If you have searched out this post because your dog has tested positive for heartworm after a heartworm antigen test, you will be looking for very different answers to the question ‘what is heartworm’ by comparison with a pet owner who is trying to decide on heartworm preventative treatment for a dog (or even whether they should go ahead and put their dog on a heartworm prevention treatment program at all).
I have tried to give all the factual answers to the question ‘what is heartworm’ in my two articles on the lifecycle of the heartworm.
These posts will tell you all you want to know about heartworm, it’s lifecycle and how it is spread. This lifecycle is entirely dependent upon the presence of two factors; firstly it depends on mosquitoes which are able to carry the tiny heartworm larvae to a new host and secondly there must be dogs or other animals, already affected with adult heartworm.
It is a bit like the saying ‘which came first, the chicken or the egg’ when thinking about how this could have come to be the case, as the lifecycle of the heartworm can only continue when the larvae from an already infected animal is passed in blood taken up by a mosquito when it bites. However, larvae cannot become adult in the host dog or other animal where they were born to the adult worms living inside the heart chambers or blood vessels near the heart.
If your dog has tested positive for adult heartworm, you will find helpful information on this site about Immiticide treatment and the possible side effects.
You will also find an article about Wolbachia, the organism that lives inside heartworms and which many vets and scientists now believe is responsible for many of the the bad reactions and complications that arise when dogs infected with adult heartworm are treated.
Finally, take a look at the information on heartworm treatment aftercare for your dog as he will need a lot of looking after if he is to make a good recovery. You can easily locate all this information on the site by using the ‘site index’ tab beneath the header bar picture at the top of every page.
If you live in an area where heartworm is a problem (and this is a problem that is spread throughout the United States as well as other countries where the mosquitoes thrive) it is vital that you take advice from your vet about using one of the heartworm preventative treatments available which will stop your dog from developing adult heartworms.
Heartworm prevention medication is relatively inexpensive and extremely safe and reliable when given according to the directions given.
So, if you came to this site wanting to know ‘what is heartworm’ because you are considering whether or not to give your dog monthly heartworm preventive medication, if you check out the articles mentioned in the paragraph above, I have no doubt that you will be checking out the articles about prevention next.
Reassure yourself that this really is the best course of action in order to avoid the devastating outcome of a serious heartworm infection for your dog and to avoid the stress and worry that this would entail. Be confident that you are keeping your dog safe.