How to care for your dog’s heart

ImageCertain parts of the country stay warm year round. And when I say “warm,” I simply mean the ambient temperature stays consistently above 58 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s the precise temperature needed to sustain the life cycle of heartworms.

A mosquito serves as the intermediate host for heartworms. The mosquito bites an infected dog, carries it, and bites another dog. The larvae enter the bloodstream and migrate to the heart where they mature into adult heartworms.

Adult worms look like tangled up spaghetti. Imagine what that might look like in the heart. The worms can block veins and arteries, major thoroughfares for the circulatory system. Coughing and lethargy are signs of infection. In severe cases, worms may cause congestive heart failure resulting in death.

Heartworm tests are easy methods of detecting infection. Tests require only a small amount of blood and deliver results within 10 minutes. It’s always important to test your dog for heartworms at least once a year. According to Dr. Randy Aronson, you should test your dog once every six months if you do not put your dog on heartworm preventative.

Dr. Aronson recommends keeping your dogs on heartworm preventative year round. Some research suggests putting your dogs on prevention only when the temperature stays consistently above 58 degrees Fahrenheit. If you have any question about the appropriate procedure for heartworm treatment in your part of the country, please consult a local veterinarian.

In a recent podcast, Dr. Aronson explained how it is fairly inexpensive to prevent heartworm than to treat it. Not using a preventative means you accept the risk of a carrier mosquito biting your dog. To correct a severe heartworm infection could require intensive treatment and possible surgery.

You can buy heartworm preventative at your veterinarian or through 1-800-PetMeds. Recently, patents for heartworm medicine may have expired so generics are popping up in stores. You don’t have to pay top dollar for quality pet care, so shop around for the best price and use whatever your vet recommends.

So, what are your thoughts on this matter? To treat or not to treat? Comment below.

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