Heartworms are also called as Dirofilaria immitis which spreads from host to host. This disease mainly spreads through mosquito bites. Heartworm is a kind of filaria which is a little thread-like worm, causes filarisis. Mostly, these diseases are affected by dogs. But the cats, foxes, wolves and many other animals like ferrets, sea lions are also affected by this disease. The parasite commonly causes damage to lung vessels and tissues.
At one time, Heartworms are commonly found in Southern United States. But now, due to the spread of mosquitoes, the disease has spread to all nearby locations. Heartworms are also found in Southern Europe, South Europe, Middle East, South East Asia, Australia, Japan and Korea.
Now, we can see some of the symptoms of Heartworm disease in pets:
At the starting stage of the infection, we cannot find any outward signs. After the few days of parasite arrival in the circulatory system, the arteries begins to damage. As the worm is so large, the immune cells cannot destroy the worm. So, the Heartworm starts attacking. As long as the infection persists, the symptoms will also be more.
# Chronic Soft Coughing
As the lungs are unable to supply oxygen to blood, coughing occurs. Due to abnormal clotting in lungs, nose bleeding may occur. A form of non-infectious pneumonia may occur due to the parasitic infiltration in the lungs.
# Chronic Immune Stimulation
If a pet has not undergone any treatment for Heartworm, chronic Immune Stimulation may occur. Antibodies can play important role in protecting. But the antibodies also develop inflammatory proteins and when the immune is chronically stimulated, the antibodies develop large quantities of proteins. These proteins cause damage in eyes, kidneys, joints and blood vessels.
# Congestive heart failure
The blood is pumped easily through the vessels of heart and lungs in a normal heart. But in the infected arteries with worms, the heart needs to work so hard to push the blood. Normally, the right side of the heart must work high to improve its efficiency. But if the right side of the heart gets too weak, fluid will accumulate in the abdominal cavities and chest as well as it disrupts the working of electrical impulses. If the electrical impulses stand still, it leads to instant death.
Heartworm disease in Cats
The immune system of cat is more reactive to the inflammatory proteins produced by heartworms. In cats, the signs of chronic coughing or vomiting, lung disease will develop more. As in dogs, the cats can also be subject to sudden death. Other than the lungs and circulatory system, the GI tract, kidneys and even nervous system also gets affected.
Prevention of Heartworm disease
Heartworm diseases are highly preventable. In this modern era, there are many heartworm preventives which are highly effective and safe. Consult your veterinarian and get best tips to keep this heartworm disease away from your pets.