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Heartworm Prevention Is Much Better Than The Cure

Apr 11, 2008
Heartworm is a particularly dangerous parasite that is spread from host to host via mosquitoes. A long thin worm known as filaris is commonly known to be found in dogs; many don't realize that they can also infect other animals such as sea lions, wolves, coyotes, ferrets, cats and shockingly, humans as well. The worm was named after its habit in the last stage of its reproductive cycle of taking up residence in heart of its host.

Without treatment, the afflicted animal will have increasing difficulty exerting itself, perhaps losing its breath or even passing out when under duress. At the end, the animal can die as a result of heart failure or failure of the kidneys, lungs or liver, as the parasites can also cause damage to these vital organs.

Treatment is lengthy and can take a year and a half to complete. This is usually comprised of several courses of highly potent anti-heartworm medications, including the use of a dangerous arsenic compound, to kill the parasites. In some cases, surgery may be necessary; each of these options may cause the animal great suffering. The animal may be totally asymptomatic for the greatest part of the infection.

There are no noticeable symptoms of this infection during most of the infectious period. The dog heartworm has a lifespan of about 6 to 7 months, starting from the time when the animal is first infected via mosquito bite, all the way to the parasite invading the heart. When mature, the females can reach 30cm in length while the males tend more toward 23cm. Mating occurs after seven months, and the females will have started producing microfilariae. Though heart worms used to only affect the warmer climates in southern parts of the world, they now affect any place that is habitable for mosquitoes.

Obviously, prevention of heartworms is far simpler and more effective than treatment after infection. Heartgard, a monthly prophylactic medication, contains ivermectin, a broad-spectrum anti-parasitic. Heartgard is popular for its ease of use, its relative inexpensiveness, and its effectiveness.

Milbemycin, which is the active ingredient in the heartworm treatment Interceptor, and moxidectin, which is the active ingredient in ProHeart, are two other heartworm preventatives. Heartgard Plus is the most popular anti-heartworm medication.

Heartworm and other parasites can also be treated by using a topical application such as Revolution, which is not only a heartworm control, but also a program of flea control and parasite control. Heartworm protection is very effective thankfully, so there is no need for your pet to be adversely affected. Consult your vet to get your dog checked out.

Medications can prevent and cure the infection, but a blood test is the most common form of diagnosis first. If your animal is found to be infected, an x-ray will show the extent of the damage that has been caused. Heartworm pills or injections can be prescribed, but as with anything, heart worm, flea, ticks or any other health condition, prevention is much better than cure.

Get informed by discussing canine heartworm with your vet at your dog's next visit. Treatment of a heartworm infestation can exceed thousands of dollars, and may not always be effective. It's much more economically and health savvy to be proactive and focus on prevention.
About the Author
Author Rebecca Foxton wants to help you bring your pet brilliant health with Heartgard Plus. Check out her nutrition tips for people with dogs and cats and visit her FortiFlora article series on Dog Buffs.
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