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Canine Heartworm Disease
Heartworm infection has been found in dogs in all 50 states, and is considered at least regionally endemic in each of the states except Alaska. Any dog regardless of age, sex or habitat is susceptible to heartworm infection.  
 
All dogs are at risk of developing heartworm disease, regardless of whether or not they spend most of their day indoors.

Once a dog has contracted this serious disease, treatment can be complicated, risky and expensive. Without treatment, however, the disease is often fatal. Therefore, heartworm prevention is the best way to protect your dog.

Heartworms are large worms which live in the large blood vessels surrounding the heart.

They reproduce to generate microscopic microfilariae which live in the blood stream and later develop inside mosquitos which feed off the dog. When the mosquito bite another dog, the microfilariae are transmitted and the disease is spread.

 
Clinical Signs
Adult heartworms obstruct the major blood vessels of a dog's lungs. The severity of clinical signs is highly dependent on the number and size of the worms. The most common symptom of heartworm include a dry cough, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, weight loss, weakness and fatigue. In more serious cases, fluid will accumulate in the belly and may cause a noticeable swelling.
 
Diagnosis
Heartworm can be identified and diagnosed early by your veterinarian with a simple blood test, examining the blood for the presence of microfilariae. Another type of blood test may also be performed to rule out the possibility of an infection with worms in the absence of microfilariae. Your veterinarian may also suspect heartworm disease if your pet has evidence of cardiovascular disease or an enlarged heart on x-rays.
 
Treatment
The treatment for heartworm can be risky if your dog has a severe infection with several large worms.

Therefore, your veterinarian will need to hospitalize and monitor your pet for several days during the course of treatment.

Even after the treatment, the remains of the worms may cause serious complications, and your veterinarian will ask you to monitor your pet very closely and restrict all activity.

To avoid the need for treatment, all pet owners are advised to keep their dogs on an effective heartworm preventative, such as Interceptor, Heartgard, Sentinel or Revolution.

Regular heartworm checks should also be performed (either once a year or every two years) to ensure that no infection has occurred.
 
The disease is spread from host to host by mosquitoes carrying heartworm larvae. The infective larvae usually come from dogs within the population that have canine heartworm disease (dirofilaria immitis).  
 
 
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Please do not use our website to attempt to diagnose or treat your pet. The consultation with your veterinarian is the best source of health advice for your individual pet. You should not rely, on the veterinary advice or any other information provided on this site for the diagnosis or treatment of any specific condition. You should always consult your own veterinarian for specific advice concerning the medical condition or general treatment of your pet. Günbil German shepherd dogs, worldclassgsd.com and or Günbil German shepherds, accepts no liability related to the veterinary advice and information provided on this site regarding health matters.
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