What is Heartworm in dogs & a step-by-step guide to prevent it.
- What is Heartworm in dogs & a step-by-step guide to prevent it.
- Top 5 best natural flea prevention for dogs & cats.
What is Heartworm in dogs?
As the weather warms up in some parts of Canada, most dog owners start thinking of heartworm in dogs and by extension prevention of heartworm. However, what is heartworm?
Heartworm is a more of a parasite and less of a disease that results in primarily heart and lung failure mostly in dogs. Cats are not natural hosts for the worms (i.e. most worms do not develop into adults in cats). However, cats can still get heartworm. Note that for cats, prevention is the best solution as cats cannot be medicated with heartworm drugs used for dogs.
When an infected mosquito bites a dog, it transmits these parasitic worms. These parasitic worms in adult form live primarily in the heart and lungs of the infected animal and as such the name “heartworm.” The disease is not contagious meaning that your dog can’t get it from being next to another dog. The transmission of the parasitic heartworm is only through mosquito bites.
Heartworm in dogs occurs in these conditions
- When a mosquito bites an infected dog, the mosquito becomes infected with the parasite. The parasite evolves from a microfilarae into infective larvae.
- The next stages all happen in the mosquito. In order for the larvae to develop (Stage L-1 to L-3) in the mosquito, the temperature must not go below 14 C for at least two weeks. If at any point the temperature drops, the process is halted.
- Full development cannot occur if the temperature is not above 18 C for at least two weeks. This means it could be a cumulative of 1 month at those temperatures for development in the mosquito.
- At stage L-3, the larvae are transported into the saliva of the mosquito to be transmitted to a dog.
- The larvae undergo a transition to stage L-4 when a mosquito bites the dog and are under the dog’s skin and take about 3 to 4 months to develop into L-5 and travel in the dog’s bloodstream to the heart and lungs.
- It then takes another approximately 6 months to reach adult maturity as heartworms (L6).
Can dogs get heartworm in Canada?
What do you need to do to prevent heartworm in dogs?
What are the side effects of Heartworm medication for dogs?
Why is all this detail NOT provided by the American Heartworm Society?
How to prevent Heartworm in dogs step-by-step?
Note that heartworm medications are insecticides that kill only the larvae and not the heartworm. In some cases now, some medications can kill the L5 stage. The treatment for heartworm is different. We however prefer using the following natural approaches to prevent heartworm disease:
- Use blood testing (DNA testing is more effective according toDr. Dobias) to screen for any presence of heartworm before using heartworm preventatives at least once a year.
- Talk to your holistic vet about homeopathic treatments or heartworm medications which do not include unnecessary dewormers for dogs.
- If you’d like to use heartworm medications, Dr. Dobias suggests every 3 to 4 months in hot temperatures. Other vets suggest about 6 to 8 weeks if the conditions are right.
- You could also consider using the lowest effective dose according to another holistic vet.
- Look into natural herbal repellent collars or herbal spot on treatments that have Geranium Oil or citronella.
- These are also effective flea and tick repellents. Note that essential oils can be toxic to cats if ingested. Just because it is natural does not mean it should be dabbed on your animal.
- At Moonlight Dog Cafe, we’ve got several options of the herbal repellent collars and natural spot-on treatments formulated by a holistic vet for your pet’s safety.
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