Canine Coronavirus

Canine Coronavirus is an intestinal disease and cannot be transmitted to humans. COVID-19 is a respiratory condition. To date there have been no documented cases of dog-to- human transmission.

We are all aware of the term Coronavirus, and there are many stories floating around about whether or not dogs can transmit coronavirus (Covid-19) to humans.  These stories are confusing and creating unnecessary fear.  The term Coronavirus is a large group of diseases that encompasses hundreds of different viruses of varying intensities, including the most recent strain COVID-19. Other familiar strains include SARS, MERS and even Canine Coronavirus.

I am not a veterinarian nor medical professional. The information in this article has been researched and sourced at the end of the post. All medical issues or questions regarding your pet’s health or symptoms should always be brought to the attention of your veterinarian for clarification, assessment, advice and treatment.

This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

A few months ago, I wrote a blog post called Let Your Dog Sniff – Pros vs. Cons.  When I was researching the post, I found a description of what illnesses can be found in dog feces and why you should be careful of what your dog is sniffing.  One of the things I learned was that coronavirus can be found in dog poop.  At the time, the term meant little to me, but in light of the recent pandemic, I was curious.

“COVID-19 cannot be transmitted between dogs and humans.”

Update April 5th, 2020:

There has been an incident of COVID -19 found in a Tiger at the Bronx Zoo, reportedly transmitted from a zoo worker to the animal. This indicates some possibility of transmission between humans and animals. If you are showing signs of COVID-19, or have been diagnosed positive for the virus, it is best to avoid contact with your pet. It’s best not to sleep with, cough or sneeze around, or touch your pet with your bare hands. If you are healthy and out walking your dog while practicing safe distancing, it would be best not to allow others to pet your dog. The likelihood that the virus will survive on a dog’s fur for any length of time is very slim, but better to be on the safe side.

I have read many articles, posts and even memes recently, stating that the World Health Organization has determined that COVID-19 cannot be transmitted by dogs.  This news was comforting on many levels.  Firstly, mass panic in some countries was causing people to abandon their pets (or worse) for fear of having them transmit the deadly virus.  This news update put minds at ease and saved the lives of many animals. Being a dog walker exposes me to many dogs in parks and on walks. Also, I am working with many animals whose family members may or may not be at risk. Admittedly, this news from the WHO brought me a small bit of comfort.

Still puzzled by the information I had previously found regarding coronavirus in dog poop, I decided that I needed to clarify all the confusing information.  I discovered that there is a Canine Coronavirus which is specific to dogs and cannot be transmitted to humans.

What is Canine Coronavirus?
A dog sniffing or ingesting infected poop can contract Canine Coronavirus.
A dog sniffing or ingesting infected poop can contract Canine Coronavirus.

Canine Coronavirus is an intestinal disease that is transmitted from one dog to another through contact with fecal matter (poop).  A dog sniffing and/or ingesting infected poop can contract and spread the virus to other dogs.  It is not an airborne disease, but tends to spread in places where large groups of dogs gather.  It can be transmitted through direct contact with contaminated dogs as well as through sharing contaminated food dishes. In dog parks where many dogs poop, there are traces of fecal matter everywhere.  When your dog steps in it and then licks his paws, he is ingesting these traces.   

Symptoms of Canine Coronavirus:

Adult dogs may demonstrate a few minor symptoms or none at all when infected with the virus.  These only last a few days and include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Reduced food consumption
  • Rarely they will develop a fever

In puppies the disease can be significantly more serious. Because secondary infections can develop in respiratory system, the puppy can become septic if left untreated.  It is important that you take your puppy to the vet at the first sign of any unusual symptoms.  Antibiotics can be prescribed to clear up the respiratory and other secondary infections.

Incubation Period and Prevention of Canine Coronavirus?

A dog can carry the virus for up to 6 months from the time of contact.  Your dog can unknowingly transmit the virus during this period. As he may not show any signs of illness, it is imperative that you clean up after your pup. Always be aware of what he is exposed to while sniffing around on walks. You should refrain from allowing your dog to eat from group food bowls.  Many people who are trying to be generous will offer food bowls in dog parks. Group doggy daycare environments may leave a large bowl of kibble out for all dogs in their care.  These practices can cause the spread of Canine Coronavirus. 

Summary

Canine Coronavirus is an intestinal disease and cannot be transmitted to humans.  COVID-19 is a respiratory condition. To date there have been no documented cases of dog-to-human transmission.

As always, you should be aware of any change in your doggo’s behavior, sleep patterns, eating habits or changes in fecal matter; including frequency, consistency, color and odor.  Behavior, appetite and poop are the strongest indicators of your dog’s health. Any changes in these areas should be monitored, evaluated and assessed by a veterinarian as soon as symptoms develop.

Wash your paws and play Safe!

