Menacing Mozzies

Menacing Mozzies

Menacing Mozzies – Leichelle McMahon Pet Supersavers

Long hot summer nights are upon us – the dreaded buzzing around your ears let you know summer is here and the onset of mozzies are here.

Not only are mozzies annoying and itchy but can also be fatal for our furry friends.

Mosquitos bite and feeds on the blood of an infected pet it ingests microfilariae. The mosquito becomes a host while the microfilariae mature. When the same mosquito bites another pet it infects the healthy pet with heartworm larvae. The larvae migrate through the pet's tissues and circulatory system, eventually reaching the heart and lungs where adult worms grow and reproduce. By starting your puppy or kitten on heartworm prevention at 8 weeks old – you don’t have to think about it! If your pet hasn’t been on prevention – best see your vet (or ours) to have a blood test to see if they have heartworm before commencing prevention.

Heartworm prevention is better than cure!

Heartworm disease symptoms include:-
  • Dry and persistent cough
  • Lack of stamina when exercising
  • Weight loss
  • Dry coat
  • Listlessness or weakness
In more advanced cases there may be heart failure, distressed breathing, a distended abdomen, severe damage to internal organs, and sometimes collapse from sudden destruction of a pet's red blood cells. It is important to appreciate that this potentially fatal disease usually slowly. By the time an infected pet starts to show symptoms, at least half of the pet's lungs are involved: hence the importance of early diagnosis and prevention.

Treatment of heartworm
Once your dog has completed the course of steroids, heartworm preventive and antibiotics, he should be ready to start the actual adult heartworm treatment. The treatment for heartworm disease takes at least 60 days to complete and consists of a series of drug injections that kills the worms. There is only one drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration to kill adult heartworms in dogs, an organic arsenical compound that is injected into the dog's lumbar, or back, muscles.

On the days injections are given, your dog must stay in the hospital for observation to make sure he doesn’t have any serious reactions to the treatment. Your veterinarian may also prescribe a tapering dose of steroids for a period of time following the injections.

But, wait, there’s more! Your dog should be retested after treatment and six months later to ensure that all of the larvae, microfilariae and adult worms are dead. Dogs who remain heartworm positive six months after treatment may need to repeat treatment to kill the remaining worms.

So have your pet on treatment all year round – heartworm can be a silent killer!

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