If you are a pet lover and you own a lovable dog or cat, you probably don’t want him to be affected by any kinds of diseases.  Well, as a pet owner, it is your responsibility to take care of your pet, not only his outside appearance, but most importantly your pet’s heart.

Heartworm disease is one of the most common heart diseases that affect thousands of dogs, cats and other animals.  Humans may even be affected by it, although there are no concrete cases to show that heartworm disease occur in humans.  This condition is basically life-threatening that it kills thousands of dogs in the US alone.  Several researches have further revealed that heartworm disease strikes dogs and cats of every breed, age and sex.

Scientifically known as Dirofilaria immitis, heartworm disease strikes dogs and cats through a process of transmission.  It is spread only by mosquitoes carrying the heartworm offspring known as microfilariae.  This disease is transmitted when a mosquito bites an infected pet and sucks out blood containing the heartworm offspring.  The microfilariae will live for about two weeks in the mosquito, and after that period will transform to an infective larvae.  Once it became a larva, it will live in the mosquito until it dies, and the transmission is done once the mosquito bites another pet.

The heartworm disease develops in pets once the microfilariae are transmitted from one infected pet to another.  The larvae will grow, develop and migrate in the body for more than a period of several months.  Once they become mature, they tend to reside in the heart and other organs of the body, and even into the blood vessels.  As they grow in number, the more chances for the heartworm disease to become severe.

Just like heart disease common in humans, the heartworm disease manifests itself through symptoms.  They may have an acute onset, but according to some studies, the disease may appear with barely noticeable signs.  There are some instances that dogs with a low number of adult heartworms in the body may never have overt symptoms of heartworm disease.  This is also true among cats.  But, what’s more important to note is that heartworm disease can destroy the heart and lungs with varying degrees of clinical signs.

Among the clinical signs of heartworm disease are cough, difficulty of breathing, exercise intolerance, abnormal lung sounds, hepatomegaly or enlargement of the liver, temporary loss of consciousness also known as syncope, abnormal heart sounds, build up of fluid in the abdominal cavity, and death.  All of these symptoms of heartworm disease may occur as soon as the disease becomes severe.

The heartworm disease is treatable, however.  Many of the dogs and cats affected by it have been successfully treated.  Well, the purpose of the treatment is basically to destroy the adult worms of about six inches long with the so-called adulticide therapy, and the microfilariae with a microfilaricide.  These therapies are offered by most veterinarians today, knowing that these are so powerful for treating the disease.  However, there are other treatments used for treating heartworm disease, but the best way to identify the right treatment is to talk to your veterinarian.

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