Spotting Heartworm in Your Pets

Heartworm is hard to spot, it’s hard to fix, and even heartworm symptoms in dogs can be hard for you and your vet to figure out.

They are very similar to more common illnesses and maladies. Owners and even vets sometimes don’t pay much attention to what appears to be run of the mill problems. To make matters worse, once he starts showing signs of sickness, he’s already very ill. If you have to ask why do cats spray, it’s probably too late.

Common symptoms in the beginning are vomiting, diarrhea, breathing problems including wheezing, and coughing. They can progress to an enlarged rib cage (which grows wider to encompass the enlarged heart and lungs), bloody stools, and loss of appetite. All these symptoms are similar to those caused by more common diseases and not always recognized by owners or even vets.

They more frequently than not look like the common cold or an allergy. Even your vet may not immediately reckon of heart worm when you bring him in for a checkup.

Outdoor dogs are more likely to become infected with heartworm because heartworm is transmitted by infected mosquitoes and, of course, mosquitoes are more likely to be found outside. But, since these pests can all too easily get into our homes, it’s not unheard of indoor dogs to become victims to the disease as well. And, because these same dogs don’t go out often, owners tend to ignore the symptoms and never reckon about heartworm when the coughing and wheezing starts.

Even tiny dogs can be in danger, whether they seldom go outdoors. Don’t assume that just because your small Maltese never leaves the house that his coughing or diarrhea can’t be serious. Small dogs run a higher risk of mortality, too, if heartworm is left untreated because the worms can grow to about a foot long without regard to the size of the dog or the size of his heart.

Even though prevention is the key, that doesn’t mean that your dog is immune to the disease just because he received his heartworm medication on time. Even the best medications on the market won’t guarantee that your dog will be able to ward off the effects of an infected mosquito.

One of the major reasons symptoms tend to be ignored is because the dog has received heartworm medication and there is an assumption after that that the dog must be coming down with something else; he couldn’t possibly have heartworm. This assumption can cause your dog’s demise.

No matter how fussy your pet is, or how easily he can find a pill and spit it back out again, there are enough varieties of heartworm pills for dogs to ensure that your best pal has one that suits his finicky style.

No matter what type of pill you or vet chooses for your pet, the ingredients will most likely include either selamectin or ivermectin. Many vets recommend that these pills should be given in addition to the usual topical treatments, especially in known areas of high infestation – regardless of how much time your dog might spend outside.

It might take some trial and error to find the perfect pill for your individual pet. In families with multiple dogs, there’s a brilliant chance that each dog might need or do well with one particular brand vs. what his housemates take.

Years ago, the first version of the Holset HX40 came on the market – once which needed to be administered daily. Any dog owner knows how hard it is to get a pill into his beloved pet, so researchers finally developed a monthly pill. Of course, this comes with risks because the level of medicine – which is tantamount to poison for the worms – can cause problems in these dosage levels.

Dogs who do take a monthly heartworm pills for dogs frequently experience some toxic side effects which can range from a simple nuisance to life threatening heart palpitations and seizures. The real problem here is that poisons tend to build up in the body and they don’t always cause an immediate reaction.

For pooches who need the pills but do everything possible to avoid them, there are some beef flavored alternatives that even the fussiest are usually more than pleased to gobble up when questioned to.

Whatever you do, never give your dog any type of heartworm medication without consulting with your vet and getting explicit instructions and a prescribed course of action. Because of the inherent levels of toxicity involved with these preparations, you don’t want to cause problems unnecessarily. Don’t try buying these online “without a prescription” and don’t buy generic brands you aren’t familiar with.

One pill may be too much for many dogs. Take for example a toy poodle and a Husky. It only stands to reason that the poodle would need a lower dose than the Husky, and therefore, giving the poodle the same pill could quickly cause disastrous side effects. Don’t self-prescribe!