Thursday, April 10, 2014

Heartworms Cause Heartbreak

   It’s Friday, it’s springtime, flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and we are co-hosting our second Pet Parade blog hop!  It’s a great chance to meet new bloggers and gain Social Media friends.  The hop is opened all week so you can strut your stuff on any day!
   I love this time of the year in Louisiana.  The flowers are gorgeous and the weather is wonderful, a lull before the summer temperatures from hell.  There is one thing about
Heartworms have been reported in ALL 50 states.
the burst of this awesome season that I dread.  MOSQUITOS!  Louisiana mosquitos are horrible due to our mild winters.  It gets so bad at one point of the summer; it is difficult to go outside.  When you open the doors, they jet inside and you have to watch for tiny dots on the walls.  I dread it.

   The pesky mosquitos are more than just annoying; they are dangerous.  The cases of West Nile Virus around the country have risen each year.  The virus begins like the flu, but this scary illness can be fatal.  The best protection is light-colored long sleeves along with a mosquito spray or lotion.  We bought two large Citronella plants for our back porch last summer.  I think they provided some relief, but certainly not enough.
   Mosquitos don’t just pose a threat to humans; the West Nile virus is a relatively new problem.  They bloodsuckers have been trouble for our dogs and cats for over 100 years.  Their vicious bite isn’t just itchy it causes heartworms.  April is National Heartworm Awareness month.  This is a worldwide problem and even with effective preventatives and public awareness, cases of heartworms continue to take its toll on animals.

 How do heartworms happen?  The adult female heartworms release their young, called microfilariae, into an animal’s bloodstream.  When another mosquito bites that animal, it becomes infected with the microfilariae when they take their blood meal from the infected animal.  Over the next couple of weeks, the microfilariae mature into the infective larval stage within the mosquito.  Then, the mosquito bites another dog or cat and the infective larvae enter through the bite.  It takes a little over 6 months for the larvae to mature into adult heartworms.  If not treated, the worms can live up to 7
A dog's heart should be filled with love,
not worms.
years!  The microfilariae cannot mature into a heartworm without passing through a mosquito.
   In the early stages of heartworms, there are usually no symptoms.  The number of heartworms increase over months and years as the animal is repeatedly bitten by infected mosquitos.  Once a dog is heavily infected, they shows signs of fatigue, a mild persistent cough, a reluctance to move or exercise, weight loss, along with a loss of appetite.
   Diagnosing a cat is not as easy.  Many of their symptoms mimic other feline diseases.  Chronic signs in a cat are gagging, vomiting, and difficult breathing.  Early signs in felines, when the heartworms enter the blood vessels and are carried to the pulmonary arteries are often misdiagnosed as feline asthma or allergic bronchitis.  These are actually a new syndrome known as Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease (HARD).
   Your vet should draw blood from your pet to check for heartworms.  This is a standard test although it may not show heartworm infection newer than 6 months.  If your dog tests positive for heartworms, there is treatment available.  It is expensive and very hard on the dog.  There is no treatment available for cats infected with heartworms.     Your pet should be on a heartworm preventative all year round.  If you live in a climate that is incredibly cold, you may be able to go without it for a couple of months, but I would not advise it.  Don’t play Russian roulette with your best friend’s life.  That is the thing about heartworms; it is nearly 100% avoidable.  There is absolutely no reason for any dog or cat to suffer a horrible death because of heartworms.  If your vet doesn’t recommend a preventative for your pet, ask about one.  Remember, your pet can’t ask for themselves.  You accept the responsibility when you bring a dog or cat into your home.
*The information and graphics are from the American Heartworm Society.  You can read more about heartworms on their site http://www.heartwormsociety.org/


Thanks to my co-hosts for the Pet Parade; Rascal and Rocco, Jan’s Funny Farm, Bionic Basil’s Blog, and Love is being owned by a Husky.
Click to see this week's Featured Pet Photo

Joining the Pet Parade is easy and fun.  We have no rules, because that’s how we roll.  If your pets are big, medium, or small and squawks, barks, mews, or crawls, this is the hop for you!  We post your photo to Pinterest and follow you on your Social Media site, don’t be afraid…we won’t bite!  Be sure to visit these other blogs for great posts and pics!

14 comments :

  1. Oh my goodness, that photo of the heartworms is horrible! Not nice at all. Thanks for the info!
    berniethefrenchie

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  2. Great info Melissa! Those pesky mosquitoes!!!!! GRRRRR to them!!! Thanks for sharing!
    Happy PP!
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

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  3. Great post, well done. Such an important topic and you did it so well! My dogs are on HW prev each month the entire year. We are lucky to maybe only have one heartworm case every other year and it is usually from dogs adopted from down south.

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  4. Good info. We get our heartworm check every March and renew our prescriptions. Very important!

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  5. We hate parasites!

    But we want to wish you a fun Pet Parade.

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  6. Thanks for sharing about this. "shudder" Good for people to know how important it is to prevent them. And thank you for being an awesome co-host on the Pet Parade! ~Rascal and Rocco

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  7. In Denmark we have a parasite known as French Heartworm. I do not know if it is the same parasite that is involved, but the dogs in Denmark are mostly infected by eating snails or grass which has seen snails.

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  8. EWW and EEK!
    Heartworms SUCK!!! I've never had an animal before that has had heartworms...the world would be perfect if sickness wasn't a thing, and worms weren't either.
    Have a pawsome day!
    ❀Siamese Smothers and Tuxie Tickles❀ from Mikko and Jax at Happiness is Siamese!

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  9. Living in Florida, heartworms scare the crap out of me. I'm incredibly diligent with giving heartworm prev (the 15th of every month) and having her tested, and she's sprayed down with a spray whenever she goes out in the summer, but I''m still terrified she'll test positive.
    DM

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  10. Ugh, that is one of the things to hate about spring coming....all the damn insects and the horrible diseases they carry. We have our dogs on heartworm preventatives, but had never thought about it for the cats. They are indoor cats, but still mosquitoes get in the house! That's definitely something to think about, especially since there's no treatment for them. Thanks for a well written and informative post!
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

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  11. Happy Heartworm Awareness Month!!! I wrote about heartworms the other day also. But where you are at it seems like it is a lot more scary than my little oasis in the desert. Great article and thanks for helping spread the message!

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  12. Good information. We treat April 1 through December 1. Our cold winter was good for one thing. I have yet to see any of those nasty things. :)

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