm.
Leaving your dog untreated not only puts your dog at risk, but also puts others’ pets at risk. If a mosquito bites an infected dog and then goes and bites another animal, that animal will then also become infected. Without proper preventative care, this dangerous disease can quickly get out of control in heartworm endemic areas, causing distress and destruction in the lives of many families.
If you are worried about forgetting to give your dog his monthly preventative medication, you can also ask your vet about six-monthly injections. These are as effective as the ointment and tablets, and also save you the worry of having to medicate your dog on a monthly basis. However, it is also worth getting your dog tested every couple of years for heartworm, even if he has been regularly medicated against this condition. This will ensure that if any problem slips through the net, it is caught early and treated in a timely manner.
Remember, using preventative medicine is a fast, easy and effective way of making sure that your dog doesn’t have to endure the pain and risk associated with heartworm. Waiting until your dog has contracted the disease will entail unnecessary suffering for your dog. It is also difficult to treat the infection and your dog may have to be admitted as an inpatient as well as having to take strong drugs. And, to add insult to injury, you will end up shelling out far more cash than you would have for the simple preventative medication.
So, make sure you don’t put your dog’s life at risk, and get him started on a preventative care plan as soon as possible. Most dogs can start preventative care from eight weeks of age, and your vet can advise you on which form of treatment will be best suited to him.
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