Filariasis in dogs: how to prevent it

Filariasis in dogs: how to prevent it

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Filariasis in dogs. Since spring it should be talked about every day, because its dangerous period begins there and, since there is a prevention for the heartworm disease in dogs, it is the case that, although not mandatory, it is adopted. After knowing what it is and how it manifests itself, I am sure that the goodwill of faithful and conscientious masters will blossom. If you are not already.

There heartworm disease in dogs is carried by mosquitoes, depending on the parasite carried, filariasis can be cardiopulmonary or cutaneous. The latter is caused by the parasite Dirofilaria repens, has consequences only on the skin and can also be contracted by humans. There heartworm disease in dogs cardiopulmonary type, caused by the parasite Dirofilaria immitis, it is not dangerous for humans but can be lethal for dogs and other pets.

Since Dirofilaria immitis is a parasitic nematode that needs several hosts before completing its life cycle, filariasis in dogs can occur even months after the time of contagion. This makes periodic checks essential.

Filariasis in dogs: transmission

The hosts of the parasite heartworm disease in dogs there are at least two: an intermediate one, mosquitoes, and a permanent host, usually the dog. In order to transmit the disease, there must be an average daily ambient temperature of 19 degrees, otherwise the microfilariae are not active. Mosquitoes are not infected by themselves, but it is true that they work hard to convey it heartworm disease in dogs: they are very able to find the skin even if the hair is long. That is why it can be said that it affects all races, at all ages and in all dimensions heartworm disease in dogs, whether they live in the garden or in the house: mosquitoes enter and leave as they want.

There heartworm disease in dogs geographically it is endemic in Piedmont, Lombardy, Veneto, Friuli, Liguria, Emilia Romagna, but it is also spreading in Tuscany, Umbria, Lazio and Marche. In addition to the dog, very sensitive to filariasis it is also the ferret, the cat gets sick where the disease is extremely widespread, such as in the rice fields of Piedmont or Veneto.

Filariasis in dogs: life cycle

To understand how to deal with the heartworm disease in dogs it is necessary to know the life cycle of this parasite so much enemy of our beloved animals. Let's start from the evidence, from the infected dog. When a mosquito bites it and ingests its blood, rich in microfilariae, we are at the stage of L1 larva which, after seven days becomes L2, and after another seven L3.

The latter - we are two weeks away from the evidence of heartworm disease in dogs - are the infectious ones: when the mosquito bites another dog, they enter the subcutis, reach the capillaries and become L4 after 6-12 days. After about two months they become the adult stage L5, within four months, they reach the heart and pulmonary arteries, damaging them even after 6 months: this is why it is often noticeable late heartworm disease in dogs. Sometimes too late: a single sick animal can harbor 3 to 50 adult parasites that live up to 7 years, provided they do not kill them first.

Filariasis in dogs: symptoms

Speaking of "noticing in time" the heartworm disease in dogs, here are the signs to be suspicious of: itching, subcutaneous nodules, inappetence, fatigue, dry cough, anemia. If not treated well, the heartworm disease in dogs it can be lethal to the animal and cause pulmonary embolism, heart failure, accumulation of fluids in the abdominal area and neurological signs.

There heartworm disease in dogs divides the infected into 4 classes in increasing order of severity: the first is the least serious. Class 1 means that there are parasites but they have not yet caused serious damage so the dog is in a good state of health even if the antigenic blood tests are positive.

Class 2 represents the moderate form: adult parasites begin to cause damage to the heart and pulmonary arteries, cough, dyspnoea, fatigue, heart murmurs appear, but the dog still has a good state of nutrition or only a slight weight loss which perhaps is not noticed.

For the heartworm disease in dogs Class 3 is already a severe form: the heart and arteries are extremely damaged, the dog, severely lost, has dyspnea, cough, anemia, and epistaxis, lung damage and blood clots may appear. The most serious class is then Class 4 of the heartworm disease in dogs, said vena cava syndrome because the parasites invaded the right heart, the pulmonary arteries and coming up from the right atrium have come to obstruct the vena cava.

Heartworm disease in dogs: diagnosis

The diagnosis of heartworm disease in dogs often it is late, it arrives when you are already in Class 3 or 4. From a drop of blood on a slide, observed well, you can understand if the microfilariae in a circle. Although there are no doubts, the adult parasites may not have produced many microfilariae yet or only males or females are present in the dog's heart. We talk about heartworm disease in dogs but occult: no microfilariae in circulation, but the damage to the heart is still there.

In case of positivity, complete haematological examinations, radiographs and an accurate cardiological examination with echocardiography are usually continued to stage the patient. It is always important to verify that, with the heartworm disease in dogsthere are also no leishmaniasis or tick-borne diseases.

Filariasis in dogs: therapy

Classical therapy for heartworm disease in dogs consists in the administration of anticoagulants to minimize the risk of emboli, it must always be decided by the veterinarian and carefully monitored because it is potentially fatal for the dog.

To kill adult heartworms there is also a derivative of arsenic, to be injected into the lumbar muscles for two days in a row: it causes pain and necrotizes the muscle in which it is done. All this is accompanied by microfilaricide therapy and another to treat residual heart disease.
These are only summary indications but the "do it yourself" with the heartworm disease in dogs it doesn't exist, you just have to go to the vet and trust him without looking for self-medications or "enlightened" alternatives. This also applies to prevention.

Filariasis in dogs: prevention

There prophylaxis for heartworm it is not mandatory, but especially in endemic areas it is highly recommended. To prevent the heartworm disease in dogs there are three possibilities, and even simple ones, the vet can help us choose the most suitable. There are special spot on to apply, for example, or you can give an injection that lasts six months.

Third way, often taken, is that of tablets that the dog ingests from late spring to autumn including, Beware that not all tablets can be given to all breeds of dogs, the veterinarian knows this and can also indicate the right time to take them because the tablets are retroactive: they kill the microfilariae inoculated the previous month, they do not protect from those of the following month. Do-it-yourself remedies, such as not letting your dog go out at night and twilight or treating them with regular mosquito repellents, for heartworm disease in dogs they are completely unsafe and not recommended.

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