MJ Wixsom: Heartworm disease making a comeback

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 23, 2023

In the past month, we have diagnosed four dogs with heartworm disease. That hasn’t happened for decades!

Tucker is the first to start treatment. Tucker is a great pyrenees with heartworm disease.

The treatment for heartworm disease is a multi-step process that involves a series of injections to kill the adult worms. The injections are usually given in the muscles of the dog’s back and are administered under close veterinary supervision.

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The treatment can take several months to complete and may require multiple visits to the vet.

Heartworm disease is a potentially deadly condition that affects dogs and cats. It is caused by a parasitic worm called Dirofilaria immitis, which is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. Once inside the animal’s body, the worms mature and reproduce, leading to damage of the heart, lungs and other vital organs. In severe cases, heartworm disease can be fatal.

During the treatment process, it’s important to limit Tucker’s activity and exercise to prevent any additional strain on his heart and lungs. He may also need to take medication to manage any pain or discomfort caused by the treatment.

It’s important to note that while heartworm treatment can be effective, it can also be risky, especially for dogs with advanced cases of the disease. The dead worms can cause a severe inflammatory reaction in the lungs and blood vessels, which can lead to complications such as coughing, difficulty breathing, and even death.

To minimize the risk of complications, it’s important to closely monitor Tucker during the treatment process and follow all of your veterinarian’s instructions.

This may include keeping him quiet and confined to a crate or small room for several weeks following the injections.

Once the treatment is complete, Tucker will need to be retested for heartworms to ensure that all of the worms have been eliminated. He may also need to continue taking a monthly heartworm preventative to prevent any new infections.

Unfortunately, heartworm disease is not uncommon, and it can be difficult to detect in its early stages. In fact, many animals may not show any symptoms until the disease has progressed significantly. This is why it’s crucial for pet owners to take preventive measures to protect their furry friends.

The good news is that heartworm disease is easily preventable with the use of monthly heartworm preventatives. These medications work by killing the immature heartworms that may have been transmitted to your pet by an infected mosquito before they have a chance to mature into adult worms.

It’s important to note that heartworm preventatives should be given year-round, even in areas where mosquitoes are less active during the colder months. This is because heartworms have a long life cycle and can continue to mature even in colder temperatures. By giving your pet a monthly heartworm preventative, you can rest assured that they are protected against this dangerous disease.

In addition to protecting against heartworms, many of these preventatives also offer protection against other internal parasites, such as roundworms and hookworms. These parasites can also cause serious health problems in pets, so preventing their infestation is equally important.

If you’re concerned about the recent cases of heartworm disease in your area, now is the time to take action. Talk to your veterinarian about the best heartworm preventative for your pet and make sure you’re using it consistently.

By taking a proactive approach to your pet’s health, you can help ensure that they live a long, healthy and happy life.

Overall, while heartworm treatment can be challenging, it is often successful in curing the disease and preventing further health complications. With proper care and attention, Tucker can recover from heartworm disease and enjoy a long and healthy life.

MJ Wixsom, DVM MS is a best-selling Amazon author who practices at Guardian Animal Medical Center in Flatwoods, Ky. GuardianAnimal.com 606-928-6566