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Heartworms in Dogs

Does any of yall know what the signs of heartworms in a dog are? Is there stages? I need to know anything about this. I have a Terrier & she is acting somewhat sick. She is usually very hyperactive & now she is slightly lazy.Last year she got sick & started losing her hair,then coughing. I thought it might be heartworms. Then i started to see her neck swelling,there was what looked to be a bite. Finally after giving her antibiotics the neck area started draining with a pus substance. She recovered very well. Now she is looking & starting to act the same except her neck is fine. Except for the scars left from last year.Please can someone help? I don't have a lot of money for a vet.She is doing some coughing.Thanks ladies

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Caughing is one of the symptoms of advanced heart worms... the tests for heart woms are not real expensive and you should call around and compare prices. the SPCA may also offer low cost vet care. I know the one in Dallas does.

Heart worms are fatal and VERY prevelant here in texas, they are caused by being bit by an infected mesquito.

The treatment for heart worms is a lot less exoensive today than years past and the SPCA may be able to offer low cost treatment or send you some where that can.

Good luck-A.

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Hi K., coughing and lethargy are definitely signs of heartworms. You should get the dog tested asap, as this is a deadly disease. I believe the tests run between $30 and $50. If the test comes back negative, heartworm prevention is available and very important since the disease is very easily transmitted by mosquitos.

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It sounds to me like your dog might have allergies.You can give them benadryl but you need to call your vet and find out about how much to give.The spot on her neck sounds like a hot spot.She could have gotten it for alleriies or fleas.The skin get infected and causes a irratated patch of skin with hair lose.Just watch and see if she is scratching alot.The coughing could definitly be from that.I worked as a vet technician for 3 years and it could be a lot of things.If you are worried about heart worms then you can get her tested but the treatment is very expensive.the test is not however.But if you cant afford to have her treated then dont worry about the test.I know how it feels to not have the money vets can be very expensive.just love your animal as much as you can.That is the best you can do.Imagine where your animal would be if it wasnt for you.It might be a stray or in some terrible home.You are doing everything you can to help your animal.Alway remeber that.Try googling it and it might make you feel a little better.If the timing this year is about the same time as it was last year I would bet that it is alleries.Also if it was heart worms last year then she would not have gotten better they dont just go away so she would have just gotten worse.If it is the same as last year then you can almost bet not heartworms

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The only way you can tell if it is Heartworms is take the animal for a test they are usually inexpensive about 15.00. If your dog does have them it is very expensive to treat we spent almost 1,000.00 on treatment. You should get your pet on a preventitive. You can order them cheaper on petshed.com. Heartworms are very serious and will eventually kill your pet.

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K., You need to consult with a veterinarian. They will give you treatment options and may very well not be heartworm but kennel cough etc> here is some info: If caught soon enough its treatable on heartworm and so is kennel cough.


The bottom line: Heartworm is a significant disease in dogs and cats. The treatment involves managing the heart, vascular and systemic disease present as well as eliminating the parasites. The goal of treatment is to eliminate the worms one way or another so the animal’s body can rebuild itself and return to the best possible post-infection health. This sounds simple but it can be very complicated depending upon the number of worms present, the dog’s reaction to their presence, the patient’s general state of health, handling the side effects from the medication and the effects on the patient of the dead worms within the circulatory system.

By now, it is clear that the treatment varies from dog to dog. Each animal’s personal condition is evaluated and the treatment protocol tailored to best effect a full recovery with the least side effects. Therefore, this discussion of heartworm treatment will be very general regarding the medications used and the more common side effects. The specific treatment protocol for your pet will be left up to your veterinarian since there is no way to predict how each animal will react to Heartworm treatment.

Treatment involves two basic areas:
1st) Patient evaluation and stabilizing for treatment procedure.
2nd) Elimination of all forms (adult, larvae, and microfilaria) of the Heartworm parasite.

Patient evaluation and stabilization

This involves X-rays, blood tests, heart evaluation, and any other tests indicated to completely evaluate the pet. The veterinarian evaluates the over-all health of the animal, then determines how to best proceed with treatment. Part of this evaluation is staging the severity of the Heartworm Disease in the dog. Some animals need to have certain conditions stabilized before Heartworm treatment can proceed. Those in third stage Heartworm disease may require deliberation to decide if it is best to try surgical removal of some worms through the jugular vein before any other steps of parasite elimination are considered.

Elimination of the Heartworm Parasite

This is a two-step process. The adult worms and the microfilaria are eliminated separately. No one medication kills both. The adults are treated first then a different treatment is used to kill the microfilaria and migrating larvae.

The most serious side effects usually occur with the treatment of the adult worms. As the worms die they lodge in the lung arteries and block even more blood vessels than before treatment. Besides the usual inflammation caused by the presence of the worms, the inflammation is amplified due to the decomposing worms within the blood vessels. This worm destruction releases foreign substances in to the dog’s circulation as the worms break down and are eliminated from the dog by the immune systems. A large amount of inflammation and swelling generally occurs during this period.

Before treatment begins, it is very important to ask your veterinarian any questions you may have about the treatment and what to expect. Some veterinarians will keep the dogs in the hospital during treatments to watch them closely. Your Doctor will make the decisions on an individual basis regarding what would be best for your dog.