Sources
Please follow and like us:

Exercising Your Dog’s Brain

Your dog needs physical exercise, it is vital that you keep his brain stimulated as well.

Just as your dog needs physical exercise, exercising your dog’s brain is important as well.  Dogs who are bored may become destructive.  They may even turn into couch potatoes.  Neither of these scenarios are good for your pup’s health.  Just like humans, they need to be active, both mentally and physically to remain healthy.  A good rule is to spend a total of about 2 hours daily interacting with your dog. It is also a good idea to change the activities so that it doesn’t become routine and boring. Something as simple as taking your dog on a different route for his daily walks.  A change in direction can offer stimulation in the form of new smells to process which will offer them new mental challenges. See: Let Your Dog Sniff

This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

Here are some other ideas to keep him thinking!

Training time:

You can spend some together time training.  While you are teaching your pup important skills, he is processing and storing information. 

Learn a new trick:

Teaching him a new trick can be fun for both of you.  Your dog will be challenged to do something new, and you benefit from the results of having your slippers brought to you when you come home!

Playing Ball:

You can bounce or roll a ball around indoors, or you can throw it outdoors.  Your doggo will enjoy the playtime and will get to chase and find the ball when it lands. This encourages sniffing and natural hunting skills.

Play Catch:

Playing catch will provide physical exercise while offering the opportunity to incorporate extreme concentration and timing to be able to judge the timing of the ball’s movement. 

Hide and Seek:

You can hide your dog’s toy or some treats and have him find them.  This also utilizes hunting skills and let’s your dog sniff it out!

Hiking:
Hiking with your dog provides physical and mental exercise.

If you are able to take your dog to a hiking trail, he will love investigating all of the new sites and smells.  The physical challenges are great for his body. Navigating the obstacles on a trail will also provide exercise for your dog’s brain. 

Play Fetch:

Fetch involves sniffing, finding, retrieving and returning.  This simple game offers deductive skills, recall skills and information processing as well as some physical exercise. Dog’s love it!

Kong Treat Toy:

Filling a Kong with a healthy treat or even kibble keeps your pup busy for quite a while.  He has to figure out how to get the treats from inside the Kong.  This forces him to focus and find ways to manipulate the toy so that he can be rewarded with a treat. This is something you can leave for your pup if you are away from home for a few hours.

One of the unique ways I spend time playing with my dog is playing with a laser pointer.  He just loves to chase that little red dot all over the living room.  He can do this for quite a while and is exhausted when we stop. The process he is using to foresee where the laser will go next is exercising his brain while the running and chasing offers physical benefits.

Do you and your dog have any unusual interaction games? Please let me know so that I can try them with my doggo!

Please follow and like us:

Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth

Dogs can develop a number of complications from poor dental hygiene, just as humans can. Tartar and plaque buildup, periodontal disease and other oral infections can not only affect the mouth area, but can travel through the dog’s body causing damage to the to the heart as well as other organs.

How important is cleaning your dog’s teeth? Very! Dogs can develop many complications from poor dental hygiene, just as humans can. Tartar and plaque buildup, periodontal disease and other oral infections can not only affect the mouth area, but can travel through the dog’s body causing damage to the to the heart as well as other organs. Brushing your dog’s teeth can prevent numerous medical issues for your pet.

This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

Cleaning a dog’s teeth only takes 2 minutes. Once your dog is used to the practice, it will become as much a part of his daily routine as eating. These two minutes can save your doggo some serious medical issues and discomfort. It can save you thousands of dollars. A simple teeth cleaning can cost $1000.00. This does not include any specific tooth repair or extractions that can be avoided by a proper dental hygiene routine, just as you do for yourself.

Preparing Your Dog for a Cleaning

If your dog has never had his teeth cleaned, you can start by getting him comfortable with having your hands around or in his mouth. A puppy will adapt more easily, but even an older dog will get accustomed to the process if you start slow and use the proper tools. First thing to do is to get toothpaste that is made especially for dogs. There are many flavours to choose from that will make it inviting for your dog. Is he a chicken fan? Yep, they have that flavour too!

DO NOT USE HUMAN TOOTHPASTE! IT IS TOXIC FOR DOGS

Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth
Close up of a Golden Retriever smiling and showing his bottom teeth.
Start by getting your dog used to having fingers
in his mouth. Once your pup is comfortable with
this process, you can introduce a toothbrush.
You can use a soft human toothbrush or a dog
specific brush.

Now that you have the toothpaste, sit your dog somewhere where he is comfortable. Start by moving your hands and fingers around his mouth. Speak soothingly to him so he knows it’s a good touch. Once he is comfortable, add a bit of the flavored toothpaste to your finger and gently rub your finger over the teeth on the side of his mouth. Lift his lip for better access. Move from the canine (the big pointy one) back toward the molars. Do this on the top and the bottom of each side of the mouth. You will notice that your dog is licking and enjoying the flavor of the toothpaste, as if you had given him a treat.

