In the United States alone, it’s estimated that we own between 70-80 million dogs. For many of us, our dogs (and pets, generally) are like our family. Indeed, a PetFinder.com poll showed that over 60% of dog owners gave their dog a Christmas present. We want to keep our dogs safe and healthy and one way to effectively do so is to take preventive measures, such as investing in heartworm treatment or looking into flea and tick prevention. If you suspect your dog may have heartworm, obtaining a canine heartworm antigen test kit and visiting your veterinarian immediately is imperative. A canine heartworm antigen test kit will confirm the results and if your dog does have heartworm, your vet can then choose a course of action. Taking preventive measures can save you worry and money down the line.
What Are Heartworms and Why Are They Bad?
Heartworms are foot-long worms that take up residence in the heart (and eventually lungs and other blood vessels that connect to those organs). They’re often transmitted by mosquitoes who collect the blood from an already infected animal.
Heartworms can cause lung disease, organ damage, and ultimately heart failure to your pet. Heartworms can grow, mate, and reproduce within your dog, as those are optimal conditions for heartworms to live in. In fact, if you don’t treat your dog for heartworms, several hundred could take up residence inside your pet — and even after treatment, heartworm disease can affect their health. Furthermore, full grown heartworms can live up to seven years in your dog’s body! You want to nip them in the bud early on by getting treatment as soon as you suspect something might be wrong.
What Should I Do if My Dog Has Heartworms?
Sadly around one million dogs turn up as heartworm positive annually in the United States. If your dog is one of them, you should take them to the vet immediately, where the vet can administer a canine heartworm antigen test kit. Testing to find out certain results about whether your pet has heartworms or not is crucial. If it’s positive, then the vet will start rounds of steroids, heartworm preventive medication, and antibiotics to make sure that the heartworms are killed in all forms.
After that course, the treatment to kill off the adult heartworms begins, which can last up to 60 days. The medicine is injected and your dog will need to stay with the vet for observation, in case there are complications with the treatment. Even after all that, you should bring your pup into the vet six months later to make sure he or she is heartworm free.
Quick, decisive action can make a huge difference in the quality of life and overall health of your dog. If you have a furry feline at home too, also bear in mind that cats can also get heartworms — and only a few are needed to make them quite sick.
What are Preventive Measures I Can Take?
Your pet should be tested for heartworms every year, even if they’re on preventive medicine and if they’ve never had heartworms before. The larvae that live in the blood can often be found during a routine test and never allowed to reach full growth, where they can reproduce and do serious damage. Just like we need check-ups with our doctors, our pets need theirs as well!
Your vet may also prescribe other preventive heartworm medication that should be administered monthly, which kill the larvae. If you’re apprehensive about cost, consider this: treating for heartworm can cost as much as $1,000, whereas monthly preventive care can cost anywhere between $5-15 a month, making it a bargain.
Additionally, some preventive heartworm medication is bundled, and also offers protection against hookworms, roundworms, or fleas. Medication come come in oral, topical, or chewable form.
With the right prevention techniques, you may never have to anxiously wait for the results of a canine heartworm antigen test kit. Reduce your worry and keep your pet’s quality of life high by acting now.Share This : by