The prescription medications used to treat the adult Heartworms are called adulticides. The two adulticides used most commonly are derivatives of arsenic. It is not known exactly how these medications work to kill the worms. We just know they do work.

NOTE: New medications may be available at any time; this listing of treatments may not be complete!

The first one is thiacetarsamide (Caparsolate). It has been used for at least half a century and is effective but can be toxic to the liver, kidneys, or cause severe irritation if the solution gets outside of the vein. The second medication is called Melarsomine dihydrochloride (Immiticide). With fewer side effects than thiacetarsamide, it is also an arsenic derivative and is administered by a careful intramuscular injection. It appears to be as effective and possibly more so in dogs than thiacetarsamide. It has potential for significant side effects and close veterinary monitoring is very important.

Side effects from the medication can be immediate or take up to 2 weeks to appear. One aspect of the side effects are due to the destruction of the adult worms and the resulting blood vessel blockage and inflammation. No matter what adulticide is used, it is very important to keep your dog very quiet and follow all of your Doctor’s instructions. If you have any doubt about what to do or what is going on, do not hesitate to call your veterinarian ASAP.

As the inflammation peaks after adulticide treatment at 5-10 days, sometimes anti-inflammatory medications are used. The veterinarian will determine at the time what to use after evaluating the severity of the reaction. Some anti-inflammatory medications can reduce the effectiveness of the adulticide. Therefore it is a judgment call regarding what is best for the pet’s health at the time.

Some patients even require a second set of adulticide treatments since the very immature L5 Heartworms and young female adults are more resistant to the treatment.

After the adulticide treatment and its side effects are resolved (usually at about 1 month post treatment), the microfilaria are then eliminated with one or another of two common Heartworm preventatives, Ivermectin (HeartGard) or Mibemycin oxime (Interceptor). This will be done approximately one month after the adulticide treatment, depending on your veterinarian’s final decision regarding when it can be done.

Approximately four months after adulticide therapy, the dogs are retested for the presence of Heartworm. This will determine if a second treatment will be needed.

In Summary

Once the Heartworm is eliminated from the dog, then preventative medication is continued as prescribed by your veterinarian. Each dog’s response to Heartworm treatment is different so the information presented here in ThePetCenter.com is a general guide to help you understand the basics of Heartworm eradication. Your veterinarian will communicate more of the specific information as it relates to your pet’s particular circumstances and your pet’s probable response to treatment. Our goal is to help you better understand that the process is involved, the medication alone can be toxic, and every animal reacts differently.

Preventing Heartworm Disease is definitely easier on the dog and is now much simpler than it used to be. The most common preventatives are given once a month by the pet’s caretaker. Preventatives kill the immature Heartworm larvae before they molt to the L5 stage. As long as they are given every month, they are very effective in preventing Heartworm infection and subsequent development of Heartworm Disease.

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My mom's dog was recently diagnosed and died from Heartworms. The only sign she saw at first was that he was not as active as usual and he was couging alot. It turned out that by the time she was able to get him to the vet it was too late. They gave him some medicine to help lessen the symptoms but they couldn't treat him because he would not have made it through the treatment. Please if you can take your dog to the vet and have her tested for heartworms.

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Our dog was just diagnoised with heartworms and the vet said that coughing is one of the first signs of it. Also if their stomach is bloated. We are just giving our dog the heartworm medicine plus 2 aspirins a day and a vit. C a day. They said they have a life span of 18 months. Luckily our dog is not showing alot of the signs even though he has them and we are praying that he will make it through the 18 months.

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I have a vet that we use down in East Texas. Just call and talk with them and see what they say. Very nice people. ###-###-####, Spencer Vet Services. If for some reason you do need to take her to the vet - I am not for sure where you live, but there is a vet in Terrell that is inexpensive - Risinger Vet. It is located on Hwy 148. I hope this helps!

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Well, I don't know much about heartworms, but wanted to point out a vet to you. I did look where you live and it would be a bit of a drive, so I don't know if it's worth it with gas prices the way they are, but thought I'd tell you anyway.

The best thing to do for her is simply get her tested. After that, they can tell you what to do. The vet is Petmobile and they're located in Garland. However, they have mobile pet clinics during the month. The clinics are free to go to (you don't have to pay an office visit, which is usually the kicker) and the cost on the website says $20. Surprisingly there's a special in May for $2 off the heartworm test- so it's only $18.

Check out the website if you like at http://www.petmobile.com/ and you can check out yourself where the mobile clinics are being held and the prices (bottom left box on the homepage).

HTH some. Sounds like she's definitely unwell. Heartworm can be very painful and if she's tired and coughing, something's not right. Dogs never tell you when they're hurting because it's a sign of weakness and by instinct, they don't show when they're weak.

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best thing to do for your dog is go online and locate where mobile pet will be this saturday and take your dog for a heartworm test. they do it right there and will tell you the results that day... they will also be able to give you any medication for your dog. it is cheaper then the vet but it is a vet just not with the vet charge. i take all 4 of my animals for their shots to petmobile.com each year and when i need a vet for more serious matters i do have a regular vet i us in allen. but for general things when money is tight i take them on saturdays to the petmobile and they are very nice loveing caring people.

their prices are online too so you will know what it will cost before you go.

good luck

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