Once your pup is comfortable with this process, you can introduce a toothbrush. You can use a soft human toothbrush or a doggo specific brush. The dog toothbrush usually has two sizes, one on each end. This allows you to select the appropriate size for the size of your dog. If your dog is more comfortable having your finger in his mouth, a finger toothbrush that you just slide on your index finger into and add the toothpaste, may be a better choice.

Be Observant

While you are brushing your dog’s teeth, be sure to watch for any unusual issues, including decay, broken teeth, broken gums or abscesses. As with any medical issue, early detection will result in faster and easier treatment and recovery.

Sometimes dogs just can’t tolerate having you clean their teeth. If this is the case, there are other options. You can have your vet clean them for you or you can ask for a recommendation of chew toys that will help to keep your dog’s teeth as clean as possible.

There are a number of choices that dogs enjoy playing with. Some toys allow you to apply the flavored toothpaste to them. This helps to ensure that he gets the benefit of the enzymes and not just the brushing action.  Always check with your vet to be sure the chew toy you select is safe for your pet.

Pet parenting is an ongoing learning experience. It’s always nice to know that others are experiencing the same milestones, challenges, and celebrations that you are. Keep in touch with The Doggo Files by signing up for our biweekly emails!

.
Please follow and like us:

Protecting your Dogs Paws from Cold, Salt and Heat

The pads of a dog’s feet are exposed to extreme temperatures and various things left on sidewalks

You look outside and see a beautiful winter wonderland. You get up, put on your coat and boots, put a harness and nice winter coat on your doggo and head out the door. Ten minutes into your walk, your pup is walking on three paws and holding the fourth up in the air. This happens so often. It could be the cold, the paw could be irritated by salt, an ice pellet may be stuck between the toes or an entire chunk of salt might be stuck up in there. Any of these problems will take the fun out of winter for these poor dogs, who, for the most part, love to frolic in the snow. There are a few ways of protecting your dog’s paws from the elements.

This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

So, what are the options?

Many people choose booties. These are great because they offer protection from all of the elements. They are warm and there is no need to wipe paws when they return home; a process that few dogs enjoy. It may take a while for your dog to get used to the feeling of having something on their feet. Take few practice runs in the house before going outside to help your pup adapt. Initially they may bite at them or refuse to stand or move once they are up, but it will become as routine as putting on a harness for both of you.

120x90 Walkee Paws Logo

It is important to choose well fitting booties with proper tread. I have found that a Velcro strap to adjust tension helps with comfort and keeps the bootie from coming off.

Another option is to choose a paw protection wax which you apply directly to the bottom of your dog’s foot. It coats the pads and puts a layer of protection between your dog’s paws and the elements. If your dog is adamant about not wearing booties, this is a great alternative. It’s best to choose a wax that is made from natural ingredients. Your dog will likely wind up ingesting anything you smear on his paws, so having healthy ingredients will save any other potential problems.

Whatever method you choose for protecting your dog’s paws, you can help maintain the health of his feet by applying a balm to help with dryness or cracking. This can be brought on by walking in all weather, including heat. The pads of a dog’s feet are exposed to extreme temperatures and various things left on sidewalks. Using a moisturizer specific to a dog’s needs, will keep your doggo comfortable.

Please follow and like us:

10 Foods that are Dangerous for Dogs

The best option is to refrain from giving our pups leftovers and samples from our plates as even the ingredients we don’t see can be life threatening. Choose healthy foods and treats for your dogs and keep a close eye on them when out walking or in dog parks.

We’ve all had that moment when we find our dog chewing on something that they picked up when we thought we were watching closely. They are fast and they smell things we can’t even see. That’s when you reach in and pull it out without even thinking of the potential repercussions of sticking your hand into a very well toothed mouth to take something that they want. You just do it, because you know that they may be consuming something dangerous. What we often don’t realize is that the foods we eat can be the most dangerous foods for dogs.

This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

Everyone knows not to give their dog chocolate, but what else should we avoid? How do these foods affect our doggos? What symptoms should we look for?

I am neither a veterinarian nor a medical professional. The information in this article has been researched and sourced at the end of the post. All medical issues or questions regarding your pet’s health or symptoms should always be brought to the attention of your veterinarian for clarification, assessment, advice and treatment.

Below is a list of 10 of the most dangerous foods for dogs, some symptoms to watch for and the potential outcome:

The best option is to refrain from giving our pups leftovers and samples from our plates. Even the ingredients we don’t see can be life threatening. Choose healthy foods and treats for your dogs and keep a close eye on them when out walking or in dog parks. You never know what other people have dropped or, sadly, intentionally left where dogs can swallow it.

WagWell Box

If you see any unusual symptoms, these or others, see a vet immediately as situations can escalate quickly.

