If you are looking for home remedies for ridding dogs of heart worms, chances are you won’t find any effective remedies. The reason for this is simple: heart worm is the world’s deadliest type of dog worm. Because it is so dangerous, it must be treated under a veterinarians care.
Heart worm is most common in dogs, but it can also affect more than 30 additional species of animals including cats, wolves, coyotes, ferrets, and even sea lions. Heart worm can affect humans as well. Although heart worm (also spelled “heart worm”) can affect other species and humans, dogs are the preferred host. Heart worms can thrive just about anywhere. In fact, heart worm cases have been reported all over the United States and in breeds of all kinds. Heart worm is not specific to older or younger dogs, male or female dogs, urban or rural dogs or well to do or average dogs.
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Dog’s can become infected with heart worm from insect bites, mainly mosquito bites. When a mosquito bites the dog, the infection is transmitted through the dogs skin. The larvae develop in the body over a period of several months during which time they grow and migrate to the heart, lungs, and blood vessels.
Symptoms of Heart worm
- Abnormal heart sounds
- Abnormal lung sounds
- Difficulty breathing
- Enlargement of the liver
- Exercise intolerance
- Fluid accumulation in the abdomen
- Temporary loss of consciousness
In the earliest stages of heart worm, there are no abnormal signs of infections. In mild cases, coughing is present. In the moderate stage, you may notice coughing, exercise intolerance and abnormal lung sounds. In the most severe cases, all of the above symptoms above may be present. If the infection is severe enough, it can cause death. Continue reading to find out more about dog worm detection, symptoms, prevention, and treatment options for all types of dog worms, including heart worm.
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Treatments for Heart worm
As stated earlier, heart worm is the deadliest parasite infection for dogs, so treatment options are more aggressive. There are many highly effective treatment options for canine heart worm. There are also several “natural treatments” for canine heart worm that may be effective in the early stages of heart worm infection. The goal for conventional treatments for canine heart worm is to kill all adult worms with an adulticide and all microfilariae with a microfilaricide. The American Heartworm Society offers the detailed treatment description below. Please read carefully.
Adult Heart worm Therapy (Adulticide Therapy)
There is currently one drug approved by the FDA for use in dogs for the elimination of adult heart worms. This drug is an organic arsenical compound. Dogs receiving this drug therapy will typically have had a thorough pretreatment evaluation of its condition and will then be hospitalized during the administration of the drug.
Melarsomine dihydrochloride (Immiticide®, Merial) has demonstrated a higher level of effectiveness and safety than any other adult heart worm treatment previously available. It is administered by deep intramuscular injection into the lumbar muscles. For complete information on the classification and treatment for heart worm infected dogs using this product, consult your veterinarian.
The primary post-adulticide complication is the development of severe pulmonary thromboembolism. Pulmonary thromboembolism results from the obstruction of blood flow through pulmonary arteries due to the presence of dead heart worms and lesions in the arteries and capillaries of the lungs. If heart worm adulticide treatment is effective, some degree of pulmonary thromboembolism will occur.
When dead worms are numerous and arterial injury is severe, widespread obstruction of arteries can occur. Clinical signs most commonly observed include fever, cough, hemoptysis (blood in the sputum) and potentially sudden death. It is extremely important to not allow exercise in any dog being treated for heart worms. Often dogs with severe infections will also require the administration of anti-inflammatory doses of corticosteroids.
Elimination of Microfilariae
The most effective drugs for this purpose are the macrocyclic lactone (ML) anthelmintics, i.e.,milbemycin oxime, selamectin, moxidectin and ivermectin. These drugs are the active ingredients in commonly used heart worm preventives. Although their usage as microfilaricides has not been approved by the FDA, they are widely used by veterinarians as there are no approved microfilaricidal drugs currently available. It is recommended that microfilariae positive dogs being treated with these macrocyclic lactones be hospitalized for at least eight hours following treatment for observation of possible adverse reactions, including those resulting from rapid death of the microfilariae.
Circulating microfilariae usually can be eliminated within a few weeks by the administration of the ML-type drugs mentioned above. Today however, the most widely used microfilaricidal treatment is to simply administer ML preventives as usual, and the microfilariae will be cleared slowly over a period of about six to nine months. –The American Heartworm Society.
”Natural Cures” for Canine Heart worm
While treatments for canine heart worm are best administered under a vets care, some dogs may be too old or too sick to undergo rigorous treatments. They may be too old for preventative medications as well. Preventative care in the form of monthly tablets, chewables, or topicals includes: Ivermectin, Macrocyclic Lactone (ML), Milbemycin, Moxidectin, and Selamectin. Natural cures for canine heart worms are not regulated, so there are literally hundreds if not thousands of products on the market that claim to cure or prevent canine heart worm. It’s best to speak with your vet about alternative cures or contact the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association to locate a holistic vet in your area.
How to Prevent Heart Worm
Fortunately, there are ways to prevent heart worms. One of the most important ways to prevent heart worm is to have your pet screened for worms twice per year. If your dog is considered high-risk, you should have him screened more than twice a year. Although dogs can get heart worms just about anywhere on the map, areas where mosquito populations are high are especially risky. You can help prevent a heart worm infection by keeping your pet indoors when mosquito populations are in full force, typically during the hottest summer months. In addition, you should give your dog a monthly dose of heart worm prevention medication and apply a topical solution to the skin. Your vet can provide you with prescription grade pills and solution.
In addition to preventative measures, it’s also a good idea to keep your dog clean and well groomed. You should also dispose of dog feces immediately. Never leave it in piles around your yard or dog run. If you notice any of the symptoms of heart worms, do not wait. Contact your vet immediately.