Understanding Heartworm Disease and Current Therapy
Heartworm infection is not necessarily heartworm disease. You may have been told that your pet has heartworms and you do not know what to do. You are worried that you do not have the money for the treatment. You are worried that if you do nothing, your pet may die and that if you do the treatment your pet may also die. You have heard that you cannot start your pet on heartworm prevention because he or she is positive for heartworms. Recent advances in heartworm research, offer dogs a better chance than ever of surviving heartworm infection.
Heartworms are parasites and no parasites want to kill their host. If heartworms killed your dog, the heartworms would die as well. It takes many years for heartworm infections to develop into fatal disease. This gives the pet owner many oportunities to help their pet fight this parasite. By understanding the Heartworm Life Cycle and the mode of action of new preventions we can start the pet on prevention as soon as the infection is diagnosed. This prevents further infection being transmitted and improves the overall outcome of treatment.
A positive heartworm test indicates adult heartworms are present. For some lucky pets, there may be a single heartworm in the vessels that feed the lungs. Depending on the size of your pet and other factors, this one worm may cause very little damage. However, if your pet is a small pet who is allergic to heartworms then one heartworm can be a significant threat to your pet’s life. Heartworm infection does not equate to heartworm disease. Heartworm disease is progressive. It starts as mild almost unnoticeable disease to severe lung disease. There is a progression from normal blood pressure in the lungs to high blood pressure in the lungs, from normal heart function to heart failure. In the most severe cases we see migration of the heartworms through the heart, past the main pulmonary arteries to the vena cava causing Caval Syndrome.
There are new therapies, new understanding and new hope for your pet with heartworm disease.