What is Heartworm?
How can Heartworm be Managed in Dogs?
Heartworms are also referred by their scientific name Dirofilaria immitis and actually live in the right side of the heart and arteries of the lungs. They cause a serious condition that includes heart failure, blocked arteries and breathing difficulties. Heartworm is transmitted by mosquitoes, so if you live in an area that has ANY mosquitoes, your dog is at risk of contracting heartworm.
The diagnosis of heartworm is based on the symptoms presented, a thorough physical examination, and a review of the pet’s medical history. Certain tests such as chest x-rays may be performed to determine whether the pulmonary arteries in the lungs are enlarged, as well as antigen and micro-filarial tests to detect the presence of adult heartworms.
Symptoms: Coughing, laboured breathing, fatigue, lethargy and listlessness, intolerance to exercise, weight loss, loss of appetite, and bloody phlegm. There may also be symptoms of anaemia, swollen abdomen, jaundice, bulging chest and prominent ribs. Convulsions, rapid heartbeat, diarrhoea, vomiting and in the advanced stages, heart failure or clotting in the pulmonary arteries may occur.
Treatment: Conventional treatment, after a dog has contracted Heartworm, can be quite dangerous and is not recommended. Natural treatment products are available on the market.
Activity: Take the time to research natural alternatives for heartworm treatment and control.
Prevention: It is best to try to prevent infection occurring in the first place. Some strategies may include:
- Pharmaceuticals -effective, but some people are fearful of side affects
- Mosquito control measures should be implemented.
- Herbal and homeopathic remedies have proven to be an effective alternative to treating parasites in pets. Natural remedies are safe and gentle for your pet and encourage overall health and wellbeing. Herbal ingredients such as Artemisia absinthinium (Wormwood), Eugenia caryophyllata (Cloves), Azadirachta indica (Neem) and Ruta graveolens (Herb of Grace) promote digestive health and balance, cleanse the blood and support the immune system.
- Apple cider vinegar in your dog's water or food may be useful at making your dog smell less tasty to mosquitoes. Don’t give apple cider vinegar if you are using plastic, aluminium, or galvanized watering containers as it will leach the plasticisers out of the plastic, and the metals out of aluminium or galvanized containers.
- Keep your dog indoors during heavy mosquito hours at dawn and dusk.
- Feed food grade Diatomaceous Earth (D.E.) daily. Food grade diatomaceous earth helps eliminate internal parasites, which helps boost your dog's immune system making it less susceptible to disease, plus it helps your dog better absorb all the nutrients from the food he or she is eating. Spray yourself and your companions with a good herbal flea/tick/mosquito repellent spray when going outdoors during mosquito hours.
- Small amounts of raw garlic in your dog's daily food can help make them less tasty to mosquitoes.
Learn More about animal care -click to see some relevant courses
Note: Feeding excessive amounts of garlic can cause Heinz body anaemia, so use caution when feeding garlic regularly.