The Mighty Mosquito is BACK! With all the spring rain we’ve had in Texas mosquitos are bad this year.
Heartworm disease is a year-round concern for your Brittanys. The effects of this serious, progressive disease is caused by infection of internal parasites knows as heartworms which reside in the arteries leading from the lungs to heart and, sometimes, in the heart itself.
Heartworms infect animals via mosquito bites. This means they any time mosquitoes carrying the immature heartworms (larvae) are hungry, pets are at risk for infection. Inside their new host, the microscopic larvae spend about 2-4 months grown and making their way to the pulmonary arteries, where they finally become adults and begin to reproduce around 6 to 9 months after infection.
Not surprisingly, as heartworms travel through the body, they cause damage (particularly to the heart and lungs). their ongoing presence as adults in blood vessels can lead to dangerous clots, reduced blood flow, and inflammation that can affect other organs, such as the kidneys.
Signs of Heartworm Disease
In the early stages of heartworm infection and disease, most Brittanys show no signs at all.
In Brittanys, heartworms tend to survive to the adult stage and cause various signs of disease, such as coughing, fatigue, shortness of breath, and weight loss. Adult worms can grow up to around 12 inches and live for up to 7 years in dogs.
Dangers of Heartworm Disease and Treatment
Diagnosing heartworm disease in dogs often only requires blood testing. Treatment, on the other hand, is quite stressful. To kill adult heartworms, your veterinarian will have to give yoru Brittany a series of injections. However, to decrease the chances of the dying worms blocking blood vessels – which can be fatal – treated dogs must be kept calm and their activity restricted to only slow walking during this time, which can be as difficult for you as for your pet.
Left untreated, heartworms will eventually die on their own, but again, they may cause fatal blockages in the precess. Treatment improved your Brittany’s long-term outlook; still, any damage to blood vessels and organs can have lifelong consequences for your pet.
Even after treatment, heartworm disease can continue to affect a pet’s health and quality of life.
Ways to help keep your Brittany Healthy
With its potentially deadly consequences, heartworm disease is far better prevented than endured. Fortunately, several effective preventatives exist and many also eliminate other internal parasites (some of which can infect people as well). It’s recommended that all pets, even those who stay indoors, be on year-round heartworm disease preventatives to keep them safe. Your veterinarian can recommend an appropriate product and do testing to make sure your pet is heartworm-free.
References: Healthy Pet Magazine & Dr. Jay Stewart.