THE HEARTWORM: A TRAVELER WE DON’T WANT

We watch TV, we listen to the radio, we read on the internet, and everywhere we are told about climate change. It seems that the entire planet is immersed in a slow process of change. Scientists and governments do not agree, but what is being verified is the existence of an increase in hot and humid areas on all continents. And Spain is no exception.

It is in these areas where our protagonist – the heartworm of the nematode family (Dirofilariasis imcites) – finds the best habitat to develop its life cycle and its best ally – the mosquito -.

What is canine heartworm disease?

Despite having the name of a cartoon character, the heartworm is a guest that we would prefer not to host. Canine heartworm disease is a serious and common parasitic disease in areas where maggots and mosquitoes are present, which can leave important sequelae in our pet and even cause death. Although there is treatment and it can be cured, it is complex and even dangerous, so correct prevention with anti-parasites will be the best way to protect our beloved dog.

How is heartworm spread?

Heartworm disease was discovered in dogs over a hundred years ago and is therefore well known to the veterinary community. It is a disease that is not spread by contact between dog and dog, since it requires the intermediation of a mosquito. When a mosquito bites an animal previously infested with young larvae, these are acquired by the insect and transmitted to the bloodstream of the next healthy dog ​​it bites. These larvae will develop within the tissues of the dog until they become mature worms (reaching between 15 and 30 centimeters in length), managing to lodge mainly in the pulmonary arteries and the heart.

What are the symptoms of canine heartworm disease?

From the time the parasites enter the body of a healthy dog ​​until they reach maturity, about 4-6 months may elapse. In the early stages, there may be no obvious symptoms. That is why, many times, when the first symptoms appear, the worms are already in their destination locations. Therefore, if we detect any symptoms, we must go to our veterinarian to perform a blood test in search of the parasite.

The most notable and common symptoms of this disease are:

  • Exercise intolerance due to heart and respiratory distress you experience
  • Tiredness even with little effort
  • Increased heart rate from overexertion of the heart
  • Cough after exertion and shortness of breath
  • Lack of appetite and weight loss
  • Nosebleeds and bleeding from the mouth
  • Apathy, low mood, and even nervousness
  • Fainting from general weakness
  • In advanced cases there may be swelling due to fluid accumulation

How to prevent our dog from heartworms?

Heartworm parasitoids can be prevented by going to our trusted veterinarian and asking him to make a preventive plan about this disease, especially coinciding with the hot and humid times of greatest activity of mosquitoes, although in many areas the disease can be purchased throughout the year. In addition, with the Double Monthly Protection your pet will be protected against the most frequent parasites, such as other worms, fleas and ticks, avoiding the risk of contagion to your family. We must not forget the protection of our pet both inside and outside its body.