Dirofilaria immitis
Heart worms are large worms that live in the hearts of dogs and cats.
They are also found in other species, including ferrets, foxes, wolves,
sea lions, and horses. Dogs are the common host for this parasite.
It is a long, spaghetti-like worm that can be anywhere
from 6 to 10 inches in length (~17 - 27 cm).

The Heart worm Life Cycle
A mosquito bites a heart worm-infected animal.
The mosquito is then carrying microscopic
versions of the heart worm, called microfilariae.
When the mosquito bites another dog or cat,
that animal is now infected with the heart worm microfilariae.
Within 70 to 90 days, the microfilariae have made it through
the tissues to the animal's heart, where they reproduce
(providing both male and female worms are present)
and live for several years.
If both sexes of worms are present,
they will be producing their own little microfilariae within
6 - 7 months after that mosquito bite.
The cycle continues

Signs and Symptoms of Heart worms
Mild to moderate - cough, reluctance/inability to exercise
Severe - marked shortness of breath, coughing, fainting episodes,
weight loss, fever, abdominal swelling (ascites), death.

Diagnosis of Heart worms
Diagnosis is most commonly done by a blood test in your Veterinarian's office.
Additionally, x-ray, ultrasound's, or other tests may be performed.

Treating Whipworms
Treatment for heart worm is not without some risk.
Bloods tests are used to assess kidney and liver
function before initiating treatment.
The worms are killed slowly,
so as not to cause a sudden blockage
in the heart or lungs, and the patient must be kept quiet.
The next phase is medication to kill the remaining microfilariae.

Your Veterinarian must first test your pet and find the heart worm status to be negative.
You can then begin heart worm prevention.
Prevention is in the form of a chew able daily or monthly tablet,
given in the summer months or year round, depending on the climate where you live.
Mosquito's are the cause,
and the prevention of mosquito bites aids in the over all strategy in combating this parasite.
Especially if you run a field dog or have an animal who is exposed
to the natural environment more then a dog who live in a city.

Human Animals & Heartworms
Humans are not a natural host for heart worm,
but there have been a few rare reports of human cases.
In humans, the heart worm is usually found as a single worm
in the lung versus the heart.
Heart worm is also known as Dirofilaria Immitis.
It is a long, spaghetti-like worm that can be anywhere
from 6 to 14 inches in length (~17 - 27 cm).
Female worms are longer than the male heart worms.

John A Sampson I
K9 Training
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