Why You Should Always be on the Lookout for this Silent Killer
The little-known heartworm disease is caused a parasite transmitted mainly by mosquitos. Although seemingly harmless at first glance, it can quickly gravitate to a life-threatening complication if left untreated for a long time. And all pets ( be they dogs, cats or otherwise ) are still at risk of this ailment, despite the fact that very efficient and potent control and preventive medication are available in the market. Fortunately, however, more pet owners are waking up to the realization that heartworm disease is majorly a surreptitious type of ailment rather than a boisterous one. In other words, you have to pay extra close attention to your pet to catch these symptoms early enough, which most often than not is almost impossible.
That being said, early signs of an imminent heartworm disease include; slight fatigue and excessive panting. This is then usually followed by extreme exercise intolerance, a stubborn cough that refuses to go away, then eventually sudden death. As you can see, none of above symptoms are exactly exclusive to heartworm disease, which makes the complication even harder to diagnose and treat. And considering that mosquitos usually spread the causative agent, then pets living in the tropics are generally at a higher risk than those in more temperate regions. Unlike you, pets are more exposed to bugs and insect bites hence the likelihood of being infected is also quite high.
The good news, amidst a haze of an almost hopeless situation, is that heartworm disease is easily preventable. For starters, put your pet on a preventative medication regimen throughout the year, especially if you live in an area that is rampant with mosquitos. Secondly, minimize your pet's exposure to mosquitos by keeping them indoors especially just after dusk when mosquitos are likely to be feeding. Most importantly, adopt an effective way of eliminating mosquitos around your home's vicinity by weeding tall grass, draining any stagnant water and making proper use of pesticides.
Testing and Diagnosis
Your vet can easily test whether your dog or cat is infected with the disease during the routine annual, bi-annually or monthly check-up. It is advisable to cultivate the habit of testing for this disease regularly especially considering its almost symptomless nature. A negative test, in such occasions, is always a good sign particularly if your dog is already on an all-year round prevention plan. Nonetheless, it is easy to treat heartworm disease if it is caught early enough.