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One of the year-round tasks that every responsible dog owner must bear in mind is heartworm prevention. Despite the availability of Heartworm Treatment in League City, it is much better to prevent your pooch from these fatal parasites than to subject him to treatment.
It is also essential to know what heartworms are so that you can take adequate measures to protect your canine friend.
Heartworms: What are they?
Heartworms (Dirofilaria immitis) is a form of parasitic roundworms which can mature into an adult, mate, and even produce offspring while living in a host such as a dog. They usually infest the blood vessels, muscles, the lungs, the pulmonary artery as well as the heart.
Adult heartworm – which can live inside dogs for up to 7 years, thereby going through several reproductive cycles – usually looks like cooked spaghetti.
The male heartworm reaches up to 9 inches while the female is about 12 inches long. These fatal parasites can trigger a variety of health problems when they are found in your dog.
How Dogs Get Heartworms
Heartworms can only be transmitted via one channel, and that is through an infected skeeter or mosquito. You may be surprised – and relieved – to discover that infected dogs can’t transmit these parasites to other dogs.
This is because mosquitoes – which are the intermediate hosts – are the best hosts for heartworms to develop to what is known as the “infective stage.”
At this stage, the larvae of the parasites mature along with with the vector that transports parasites to not only dogs but also cats, ferrets as well as other mammals.
Heartworm usually goes through a long-drawn-out series of immature (larval) stages before it becomes an adult. The first larval stage exists in dogs that are already infected and carry baby worms (microfilaria) in their bloodstream.
When a mosquito bites an infected dog, the first larval stage baby parasite migrates to the mosquito. This is where the larvae complete two additional larval stages which span a period of 10 to 14 days. And this is when they enter the infective stage.
Now, when the infected mosquito feeds on a dog, they end up leaving a wound caused by the bite, thereby creating the path via which the larvae enter their new host. They continue their progression of growth, and by the end of 6 months, they would have grown to full maturity.
However, during the progression of the larval into adulthood, they infect areas around the dog’s lungs and heart.
And when the adult heartworms reach breeding age, they procreate by producing a new set of larvae. Then the entire cycle repeats itself.
Heartworms are fatal, and all the 50 states in the United States have, at one time or the other, reported the disease.
This will, no doubt, change the way you view mosquitoes, especially if you own a dog and reside in an area where they breed excessively.
Symptoms of Heartworms in Dogs
Determining whether or not a dog has heartworms via observation is difficult. But the following pointers should be more than enough to let you know that your dog could be infected with the parasites:
- Persistent cough during exercise
- Weight loss
- Difficulty in breathing
- Collapsing or fainting spells
- Drastic changes in appetite
- Asthmatic symptoms
You shouldn’t diagnose your pooch without the help of an affordable vet in Houston TX, as these symptoms can easily be confused with that of other ailments.
How to Protect Your Dogs from Heartworms
So, is there a way you can adequately protect your dog from heartworms? Even though you can Google “heartworm treatment for dogs” or “low-cost heartworm treatment near me,” the truth is that it is far cheaper and less time-consuming to prevent the occurrence of this disease than to consider treatment options when the parasites strike.
So here are recommendations – from vets in League City TX – that you can follow to protect your pet from heartworms:
Use Preventive Medication
This is also effective but should be administered by certified veterinarians in League City TX. This is because severe problems may arise if your dog already has adult heartworms.
Frequent Veterinarian Visits
You can schedule your dog for his quarterly or six-monthly checkup with any low cost vet Houston.
Minimize Bugs in Your Yard
Spray your yard with pet-friendly insecticides to keep bugs away from your pooch.
Keep Your Home Free from Mosquitoes
Discard empty containers, flower pots, etc. left outside as mosquitoes breed in stagnant water. Clear off rain gutters as well.
Prevention, they say, say is always better than cure. Protect your dog from heartworms, and you won’t have to search for an emergency vet in Houston.