Should Your Dog Be Tested For Heartworm
- All dogs should be tested annually, even those on heartworm prevention medication year round.
- Puppies under seven months old may be started on heartworm prevention even though it can take six months or more for blood work to test positive. After that, they should be tested in six months and again, six months later.
- Adult dogs over seven years old that have not previously been on a heartworm prevention regimen should be tested.
- Dogs that have missed a treatment or for whom treatment has lapse need to be tested. If youve missed even one dose, or been late to administer, your dog should be tested.
Seasonal Or Monthly Medicinal Preventatives
Heartworm medicines are available in a huge range and to select the best preventive medicine, ask your vet to prescribe one. A single dose of the chewable medicine needs to be given after a month.
If you are not living in a highly-endemic area, you can enjoy the health of your pup more fully and for longer without a worry. In winters, you dont have to worry about heartworms and may stop giving your dog heartworm-prevention drugs.
What Are The Symptoms Of Heartworm Disease In A Dog
The severity of heartworm disease is related to how many worms are living inside the dog , how long the dog has been infected, and how the dogs body is responding to the presence of the heartworms. The dogs activity level also plays a role in the severity of the disease and in when symptoms are first seen. Symptoms of heartworm disease may not be obvious in dogs that have low worm burdens, have been recently infected, or are not very active. Dogs that have heavy worm burdens, have been infected for a long time, or are very active often show obvious symptoms of heartworm disease.
There are four classes, or stages, of heartworm disease. The higher the class, the worse the disease and the more obvious the symptoms.
Not all dogs with heartworm disease develop caval syndrome. However, if left untreated, heartworm disease will progress and damage the dogs heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys, eventually causing death.
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Heartworm Medicine For Dogs
Heartworm medicine for dogs doesn’t have to be confusing. There are really two types of heartworm medicine for dogs: those that prevent heartworms in dogs and those that are used to treat heartworms in dogs after they become infected.
Preventive medications come in several forms, including chewable pills, topical spot-ons and injectable medications. Because one form or another may be easier for owners to give their dogs and because somebut not allproducts may prevent multiple parasites besides heartworms, owners and veterinarians should work together to determine the best product for an individual pet. The American Heartworm Society recommends year-round administration of heartworm preventives to ensure pets are protected from deadly heartworms.
If a dog becomes infected, the resulting heartworm disease can cause life-long damage. Treating heartworm infection and killing the adult worms that infect the dogs heart, lungs and arteries can be very expensive and requires months of treatment and multiple veterinary visits. During the treatment period, pets must be kept quiet, with exercise avoided.
Medications for heartworm prevention and treatment are available only by prescription from veterinarians. Prevention is always the best option, as damage from heartworms can be permanent.
Preventative Care For Your Dog
At Morningside Vet Clinic we understand there is so much to take on board when you have a pet and keeping on top of it all to keep your pet healthy can be a headache.
We offer a reminder service that can be sent as a text, via email or by post to help you keep your pets preventative care up to date. So just look at our check list below dogs to make sure you have everything covered:
Vaccination Annually against parvovirus, distemper, hepatitis and canine cough
* Puppies will need up to 3 vaccinations to boost their systems up to full immunity. These are done at 6, 10 and 12 weeks of age or 2-4 weeks apart depending on what age you get your pup.*
2. Heartworm prevention
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For How Long Do You Administer Deworming Medicine For German Shepherd
The medicine is effective for 30 days, but it can be given for a longer period of time if needed. Its best to administer the medicine at least three days before the next scheduled deworming day. For example, if your dog is due to receive deworming medicine on Day 31, give it on Days 29, 28, and 27 instead. You should also give your dog another dose of dewormer after two weeks from the first administration of medicine .
If youre unsure how long you should administer deworming medicine for German Shepherds, ask your vet which method would be best to use in your situation.
Protect Your German Shepherd From The Outside In
Natural pet-safe essential oil sprays can be applied to your german shepherds fur and bedding, which helps prevents bugs from making their home on these surfaces. These products contain essential oils which repel fleas and ticks. Some products, such as the one pictured below, also include a plant based compound which kills fleas and their eggs.
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Bone And Joint Problems
A number of different musculoskeletal problems have been reported in German Shepherd Dogs. While it may seem overwhelming, each condition can be diagnosed and treated to prevent undue pain and suffering. With diligent observation at home and knowledge about the diseases that may affect your friends bones, joints, or muscles, you will be able to take great care of him throughout his life.
What Do You Do After Giving A Dog Heartworm Preventative Medication
Number twothere are antibiotics that can help to start the process of treating and or killing heartworms. Let me be clear. Antibiotics do not kill heartworms. Underline that. They don’t. I’m talking about them because heartworms contain a bacterium called Wolbachia that we can kill. And if we can kill that bacteria, it will make the heartworm weaker. It will make it easier to kill and it will cause less inflammation after that worm is killed off. We normally would use either doxycycline or minocycline, and it’s a 30-day regimen. I know that’s a long time, but it’s a drop in the bucket in the big picture.
