Heartworms are the worms which stick to the heart of animals or mammals specially cats and dogs. As humans have got heart attacks, similarly this worms cause heart strikes to animals. These parasites derived their names from their feature of sticking to hearts of mammals. They may survive there for years and years especially if the animal or mammal is lethargic and less active.
If these parasites are not treated they may grow up to 10 inches in size and bring about various dreadful diseases to animals. These thread like worms pass various stages of life cycles before they kill your dear little pet. The following will describe better how these worms are dangerous:
- Transmission: these worms give birth to thousands of other little worms named microfilaria daily. These tiny worms wait up to two years inside a mosquito before being transferred to an uninfected victim.
- Ecdysis: these small little worms enter the animal’s body through a mosquito bite before moving to the next stage.
- Migration: after the bite these roundworms move to various parts of animal’s body and convert themselves into an immature adult 45 to 60 days after the infection. After this they enter the blood stream and stay in pulmonary artery after 30 to 60 more days.
- Reproduction: after 3 to 4 months this worms convert themselves into complete adults with 20 to 30 cms in length and ready to mate. These female worms again reproduce repeating the entire process once again.
- Prepatent period: this is the period when worms start spreading the disease.
When these heartworms are completely grown they start blocking blood circulation of the heart and large vessels near the lungs. Due to this the heart’s right ventricle and pulmonary artery directed towards the lungs become enlarged as these worms take up all the position inside. During this period your pet starts loosing its appetite and weight and becomes all the more restless.
It’s difficult to find this disease in animals. Yet some of the symptoms are diarrhea, vomiting, blindness, coughing, drowsiness, anorexia, rapid heartbeats, syncope and sudden death. You can even allow your pet to go through certain tests like
- Direct blood smear
- Knott’s test
- Difil test
- Antigen testing
- Antibody testing
Getting rid of this disease in dogs is easier then to get rid of it in any other animal. The thing is not just to eliminate this disease but to eliminate it with very little side effects. It becomes very difficult to save the animal from this disease when it becomes dam serious. However the following measures are being followed by today’s veterinarians to eliminate this disease of round worms:
Microfilaria annihilation: get rid of microfilaria before they become adults.
Aduticide therapy: once you kill the kids the next step is to look for adults.
Surgery: when the above solutions don’t work go and consult a vet immediately. Your pet might have to undergo various tests but this is the only solution available.
Heartworms are a very common, but extremely serious disease that no pet owner should ignore. If you truly love your pet, the best way to show it is by never breaking its heart, literally and figuratively.