Heartworm is parasitic worm that can grow to be twelve inches or longer, and left untreated, will kill your pet. Heartworm is primarily a canine disease but cats can be infected as well. Heartworm is a serious, life-threatening disease requiring painful conventional treatment once infection has occurred. Herbal heartworm treatments and other natural heartworm treatments are certainly available, though less well known. Although these natural heartworm treatment regimes are nowhere near as painful or risky as conventional heartworm treatments, recovery from well established heartworm can be very uncomfortable for your pet.
Infected mosquitoes transmit heartworm. And once a mosquito is infected, whenever the mosquito bites another animal, heartworm is spread. Although heartworm is not contagious, it is certainly possible, and relatively common, that more than one animal in the household can contract heartworm. This is obviously because an infected mosquito is likely to bite more than one of your pets, and/or if there is one infected mosquito in or around your yard, there are very likely to be more of them. There is no risk, however, to housing a heartworm positive dog with an uninfected animal, as there is no risk of direct infection from the infected dog to an uninfected animal.
Heartworm is a parasitic problem common to dogs (and other pets) in warmer climates. Heartworm is therefore prevalent in southern France, Spain, Italy and the Mediterranean, as well as to a greater or lesser extent in every State in the U. S. , and countries as far flung as Australia and Hong Kong. In fact, some experts believe that heartworm is now present on every continent of this planet, with the exception of Antarctica. While that may be, heartworm is as yet relatively unknown in the U. K. and some other cooler climactic areas. There does appear to be a growing awareness of the problem, but many people have very little knowledge of how heartworm is spread, and why preventative medications are so important.
Heartworm is caused by the bite of a mosquito and the adult heartworm is found in the right ventricle and the nearby blood vessels of the dog's heart. Heartworm is a disease that every dog that is ever exposed to mosquitoes is susceptible to.
Symptoms of heartworm disease usually include coughing, weight loss, lack of energy and breathing difficulties. However, during the early stages of infestation, there may be few, if any, symptoms. Indeed, heartworm can develop to a very advanced stage before your pet shows any symptoms at all. This is one of the reasons why a heartworm diagnosis is such a serious matter – by the time your pet is diagnosed, he or she is likely to have a mass of heartworm clogging up his/her heart and surrounding blood vessels.
Heartworm can be diagnosed with blood tests, and/or X-rays, as well as various other types of tests. Heartworm testing will only be carried out as a matter of course in areas where heartworm is prevalent. However, you have every right to request that your pet be tested for heartworm, and to expect your vet to adhere to your wishes in this regard.
Heartworm is a completely preventable disease. Do not ignore your vet when he or she tells you that heartworm prevention is important for your dog. It IS. In fact, it can literally save your dog’s life, or at the very least, save your dog from an expensive and painful treatment regime.
The heartworm prevention your vet will recommend will likely be one of the well known brands such as Heartgard. Such preventative medications do work very well, but then again, so do natural alternatives such as herbs.
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