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The Heartworm Lifecycle In Dogs
In an infected dog, adult female heartworms release their offspring, called microfilariae, into the dogs bloodstream. When a mosquito bites the infected dog, the mosquito becomes infected with the microfilariae. Over the next 10 to 14 days and under the right environmental conditions, the microfilariae become infective larvae while living inside the mosquito. Microfilariae must pass through a mosquito to become infective larvae. When the infected mosquito bites another dog, the mosquito spreads the infective larvae to the dog through the bite wound. In the newly infected dog, it takes about 6 to 7 months for the infective larvae to mature into adult heartworms. The adult heartworms mate and the females release their offspring into the dogs bloodstream, completing the lifecycle. See a graphic of the heartworm lifecycle in dogs.
Heartworm disease is not contagious, meaning that a dog cannot catch the disease from being near an infected dog. Heartworm disease is only spread through the bite of a mosquito.
Inside a dog, a heartworms lifespan is 5 to 7 years. Adult heartworms look like strands of cooked spaghetti, with males reaching about 4 to 6 inches in length and females reaching about 10 to 12 inches in length. The number of worms living inside an infected dog is called the worm burden. The average worm burden in dogs is 15 worms, but that number can range from 1 to 250 worms.
What Are The Symptoms Of Heartworm Disease In Cats
Not all cats with heartworm disease show symptoms. Some cats are able to spontaneously rid themselves of heartworms without having any symptoms. However, some infected cats die suddenly from heartworm disease without ever showing signs of being sick. Cats with heartworm disease may have very nonspecific symptoms that mimic many other cat diseases. These nonspecific symptoms include vomiting, decreased activity and appetite, and weight loss. Cats with heartworm disease rarely show signs of heart failure.
In cats that show symptoms of heartworm disease, respiratory signs are the most obvious due to the lung damage caused by the heartworms. Cats typically show symptoms of heartworm disease at two time points when the immature heartworms arrive in the arteries of the heart and lungs and when the adult heartworms die.
The immature heartworms arrive in the heart and lung arteries about 3 to 4 months after a cat is bitten by an infected mosquito. Many of these immature heartworms die, causing a strong inflammatory response in the cats lungs. This response is called heartworm associated respiratory disease because respiratory signs, such as trouble breathing, increased respiratory rate, and cough, are the most obvious. It may be difficult to distinguish HARD from feline asthma or feline bronchitis.
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How Is Heartworm Disease Transmitted From One Pet To Another
The mosquito plays an essential role in the heartworm life cycle. Adult female heartworms living in an infected dog, fox, coyote, or wolf produce microscopic baby worms called microfilaria that circulate in the bloodstream. When a mosquito bites and takes a blood meal from an infected animal, it picks up these baby worms, which develop and mature into infective stage larvae over a period of 10 to 14 days. Then, when the infected mosquito bites another dog, cat, or susceptible wild animal, the infective larvae are deposited onto the surface of the animal’s skin and enter the new host through the mosquitos bite wound. Once inside a new host, it takes approximately 6 months for the larvae to mature into adult heartworms. Once mature, heartworms can live for 5 to 7 years in dogs and up to 2 or 3 years in cats. Because of the longevity of these worms, each mosquito season can lead to an increasing number of worms in an infected pet.
Are Any Other Treatments Necessary
Dogs with severe heartworm disease may require antibiotics, pain relief medications, special diets, diuretics to remove fluid accumulation in the lungs, and/or drugs to improve heart function prior to treatment for the heartworms. Even after the heartworms have been killed, some dogs may require lifetime treatment for heart failure. This includes the use of diuretics, heart medications such as ACE-inhibitors, beta-blockers or cardiac glycosides, and special low-salt diets.
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So Your Dog Has Heartworms
We have a few options for our next steps if your pet is diagnosed with heartworm disease. I’m giving you broad generalized information about how I practice medicine, but please always consult your veterinarian to develop a game plan as to how he or she would prefer to proceed for your particular case.
Whats The Best Natural Flea & Tick Preventative For German Shepherds
As detailed in the article above, we recommend a 4 prong approach:
Use a natural brewers yeast + garlic supplement
Use a natural flea & tick spray on your pet daily during warm months
Treat your yard using a natural product such as diatomaceous earth or Wondercide
Check your german shepherd daily for fleas and ticks.
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The Best Treatment Is Prevention
Many products are FDA-approved to prevent heartworms in dogs. All require a veterinarians prescription. Most products are given monthly, either as a topical liquid applied on the skin or as an oral tablet. Both chewable and non-chewable oral tablets are available. One product is injected under the skin every 6 or 12 months, and only a veterinarian can give the injection. Some heartworm preventives contain other ingredients that are effective against certain intestinal worms and other parasites .
Year-round prevention is best! Talk to your dogs veterinarian to decide which preventive is best for your dog.
The American Heartworm Society advocates to Think 12.” Give dogs 12 months of heartworm prevention and get them tested for heartworms every 12 months.
