How to know if my dog has filariasis
Canine filariasis, better known as the heartworm, is one of the most common diseases in dogs. It is a disease of parasitic nature, since it is produced by the installation and reproduction inside the heart of a round worm belonging to the Filaria species, the Dirofilaria Immitis. This seeing is lodged in the right side of the heart and pulmonary blood vessels and can even cause the death of the dog. It is very important to detect it in time to start a treatment that will kill the worms. Therefore, in this article, we show you how to know if your dog has filariasis .
What is canine filariasis?
Canine filariasis is a parasitic disease in which the worm Dirofilaria Immitis lodges in the right ventricle of the heart and pulmonary blood vessels and reproduces, obstructing the blood flow. This seeing comes through the blood to the tissues and intermediate locations, where it develops, since it is not transmitted to the animal in its adult form but grows inside, reproduces and, finally, passes to the heart. This whole process can last between 85 and 120 days.
The adult worm can live between five and seven years in the can and feeds on nutrients that steal through the blood circulation of the animal. The heartworm can measure between 15 and 30 centimeters in length. The biggest problem of this disease is found in the total number of worms housed in the dog, since in extreme infections, more than 100 worms have been found in only one dog.
How is heartworm spread?
The heartworm is transmitted to the dog through a mosquito of the genus Culex, Aedes or Anopheles, since only these species can keep the microfilaria larvae in their interior. This mosquito takes the blood of an infected can, thus absorbing the younger form of the parasite of the filaria. Once inside the mosquito, the larvae will develop into immature worms during the next two or three weeks. After this time, when the mosquito returns to feed on a healthy dog, it will introduce me into its bloodstream, infecting it with filariasis.
The female of this worm reproduces and breeds the so-called microfilariae inside the dog, which circulate through the blood until its development. In general, dogs with chances of being bitten are those that live or frequent areas of humid climates, ideal for the survival of the mosquito.
Symptoms of canine filariasis
Unfortunately canine filariasis develops most of the damage before detecting any symptoms in the dog, so it is very difficult to realize the disease before its evolution. This is why it is so important to perform regular analyzes and reviews of your dog, since the best way to detect it is through a blood test. In general, a dog infected by the heartworm can present the following symptoms :
- Difficulty breathing that can be accompanied by accelerated breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Soft cough
- Intolerance to exercise due to heart failure
- Bleeding from the mouth
- Lack of appetite
The infected dog may have some, all or none of these symptoms and, in the worst case, the disease can kill the animal's life.
Treatment for dogs with filariasis
Through a blood test the veterinarian will diagnose canine filariasis. Once diagnosed, the physical conditions of the dog and the state of the disease should be evaluated. You should know that there is no general treatment to end it, but that several drugs are administered for each of the stages of filariasis. The treatment is aggressive, expensive and can be dangerous for the animal since it can weaken it.
In general, a series of injections that kill adult worms are administered. This phase of the treatment is the most delicate because the dog must be at rest to avoid obstructions due to dead worms and lung damage. After this phase, the treatment goes on to administer medications to expel the immature worms from the blood. Finally, if the medication has been carried out successfully, a vitamin treatment and a special diet as a recovery are started, as well as a prevention program so that it does not re-contract filariasis.
How to prevent canine filariasis
To prevent filariasis, you must go to the veterinarian to administer a preventive program, which consists of giving your dog a chewable tablet that eliminates the larvae and immature worms of the organism of your dog. These products must be administered after four months of the dog's life and on a monthly basis. It must be provided from the time of flight of the mosquitoes until two months after they have disappeared. It is very important that you consult with your veterinarian before administering any preventive treatment to ensure that your dog can take it.