How do dogs get heartworm?

How do dogs get heartworm? Dogs get heartworm through mosquitoes. Heartworm is a parasitic disease that enters into the body of a dog through mosquitoes that have got it from another infected animal. The deadly infection spreads through mosquitoes when they transfer the invisible larva inside the skin of an animal. The Worm basically grows and reproduces inside the animal skin. the larva can grow from 5 to 12 inches and the disease transfers from the blood vessels to the heart and lungs of the dog causing severe damage even before showing any symptoms.

What is Heartworm

The parasite that causes heartworm disease is called “Dirofilaria immitis”. Heartworm can be fatal as it targets the vital organs of the dog causing the whole body to be affected before and even after the disease is cured. The damage caused by heartworm disease in dogs and other animals cannot be recovered but proper treatment can save the dog from dying. Although life even after the disease is cured won’t be the same as it was before because heartworm can cause permanent damage to arteries, heart, and lungs Which can clearly affect the quality of life. But if not treated properly can cause potential death.

Heartworm(lifecycle of larvae)

Pet owners are concerned as they should be because of deadly diseases like heartworm. Although this disease can be cured and prevented through medicines to keep these worms out of your dog’s heart one needs to know about the details and process of development.

The detailed answer to how dogs get heartworm is when a mosquito bites an infected dog, the heartworm goes straight inside a mosquito and develops there as parasites, and the mosquito works as a host. The same mosquito then transfers the worm larvae inside another healthy dog by biting it, after that the larvae mature inside the dog and the female worm starts to mate by reproducing more worms. it takes 6 to 7 months For the worms to become adults and to reach the vital organs. After a fully developed worm reaches the heart and other vital organs, the dog is then diagnosed with heartworm disease. causing permanent damage to organs and if not treated it ends up killing the animal.

How do dogs get heartworm

Symptoms of heartworm in dogs

Keep in mind that not all dogs show clear symptoms of having heartworm. Your dog might show one of the symptoms below or it might show all of them or none at all. Heartworm is basically diagnosed through a blood test but if the dog shows any of these symptoms you should immediately take it to a veterinarian.

  1. Dry cough
    If your dog is coughing like something is stuck in its throat every other minute that can be a sign of heartworm disease. Dry cough can be a symptom alone to show the existence of the disease.

  2. Respiratory issues
    If the dog faces difficulty breathing or breathing gets rapid, it’s one of the signs your dog has heartworm disease. As it affects the lungs directly and rapidly the moment the parasite enters the body.

  3. Loss of appetite
    Heartworm in dogs can be the cause of unhealthy eating habits and loss of appetite. Due to the disease your dog might lose weight rapidly which is concerning enough and should be taken to a veterinarian immediately.

  4. Fatigue
    One of the symptoms is that your dog will get tired after minimum exercise and will not engage in any physical activity. This abnormal fatigue in your dog is an alarming sign of heartworm disease.

  5. Inflated belly
    If your dog has a swollen or inflated belly you should immediately take your pet to a veterinarian for taking a blood test. The swollen belly occurs because of the excess fluid in the abdomen which indicates heartworm disease.

  6. Skin rashes and nosebleeds
    One of the symptoms that are rarely seen in dogs is nose bleeds and unusual bleeding which indicates heartworm disease. unexpected bruises and skin rashes appear when the dog has the disease. It is not normal for dogs to have allergic reactions out of nowhere.

  7. dark or bloody urine
    One of the alarming signs of heartworm disease is that your dog will urinate bloody discharge or darker than usual. if you see any of these signs take your dog immediately to the veterinarian to take some tests.

  8. Fainting
    The presence of heartworms can lead to blockage of blood to the brain which causes unconsciousness and fainting. the heartworms attack the vital organs which can easily give out symptoms like Collapsing and brain damage in rare cases.