What Are Potential Heartgard Side Effects In Dogs
Most dogs on Heartgard and Heartgard Plus experience no side effects. In clinical trials, adverse effects were rare. Vomiting or diarrhea were the most frequently reported side effects and typically occurred within 24 hours of dosing. The following adverse reactions have been reported following the use of Heartgard and Heartgard Plus:
Contact your veterinarian if your dog experiences these or any other undesired effects from Heartgard or Heartgard Plus.
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What Do I Need To Know About Heartworm Testing
Heartworm disease is a serious, progressive disease. The earlier it is detected, the better the chances the pet will recover. There are few, if any, early signs of disease when a dog or cat is infected with heartworms, so detecting their presence with a heartworm test administered by a veterinarian is important. The test requires just a small blood sample from your pet, and it works by detecting the presence of heartworm proteins. Some veterinarians process heartworm tests right in their hospitals while others send the samples to a diagnostic laboratory. In either case, results are obtained quickly. If your pet tests positive, further tests may be ordered.
Preventing And Resolving Worms
The first thing to know is that theres no sure-fire way to 100% prevent your dog from getting worms. Humans are at risk of getting worms, and dogs are at risk as well. Aside from confining your dog to an unhappy life, youre always going to run the risk of getting worms.
Some dogs are more susceptible to it than others. We had two German Shepherds at the same time, having very similar lives, one never got any worms, the other did every couple of years.
- Avoid Raw Meat: Avoid letting your dog eat raw meat that you are unsure of. When in doubt just cook the meat.
- Use Natural Mosquito Repellent: You can use natural, dog-safe, essential-oil based bug repellent to prevent mosquito bites. We never had serious mosquito problems so we never use any repellents, but we probably wouldn’t use DEET if the risks for parasites are small since it can be harmful to your dog.
- See Your Vet: Make sure that your dog gets regular worming and heartworm prevention treatment from your vet.
If your German Shepherd does get a worm, youre going to want to go to your veterinarian and make sure that you can get the proper pharmaceutical treatment for them. When you have a puppy and you see him getting thinner don’t wait to go to the vet to get worm treatment medication. You don’t want to hamper your dog’s growth.
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Your German Shepherd Dogs Health
We know that because you care so much about your dog, you want to take good care of her. That is why we have summarized the health concerns we will be discussing with you over the life of your Shepherd. By knowing about health concerns specific to German Shepherd Dogs, we can tailor a preventive health plan to watch for and hopefully prevent some predictable risks.
Many diseases and health conditions are genetic, meaning they are related to your pets breed. There is a general consensus among canine genetic researchers and veterinary practitioners that the conditions weve described herein have a significant rate of incidence and/or impact in this breed. That does not mean your dog will have these problems it just means that she is more at risk than other dogs. We will describe the most common issues seen in German Shepherd Dogs to give you an idea of what may come up in her future. Of course, we cant cover every possibility here, so always check with us if you notice any unusual signs or symptoms.
Taking Care Of Your German Shepherd Dog At Home
Much of what you can do to keep your dog happy and healthy is common sense, just like it is for people. Watch her diet, make sure she gets plenty of exercise, regularly brush her teeth and coat, and call us or a pet emergency hospital when something seems unusual . Be sure to adhere to the schedule of examinations and vaccinations that we recommend for her. This is when well give her the necessary check-ups and test for diseases and conditions that are common in Shepherds. Another very important step in caring for your pet is signing up for pet health insurance. There will certainly be medical tests and procedures she will need throughout her life and pet health insurance will help you cover those costs.
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How Can I Prevent My Dog From Getting Heartworms
You can prevent your dog from getting heartworms by using a heartworm preventive. When a dog has been successfully treated for heartworms, it is essential to begin a heartworm prevention program to prevent future recurrence. With the safe and affordable heartworm preventives available today, no pet should ever have to endure this dreaded disease. Consult with your veterinarian to determine which heartworm preventive program is best for your dog.
|Contributors: Catherine Barnette, DVM Ernest Ward, DVM|
When Should My Dog Be Tested
Testing procedures and timing differ somewhat between dogs and cats.
Dogs. All dogs should be tested annually for heartworm infection, and this can usually be done during a routine visit for preventive care. Following are guidelines on testing and timing:
- Puppies under 7 months of age can be started on heartworm prevention without a heartworm test , but should be tested 6 months after your initial visit, tested again 6 months later and yearly after that to ensure they are heartworm-free.
- Adult dogs over 7 months of age and previously not on a preventive need to be tested prior to starting heartworm prevention. They, too, need to be tested 6 months and 12 months later and annually after that.
- If there has been a lapse in prevention , dogs should be tested immediately, then tested again six months later and annually after that.
Annual testing is necessary, even when dogs are on heartworm prevention year-round, to ensure that the prevention program is working. Heartworm medications are highly effective, but dogs can still become infected. If you miss just one dose of a monthly medicationor give it lateit can leave your dog unprotected. Even if you give the medication as recommended, your dog may spit out or vomit a heartworm pillor rub off a topical medication. Heartworm preventives are highly effective, but not 100 percent effective. If you dont get your dog test, you wont know your dog needs treatment.
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