Heartworm disease is transmitted from dog to dog by mosquitoes. Mosquitoes bite an infected dog, and in doing so, pick up young heartworms and then transfer them to another dog when they bite it. Heartworms settle in the heart and large vessels to the lungs and can cause severe disease and are fatal if left untreated.
What are the symptoms of heartworm in a dog?
In the early stages of heartworm disease, you probably won’t even know your dog is affected. As the disease progresses, the first sign you will notice is a cough. You may also notice your dog’s appetite decreasing, or your dog may have less energy than normal.
How do dogs get heartworm?
Mosquitoes transmit heartworm disease between dogs. When an infected dog is bitten by a mosquito, that mosquito picks up immature heartworms. Those “baby” heartworms are then transferred to another dog when the mosquito bites it.
What are the treatment options for heartworm?
According to the American Heartworm Society, the treatment for dogs with heartworm disease involves a series of three deep muscle injections spaced approximately one month apart. Other medications are often given during this time to help alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with the treatment.
Why is recovery and heartworm treatment challenging?
Treating heartworm disease has many challenges. Giving the deep intramuscular injections are very painful. During the recovery phase, your dog’s activity must be severely restricted. Due to the nature of the way heartworms die during the therapy, there is the potential for an anaphylactic reaction to occur, or for an embolus (or clot) to form, leading to an emergency situation.