  9. Pale gums
    The loss of blood and blockage of blood flow happens due to these deadly parasites. Pale gums are one of the common symptoms of heartworm disease. You can notice the symptom when they eat and chew on stuff.

  10. Medical tests
    After witnessing these symptoms or even just one of these symptoms you should take your dog to the veterinarian and get the tests taken to diagnose your dog. the following tests are taken for the official diagnoses.

  • complete blood cell count

  • Blood chemistry panel

  • Chest X rays

  • Urinalysis

How to prevent heartworm in dogs

I’m sure all of the pet owners would be impatiently waiting to know how to prevent their dogs from getting a deadly disease like heartworm. The answer is that there are several ways you can prevent the invisible parasite from entering your pet’s body and prevention is the best cure. After knowing that heartworm can severely affect an animal’s health even after it’s cured. so following are some of the ways to prevent the disease.

1.Veterinarian’s prescription

Every different breed of dog has its unique immune system and all are totally different when it comes to taking medicines. Not all dogs can take the same medication and for that, you need to learn more about your dog’s breed and health. After taking all the possible medical check-up of your dog, the veterinarian will prescribe a monthly or yearly oral or medication or injection for your dog to keep it healthy and prevent the heartworm disease from penetrating its skin.

2. Clean and healthy food

Having a healthy diet is one of the basic ways to prevent any fatal disease in dogs. Home-cooked food is the best option although it does sounds time taking but it’s the most important part of their health. Make a plan for a week’s worth of food for your pet and it will be easy for you to keep it going until you make a habit of feeding your dog a clean and home-cooked healthy meal and there is no way your dog can get a fatal disease if you keep the healthy feeding a habit.

3. Avoid mosquito exposure

It is hard to completely avoid mosquitoes as they’re very small and can sneak inside your house. But what we can do is to minimize the outdoor activity for dogs when we know it’s the season when mosquitoes are in most action. Keep the pets inside in humid weather especially because that’s a time when diseases spread more frequently. Heartworm is less likely to be common in cold places as the mosquitoes are more active and reproduce more in warm climates. Keep your pets out of the places where there is dirt and standing water. These minimal preventive measures can help in the long run and are the basic steps to avoid mosquitoes from transferring the disease.

4. Yearly preventive medicines

Regular check-up from a Veterinarian is essential to keeping track of your dog’s health. Some medicines are used to prevent deadly diseases like heartworm but yearly preventive medicine is the best way and the most effective way of keeping the disease away. Melarsomine is the US Food and Drug Administration’s approved medicine for dogs to prevent heartworm disease. Melarsomine is an antiparasitic medicine used for treating dogs suffering from heartworm disease or to prevent the disease. Melarsomine is only safe for dogs and should not be used for any other animal.

5. Eliminate Stillwater

The main reason for the over the reproduction of mosquitoes is through still and standing water. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in Stillwater and if you live near standing water is then you should be concerned about your pets getting heartworm or any other disease through mosquitoes. the first step to eliminate this is that you should get rid of the standing water near your house and dry the place. after getting rid of the water disinfect the area so that the remaining eggs of mosquitoes are eliminated. Repair the source of the damage that caused there’s still water in the area a rebuild to prevent further water problems. eliminating Stillwater around your house is the best and basic way to prevent mosquitoes. After this process, you are safe for the long term.

6. Mosquito repellents

Well, it’s not easy to keep your dog 100 percent away from mosquitoes because they can also be present in your house. so to give complete protection from mosquitoes there are some natural mosquito repellent sprays for your dogs that commonly have ingredients such as basil, catnip, lavender, lemon balm, and Rosemary. These are the natural ingredients that work as a mosquito repellent for dogs and are harmless to use. mostly these ingredients don’t create allergies but if you want something more reliable you can also use some drugstore mosquito repellents but make sure the ingredients that are used in the spray are not harmful to your dog.

