Staying Healthy

Canine Heartworms

We all love our dogs and want the best for them. Monitoring their health is vital for a happy, healthy, and long life so today let’s take a look at the canine heartworms parasite and how best to protect our faithful friends. There are no longer any areas of the USA that are free from the danger, although the very dry areas of the west and the colder climates have much less occurrence.

Canine Heartworms

Perhaps the most common way your dog is going to contract the parasite known as canine heartworms is when he or she is bitten by a mosquito that has already bitten another animal infected with the heartworm parasite. The heartworm larva transferred to the mosquito takes anywhere from ten days to as long as six weeks to develop, depending on the temperature of the environment. The much shorter time for warm climates, (ten days) and longer, (up to six weeks) for these canine heartworms carriers who are in colder climates. During this gestation period the heartworm larva develops to the point it can be passed on to your dog if he or she is bitten by the host mosquito.

When bitten by the mosquito the transfer is accomplished when a drop of the heartworm larva is deposited next to the actual puncture wound the mosquito makes in your dog’s skin. Humidity conditions dictate if the larva will be transferred to your dog. Low humidity and the drop of saliva deposited by the mosquito will evaporate before it has time to enter the dog through the puncture wound. Higher humidity conditions allow the saliva to remain long enough to find its way into the dog. Canine heartworms larva, after entering your dog, remains just under the skin for a time and then gradually work their way to the dogs heart. From the moment the heartworm larva enters the host (your dog) it takes roughly five to seven months for maturing in a case of fully developed heartworm infestation.

Those dog owners who live in colder climates where winter snows are normal are fortunate as these conditions practically eliminate the heartworm issue with the exception of the summer months. Treating you pooch during these warm humid summer months is recommended but is not needed year round. It is dogs living in the warm, humid areas where the temperature does not allow for snow or extended periods of cold weather that canine heartworms are to be expected in dogs and year round treatments are recommended.

By far the best treatment is prevention. According to Wikipedia:

Prevention of heartworm infection can be obtained through a number of veterinary drugs. …Preventive drugs are highly effective, and when regularly administered, will protect more than 99% of dogs and cats from heartworm.

When deciding on the best prevention treatments for your dog the decision will come down to going with the manufactured medicines prescribed by your vet or using a natural holistic approach. The available medicines usually protect the dog from all types of worms.

There is the possibility that the long term health of your dog can be compromised with constant monthly doses of manufactured medicines, so more and more people and vets are going with the holistic canine heartworms treatments. I wouldn’t try the holistic approach without the knowledge and concurrence and advice of your vet, however. This infestation can eventually damage the dog’s heart and become fatal if the treatment fails.

Do you have a dog with heartworm issues? Please leave any advice and tips below.

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