Heartworm or Dirofilaria immitis is a parasitic nematode which usually spreads from host to host through the bites of mosquitoes. The severity of this disease depends on the number of worms present in the body of the host as well as the way the body of the host responds. This particular variety of worms are majorly found in geographic areas with subtropical and tropical climates. They are also found along the Ohio and Mississippi river basins as well as in Atlantic and Gulf Coasts.
Once a dog is bitten by an infected mosquito, it takes around seven months for the larvae to grow into a mature heartworm. Gradually they start extending their shelter in the lungs, heart and adjacent blood vessels and start reproducing. An adult heartworm can be as long as 12 inches and can live up to 5-7 years. A dog can host as many as 250 worms in its system.
The symptoms of heartworm infestations in dogs
Initially, no such symptoms are seen in case of heartworm infestations. But, eventually as the number of worms around the lung and heart starts growing, your dog is very likely to grow a cough. If it remains untreated, your dog will not be able to remain playful like before. It will feel fatigued and with the growing number of heartworms, abnormal sounds from lung can be heard. In such a situation, if the bad health of your dog remains unnoticed, it will definitely die.
Treatment for heartworms
The treatment of heartworm varies from dog to dog. The vet evaluates and see what method should be applied. The dogs in the third stage heartworm disease, are mostly taken through surgical removal of some of the heartworms. If the situation is not that intense, the vet can prescribe some effective medicines which need to be administered once in a month. Heartgard and Heartgard Plus are two such effective medicines which need to be administered once in a month. It is easier to administer because it comes in chewable form and tastes yum because of its beef intake. But, it is always advised to consult your vet before deciding on the medicines of heartworm.