Posts Tagged ‘heartworm preventatives’

Heartworms Continue to Plaque Pets!!

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

Each year, veterinarians do battle with an ancient enemy of our dogs and cats.  Heartworms are easily preventable with affordable and safe medications, but positive cases continue to rise.  Is there any hope that we could see an end to this parasite?

It’s been more than 150 years since a scientist discovered the heartworm parasite of dogs and more than 80 years since the parasite was found in cats.  Still, each year hundreds of thousands of dogs and cats are diagnosed with this dreaded worm and it is estimated that North American cases are actually in the millions.  In all this time, why have we not found a way to combat and stop this plague?

Heartworm disease is devastating to the pet’s health.  Spread by mosquitoes, this parasite can grow close to two feet long and takes up physical space in the heart’s chambers and pulmonary artery.  This means that the dog’s heart must work harder to push the same amount of blood out to the body.  Early signs of this disease included fatigue and exercise intolerance, but later signs can include coughing, fluid accumulation in the lungs or abdomen and death. 

For cats, the heartworm larvae prefer the lungs and can cause vomiting, asthma like symptoms and even sudden death in some cases.

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Heartworm Disease is Spreading

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

With over 250,000 known cases across the United States, canine heartworm disease continues to plague our pets, causing emotional distress to the owners and financial worries to their pocketbooks.  The saddest part of all:   this disease is completely preventable.

We know what causes heartworm disease, we know how to treat it in dogs, and we even have safe, effective medications to prevent the disease.  So, why are more than a quarter of a million dogs and cats still getting this terrible disease?

According to a survey recently released by the American Heartworm Society over 250,000 dogs and cats tested positive for heartworm infection nationwide in 2004.  Since these cases only included dogs that routinely see the veterinarian, some estimates of the true incidence of heartworms in dogs range as high as 11 million canines infected with the parasite.  Throw in coyotes and foxes and one can easily see the huge reservoir of potential cases.

Heartworms are a parasite that reside in the vessels leading from the heart to the lungs of many different mammals, but are primarily suited for life in a canine.   The immature larva of the adult heartworms are taken in during feeding by mosquitoes and then spread from mosquito back to dogs after a short, 2 week maturation period in the mosquito’s stomach and salivary glands.  After returning to their natural host, the heartworm larva migrate through the dog’s body over the next four to six months, growing in length until they reach the heart.  Upon reaching the heart, the foot long parasite becomes sexually active, producing large numbers of larva, which, in turn, wait to be picked up by a feeding mosquito, continuing the disease cycle.  Infected dogs might have as few as 5 or 6 adult worms or as many as 250!

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