Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Do you have a dog, cat, mosquitoes?

Do you have a dog(s), cat(s)? Do you live in an area where there is lots of standing water and mosquitoes? Then you should have your pets checked for heart worm disease. Example: I adopted a very very nice dog from a shelter. When I took her to the vet to make sure everything was ok, the vet discovered she had heart worms, thereby starting a long, expensive treatment. Fortunately the treatment was effective. More about the treatment below. 

This is a nasty, nasty disease that affects mainly dogs, but can also affect cats. For a worm (parasite), they have a pretty easy life cycle. Of course the point of all living things is to pass their genes on to the next generation. Well, these horrible creatures have it made. They have two hosts (a host for a parasite is where the parasite lives), dogs (cats) and mosquitoes. They can also affect other canine types such as coyotes, wolves, etc. 

Starting at the beginning (I have to start somewhere) with the adult worms (male and female) who live in the right ventricle of the heart and the blood vessels to the lungs (pulmonary artery). Well these worms have it made. All they have to do (don't have to find food or shelter or stuff like that) is mate and mate and mate and reproduce and reproduce etc. etc. on and on maybe for years. The female lays live offspring called microfilariae. The babies go into the dog (cat)'s blood and circulate around and around. So the dog is out walking with his/her companion when they go by a lake where mosquitoes are swarming. Mosquitoes bite dog and ingest the baby worms. Baby worms circulate in mosquito and go through a couple of other stages in their life cycle leading them to an infective stage dwelling in the salivary glands of the mosquito. When this mosquito bites a dog, the microfilariae enter the blood stream of the dog. These baby worms wander around the dog's internal organs and finally end up as adults in the right ventricle of the heart and the pulmonary artery where they start the cycle over again of mate and reproduce, mate and reproduce.........

Prevention is the best way to stop heart worm disease. There is a medication given once a month to prevent the microfilariae from the mosquito from continuing the life cycle any further; adult worms do not form.

Treatment is long and expensive; I know from experience. In my case it was effective and my dog is free from heart worm and living a happy life, except she is too fat. 

Comments or questions welcome. More information can be found all over the Internet; I don't want this post to go on too long. Hope you found it interesting and useful.

Photo of worms in heart ©

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