Heartworm in Dogs: Symptoms, Prevention & Medications


heartworm prevention in dogs

Heartworm

Once the larvae are inside the dog, they travel through the bloodstream to the heart and lungs, where they mature into adults. The adult heartworms then reproduce, and the cycle starts over again. Heartworm infection is a serious and potentially fatal condition that can cause severe damage to the heart, lungs, and other organs.

Symptoms of Heartworm in Dogs

A dog standing on grass

Symptoms of heartworm in dogs can be difficult to spot in the early stages. A dog may seem tired and have a reduced appetite. In the early stages of heartworm infection, there may be no symptoms at all. As the worms mature and reproduce, however, symptoms will begin to appear.

As the heartworm infection progresses, symptoms may include coughing, exercise intolerance, difficulty breathing, and an enlarged heart. In severe cases, heart failure can occur or death may occur.

Heartworm is transmitted through mosquito bites – infected mosquitoes transmit heartworm larvae to dogs when they bite them. The larvae travel through the dog’s bloodstream and mature into adult heartworms over the course of several months.

Prevention of Heartworm in Dogs

A group of women standing next to a dog

Prevention is the best medicine when it comes to heartworm in dogs. There are a number of heartworm prevention medications available, and your veterinarian can help you choose the best one for your dog based on their health, age, and lifestyle.

Heartworm preventative medication is most effective when given to your dog monthly, year-round. This ensures that they are protected against heartworm larvae even during the winter months when mosquitoes are less active. It’s important to note that heartworm prevention medication does not kill adult heartworms – it only prevents heartworm larvae from developing into adults.

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There are a number of heartworm prevention medications available on the market, and your veterinarian can help you choose the best one for your dog. The most common heartworm preventatives are oral tablets or chewable, topical liquids, and injectable solutions.

Oral heartworm preventatives are the most popular option for heartworm prevention in dogs. They are easy to give and are usually flavored, so dogs don’t mind taking them. Most oral heartworm preventives also protect against other parasites, such as roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms.

Topical heartworm preventatives are applied to the skin on the back of your dog’s neck. They are usually less expensive than oral heartworm preventatives, but they require a more frequent application (usually monthly).

Injectable heartworm preventatives are given by your veterinarian every 6 months. They are a good option for dogs who don’t like taking pills or who are resistant to topical heartworm preventatives.

No matter which heartworm preventive you choose, it’s important to give it to your dog as directed and to keep up with the monthly or biannual treatments. This will ensure that your dog is protected against heartworm disease.

Medications Used for Heartworm Prevention in Dogs

Medications used for heartworm prevention in dogs are typically given monthly, either orally or topically. The most common and effective heartworm preventive medication is ivermectin, which is given as a pill, chewable tablet, or topical solution. Ivermectin works by killing the heartworm larvae before they mature into adults and can cause damage to the heart and lungs. Other heartworm preventive medications include milbemycin oxime, selamectin, and moxidectin. These medications are generally well-tolerated by most dogs, but side effects can include gastrointestinal upset, vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. Talk to your veterinarian about which heartworm preventive medication is right for your dog.

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Conclusion

Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal condition that affects dogs. Heartworms are long, thin worms that live in the heart and lungs of infected animals. They are transmitted by mosquitoes, and infection can occur even if your dog never goes outside. Symptoms of heartworm disease include coughing, exercise intolerance, difficulty breathing, and weight loss. If left untreated, heartworm disease can be fatal.

The best way to protect your dog against heartworm disease is to give them heartworm prevention medication every month, year-round. There are a number of heartworm preventives available on the market, and your veterinarian can help you choose the best one for your dog. Heartworm disease is a serious condition, but it is preventable with the proper medication and care.

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