Canine heartworms are enough to put the fear of God in your own heart. Who wants to think that your dog might have his precious heart full of nasty, life threatening worms. The picture below is enough to make you sick, isn't it? But let's calm down and look at the whole topic reasonably, so we can keep our sanity.
Here are a few need to know facts about heartworms in dogs.
This where it gets difficult, because heartworm symptoms in dogs typically do not show up for a long time, usually at least six months after being infected with the larvae called dirofilaria immitis. During this time the larvae mature into adult worms, mate and then give birth to more little microfilaria.
The mosquito is the required intermediate step here and not all mosquitos carry heartworm. An infected female mosquito must bite an infected dog and then carry the larvae to the next dog it bites. Then the cycle continues. The diagram below explains this very well.
Since heartworm preventative ' meds ' are really toxic, chemical insecticides, it would be wise to weigh your dog's risk for infection. Is the benefit of chemical prevention worth the risk of toxic chemical overload?
Is your dog at risk, and how high is that risk? Much of that risk analysis will depend on where you live. If you live in a high risk area of North America you might want to consider conventional veterinary treatment at low minimum doses. If you live in a low risk area, and your dog is a house pet, do you need to use these chemicals at all?
Here's a good article which will tell you accurately how much risk your dog has, and a heartworm prevalence map for your particular area. The further north, the lower the risk. Canada is considered very low on the risk scale for heartworms.
Here are some questions to ask yourself.
Although I always advocate natural remedies where possible, in truth, I think it's easier to prevent a heartworm infection, than it is to treat a heartworm infection with natural remedies, after the fact.
That is because the little microfilaria are deposited in the dog's blood by the mosquito. This is different than other types of parasites and parasitic worms which are usually ingested, pass through the digestive tract and enter hatch or break open in the intestinal environment.
I don't want to sound like a pessimist. I just want to be truthful. I very much believe that the best way to minimize your dog's risk and prevent a heartworm infection is by making sure you are...
If you live in a high risk area make sure to get your dog tested a few times a year.
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