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Heartworm in Dogs: Most Important Facts You Must Know As A Dog Owner

Heartworm in dogs a severe disease that damages the heart, lungs, others organ, and finally death in the animals. It is a parasitic roundworm infection caused by Dirofilaria immitis. Animals that have been found to be affected with Dirofilaria immitis include the dog, cat, fox, wolf, coyote, ferret, raccoon, bear, jackal, tiger, leopard, muskrat, and sea lion. Heartworm disease in dogs is also called in canine dirofilariasis in dogs. 

Adult heartworm found in the heart and large vessels of the affected host. The female worm is 2.3-5.5 cm long, and the male is half size of a female. Canine dirofilariasis or dirofilariasis is a severe and deadly disease in dogs. It is reported in all 50 states, and the bite of just one mosquito infected with the dirofilariasis larvae will give your dog dirofilariasis disease.

Transmission of Heartworm in Dogs


Adult worms are found in the heart and pulmonary arteries of infected dogs. The females produce millions of microfilaria. Microfilaria lives in the small blood vessels. Mosquito suck blood, and microfilaria enter into the mosquito. Microfilaria developed for 10-30 days and entered into mouthparts. The microfilaria is now called the infective stage. Thin coated dogs are mostly affected by the bite of a mosquito.

Transmission of Canine Dirofilariasis

Clinical signs of Canine Dirofilariasis


A most common sign is a soft, dry, chronic cough, weakness, shortness of breath, listlessness, nervousness, and loss of stamina. All of these signs are most distinguishable following exercise, when some dogs may even faint. Sometime abdomen and legs will swell from fluid accumulation: abnormal lung and heart sound. There may also be evidence of the poor condition, weight loss, and anemia.

Signs of Heartworm in Dogs

Severely infected dogs may die suddenly during exercise or excitement. Sometime it may produce jaundice. Clinical signs vary considerably, but dyspnea, collapse, and occasionally convulsions may be observed in severely infected dogs. Pulmonary hypertension may result in increased right ventricular pressure. 

Vectors of Dirofilaria Imitis

Diagnosis of Heartworm in Dogs


The diagnosis is based on the characteristic clinical signs. Diagnosis can be made on the demonstration of microfilaria in the blood smear. The IV injection of 1.0 to 1.5 ml of a 1>1000 solution of epinephrine hydrochloride diluted with 9 ml of normal saline has been recommended to increase the number of microfilaria in the peripheral circulation.

Diagnosis of Heartworm in Dogs

There are several bases that may be used to determine the relative severity of the infection. These criteria of several diseases include:    

  • A history of reduced tolerance to exercise, cough, and collapse.
  • The occurrence of ascites, edema, and cardiac murmurs in the pulmonic area and 
  • Measurement of circulation time.

Canine Dirofilariasis

Treatment of Canine Dirofilariasis


When your dog is infected with dirofilariasis, it is crucial to give supportive therapy and chemotherapy. The surgical removal of heartworms is the effective methods of the treatment. Feeding of your dog is a high level of sound quality protein and supplementing the diet with ascorbic acid and B-complex vitamins.

Treatment of Canine Dirofilariasis 

There are various types of anthelmintics drugs that eliminate hookworms. Administration of diuretics may be indicated for edematous patients, which should be given prior to specific chemotherapy and continue 5 to 7 days, arsenamide has been used successfully in infected dogs. 

Final Advice on Heartworm in Dogs


Dirofilariasis in the dog is a severe parasitic disease that ultimately turns deadly to your lovely pets. As a dog owner, you must go for a regular check-up for the presence of microfilaria in blood. Adequate preventive measures can reduce the load of infection to your kennel. A balanced and protein-rich diet will be helpful for the good health of your dogs.

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