Before discussing the signs of heartworm in dogs, it’s a good idea to run through what it is, and how it comes about. Heartworm is a roundworm. Its name is dirofilaria immitis. It is transmitted by mosquito from dog to dog. The adult heartworm can live harmlessly in the region of the heart for many years, although signs are often seen after a few months.
Because the worm invades the heart, then the first signs tend to be inactivity, as the heart can no longer function well. The common signs and symptoms include:
- lethargy, exhaustion, a reluctance to play, walk or exercise
- rapid breathing
- coughing during activity
- weight loss, loss of appetite
Heartworm can be detected with a blood test. However, these tests are not reliable as they can be negative when a predominance of the worms are male or if there is a low population.
Veterinary classification of the problem come in several stages. Stage I is in the asymptomatic stage. Stage II is when signs are present such as lethargy and coughing. Stage III may have more advanced symptoms such as anaemia and fainting. Heart failure can result.
Veterinary treatment of heartworm is not only a lengthy process, as the worms can take a long time to die, it also needs a strong dog to withstand the rather harsh treatment.
The signs of heartburn in dogs can overlap with signs and symptoms of other diseases, so it not always conclusive.
Heartworm prevention medication is usually the same at that used to treat a dog with heartworm, albeit a milder dose. These drugs are insecticides, focussing on killing the parasites. Insecticides are highly toxic and affect the immune system.
Some of the side effects of these drugs include
- weakness and lethargy
- convulsions and other neurological symptoms
Alternative vets believe that heartworm prevention drugs cause
- skin allergies
- liver problems
- kidney problems
- many types of cancers
Heartworm, as all disease, are only a problem when the immune system of your dog is compromised. Immunity doesn’t come from a toxic drug or vaccine. Immunity comes from being healthy and happy.
The best ways to ensure your dog’s immune system is in top efficiency, include:
- feeding a quality, natural food
- avoiding any toxins wherever they come from
- avoiding stress, whatever the cause
- providing plenty of exercise and fresh air
Work in harmony with who your dog is and how they evolved. Then you can ensure as healthy a dog as is possible.
But keep the signs of heartworm in dogs in mind. If your dog does succumb to this problem, then homeopathic treatment probably offers you the best prognosis. It doesn’t try to kill the worms, rather it raises your dog’s struggling immune system, so the body can eliminate them.