7. Ivermectin

Ivermectin is preventive medicine for heartworm in dogs and cats. Ivermectin is an anti-parasitic medicine and can be taken orally with or without food. It can also be injectable in some cases, contact your veterinarian and give the medicine to your dog as prescribed by the professional. Ivermectin Is potentially a heavy medicine and should not be used in younger dogs like 6-month-olds and so.

How do dogs get heartworm

Heartworm Treatment

Melarsomine is an injectable drug that is used to prevent and cure heartworm disease in dogs for proper treatment. The dosage should be prescribed by the veterinarian depending on the size and age of the dog. An adult heartworm can be found in some circulatory areas The heart, pulmonary arteries, vessels, and rarely in some other areas of the circulatory system.

When a dog is diagnosed with heartworm disease typically 300 female worms are found in the body. Melarsomine kills the heartworms that have already made their way into the vital organs of the dog. For minor cases, an antibiotic (doxycycline) Is also used for the treatment of early stages of heartworm disease.

Treatment for microfilariae

In the early stages of heartworm disease when the infection reaches the body of a healthy dog through mosquitoes the larva needs to be killed Before It turns into an adult worm. Your dog might get some injections to kill the larvae before or after the treatment. The dog will get a series of injections after the heartworm disease is treated because if a larva is left inside the body it can grow back into adult heartworm and can be fatal and cause death. Ivermectin is an antiparasitic drug and is one of the examples of the treatment of microfilariae.

How dogs get heartworm

Post-melarsomine treatment

After the dog has been injected with melarsomine and the treatment is complete to kill the heartworm, a proper series of preventive measures should be taken to eliminate the side effects of heartworm as the disease can cause serious damage to the heart vital organs. Other antibiotics and pain relief treatments should be taken after melarsomine intake.

Antibiotics, pain relief, and special diets are taken into consideration for the dogs that got treated with melarsomine. low salt diets are given to dogs with heartworm disease because their organs have weakened and have to take diuretics for heart failure.

One of the drugs that are used post-melarsomine treatment is ACE Inhibitors To relax the arteries And lowers blood pressure. Beta-blockers and cardiac glycosides are given to relieve depression and to keep proper pumping of the heart.

Improvement after melarsomine treatment

To treat a deadly disease like heartworm is a huge achievement to have a drug like Melarsomine that can cure a dog of heartworm. In some cases, even after the treatment the dogs don’t regain their vitality and go through health problems like weight loss and permanent medical prescriptions but surprisingly some dog owners have reported that after the treatment their dogs gained vitality and notice an improved appetite with significant weight gain.

This tells a lot about the improvement of the drug melarsomine and the chances of survival after heartworm disease. In some rare cases, there are side effects of the drug but it is only because of the severity of the disease which shortens the lifespan of the affected dog. otherwise, the drug has shown positive results in dogs so far.

Myths and facts on heartworm disease

It’s a fact that all dog owners need a proper answer to this question that how they can be sure that all the information that they’re getting about heartworms is not a myth but complete facts. I for sure understand their concern because one of my friends was surprised to know that her dog was diagnosed with heartworm disease.

It was a complete shock because she never thought that this could happen as she always followed all the instructions given by the veterinarian and kept her dog healthy but unfortunately she might have missed some points that lead to her dog getting heartworm disease. after that day we discussed and researched the disease deeply and collected the information about 100% of facts medically tested and separated the inaccurate myths that cause misleading in understanding the fatal diseases.

False Myths Proved Facts
1. The larvae mature within days and causes the disease immediately without any time to recover It takes seven months for the larvae to mature into an adult worm to cause any serious damage to the vitals
2. People can get heartworm from their dogs. The heartworm only attacks the organs of an animal especially dogs. And cannot complete its a growth inside a human body
3. One infected dog can spread heartworm disease to other dogs. No, the heartworm can only be transmitted by an infected mosquito bite.
4. A medical treatment is Only required after the dog is diagnosed with heartworm disease Medical doses that are used for the prevention of disease cost way less than the treatment and also prevent the growth of parasites
5. If you don’t give the diagnosed dogs proper Treatment they will become immune to heartworm disease No, the dog diagnosed with heartworm disease will die if not treated with proper medicinal doses
6. Once the dog is treated for heartworm, they Can not get it again The dogs can get heartworm disease more than once that’s why prevention is important

After getting the proper information about heartworm disease and my friend Spread the information to other people especially pet owners. The chart above will help you in the process of treating your dog and preventing it from getting the disease.

