CANINE HEARTWORM DISEASE
“Heartworm is an important disease of dogs in Vietnam“
HOW IS IT SPREAD?
The mosquito sucks blood from an affected dog, thus ingesting the microfilaria (baby worms)
Within the mosquito these microfilaria change into infective larvae
The mosquito then infects a healthy dog when feeding
These larvae develop into adult worms which migrate to the heart and large blood vessels
The adult female worms will start producing more microfilaria and allow the cycle to repeat
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF DISEASE?
The first symptoms of disease include coughing, breathing difficulty, weakness and exercise intolerance. As the number of adult heartworms increase they interfere with the normal functioning of the heart.
HOW CAN IT BE PREVENTED?
Heartworm is easier to prevent that cure. There are two choices:
- Giving heartworm prevention tablets and spot on EVERY month. Ideally all puppies should start from 3 months of age (at the time of their 2nd vaccination) and continue for the rest of their lives.
- PROHEART injection. This is given yearly in dogs over 9 months of age. It can be given to dogs between 3-9 months of age.
HOW TO TREAT?
Treatment is expensive and can be risky. Prevention is much better, cheaper and kinder to your dog.
- Generally, treatment involves a strong chemical (IMMITICIDE) being injected into the lumbar muscles of the dog, 2 injections, 24 hours apart.
- After you collect your dog from the clinic, it is important that it receives absolute rest i.e. NO EXERCISE and NO PLAYING for several weeks after treatment. REST IS ESSENTIAL
- One month after treatment you will need to visit the clinic for one further injection and to start preventative medicine to stop re-infection.
- Six months after treatment we need to repeat the heartworm test to ensure the infection has been cleared.