How do dogs get heartworm

Rare cases of heartworm disease in dogs

Typically the heartworm attacks And targets the heart, lungs, and blood vessels but if the worm does not have tunnel vision for these vital organs it can accidentally go inside a dog’s brain which causes seizures. in this condition, the same medication will be given, but it might die on the spot if the dog cannot handle the Severe effects.

This condition can go the other way by causing blindness and might affect some basic senses of the dog. This can cause problems in the most basic ways of living like eating, sleeping, and barking. Yes, the horrors of these disgusting worms are as filthy as it sounds. heartworm disease is a pet owner’s worst nightmare so keep in mind to be educated about the preventative measures regarding the disease.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How long does it take for heartworms to kill a dog?

Heartworm is a slow killer it takes a long time to kill a dog. It takes about 1-2 years to kill a dog.

2. How long can a heartworm-positive dog live?

If a dog is having mature heartworm in it it can live for about 5-7 years in a dog.

3. Does Dewormer hurt dogs if they don’t have worms?

If your dog does not have worms it is still okay to give him a dewormer as prevention.

4. Is it common for humans to get worms from dogs?

Yes, a human can get worms through their dogs, some worms are infested and can transfer to the human body through dogs.

5. What is the most common worm in dogs?

Tapeworms, hookworms, roundworms are the most common worms found in dogs.

6. Do dogs know when humans are sleeping?

Yes, the dog knows when its owner is sleeping because the dog’s basic instinct is to protect you so the dog has a very close observation of you.

7. How do you keep a heartworm dog calm?

Try to play different games with your dogs like ball catch or some clicker to train them. You should keep them busy to keep him calm during his treatment.

8. Can worms make a dog not want to eat?

When having worms changes in eating habits are seen very often. Your dog may don’t want to eat food or maybe he is hungry all the time because worms steal nutrients from the food.

9. Why does my dog put his paw on me?

If your dog puts his paw on you that means he wants to show his love to you or maybe he wants to says he is hungry.

10. Do dogs dream?

Yes, dogs do dream. In fact, not only dogs but all mammals dream you have often seen your dogs moving paws while sleeping it’s because of the dream they are having while they sleep.

Conclusion

It will not be wrong to say that It is inevitable to avoid mosquitoes And keeping your pets inside all the time is not the best way to keep them healthy and the fact that you can have mosquitoes inside your house makes it even harder for you and your pet to avoid them. But the information given above in this article will help you do exactly what you need to do to avoid the disease to attack your animal. it is not impossible to fight this disease and with proper steps and the presentation, we sure can outrun the deadly worms and keep them out of our dog’s heart. Keep your dog healthy by feeding homemade food and making sure they get checked out by a professional veterinarian every month and look out for any of the symptoms. with all the medical research, we have melarsomine that actually cures heartworm disease. Before this medicine, it was hard to treat dogs with this disease because the side effects of the previous medicine were not good. And one of the most important things is to prevent it from happening and there are so many natural ways to prevent your dog from catching the disease. Keep it clean and make sure that the still water is dried out inside and outside your house. With all these preventative measures we sure can make our dogs live a healthy life and not let them become host to these deadly parasites. As a result, whenever you hear the question how do dogs get heartworm you know exactly how to educate the other person and help other pet owners fight the disease.

Read Related Articles

Do Goldendoodles shed?

German Shepherd Golden Retriever Mix

Why do dogs lick you?