Sources

https://www.petmd.com/dog/chocolate-toxicity

https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/people-foods-avoid-feeding-your-pets

https://www.vets-now.com/2017/01/foods-poisonous-to-dogs/

Please follow and like us:

Collar vs. Harness – Protecting Your Dog’s Neck and Spine

There are many potential hazards associated with the pressure a collar places on a dog’s neck, throat and spine.

Wearing collars in the house:

Dog collars are great for attaching dog tags and licences to, but that is about it.  Many pet parents are unaware that puppies and dogs who spend time in crates while wearing regular collars are put in jeopardy every time you leave them unsupervised. There are thousands of cases annually where dogs have accidentally strangled or hung themselves by getting caught on the bars of the crate and were unable to wriggle themselves free. Choosing the safest dog collar or harness depends on your dog’s needs and habits.

This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

This can best be avoided by removing the collar altogether before entering the crate or pen. Another option is to use a break away collar. In the case of an emergency, the dog pulling to get loose will release the clasp on the collar and the dog will be free and safe. I actually experienced this recently with my cat. We came home to find that the cat had no collar on. It was several days before we found the collar. It was wrapped around the floor-level hooks on our coat rack. Had he not been wearing a break-away collar; he may not have survived. Because of this incident, he no longer wears a collar at all. It’s just too dangerous.

Wearing collars on a walk:

Collars were traditionally used to attach leashes to when walking your dog. We are now learning that there are many potential hazards associated with the pressure a collar places on a dog’s neck, throat and spine. If the dog walks easily beside you, and never pulls, there is little chance of damage. The likelihood that your dog never pulls for any reason, is very slim. If a dog sees a squirrel, another dog, a favorite person, if he gets startled or needs correcting, the leash will probably reach full tension. As soon as this happens pressure is placed on the dog’s neck. This is where the decision between dog collar or harness comes in.

Below the area of the neck where a standard collar rests on a dog’s neck is a thin layer of skin which covers the trachea, larynx, thyroid and cervical spine. When the dog pulls (or is pulled) the collar can place pressure on any of these areas causing permanent damage. Pressure on the neck can even result in damage to the eyes. Sometimes when I am walking, I see a dog who is pulling so hard on the leash that I can actually hear the dog struggling to breathe. I am not sure why they don’t stop pulling when this level of discomfort is reached. I don’t think that dogs have the mental capacity to logically associate that if they were to stop pulling it would make it easier to breathe.

Harness
If you use a well-fitting harness – one that rests below the neck and does not rub behind the front legs – your dog will be safe and comfortable.

Now that we know that, for most dogs, we probably don’t want to attach our dog’s leash to a collar, we have to choose an alternative. A shock collar is out of the question for me. Controlling a dog with pain is, in my opinion, cruel and inhumane. What’s the safest choice? A harness. If you use a well-fitting harness – one that rests below the neck and does not rub behind the front legs – your dog will be safe and comfortable.

A leash can be attached in two places on a harness. Some have the D-link on the back, allowing the leash to pull from behind. There is little control over pulling, jumping or for training purposes when attached in this location. For a trained dog, this provides a safe and comfortable option. Deciding on a harness with the D-link in the front at the chest level offers more control over the dog’s movements. When training this serves as a gentle reminder not to pull. The resistance comes from a place that does no physical damage at all to your dog. When training or when more control is desired, choose a harness that is reversible or has a D-link in both places .

When deciding whether to choose a dog collar or harness, please consider your doggo’s safety and comfort. They will protect us from anything. We should do the same for them.

Please follow and like us:

Kennel Cough: Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

Kennel Cough is very common and, once diagnosed by a professional, can be treated with the use pharmaceuticals, naturopathic methods or a combination of the two.

When your dog coughs a deep, honking, raspy sounding cough, it can be very concerning and even frightening. This sound could indicate Kennel Cough. Kennel Cough is very common and, once diagnosed by a professional, can be treated with the use pharmaceuticals, naturalistic methods or a combination of the two. Knowing the symptoms, treatment and prevention of Kennel cough will help your dog should he be exposed.

This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

What is Kennel Cough?

It is a contagious upper respiratory infection that can be brought on by both a virus or exposure to a bacterial infection. It can be airborne or spread through direct contact with, including licking and sniffing, an infected surface. The “honking” noise occurs when there is inflammation around the larynx.

NOTE: The effects of Kennel cough can be much more serious for a senior dog or a puppy as their immune systems are not as strong.

I am neither a veterinarian nor a medical professional. The information in this article has been researched and sourced at the end of the post if required. All safety and medical issues or questions regarding your pet’s health or symptoms should always be brought to the attention of your veterinarian for clarification, assessment, advice and treatment.

What are the symptoms of Kennel Cough?

Along with the nasty cough, there can be a number of other cold-like symptoms. Your doggo might sneeze or have a runny nose. He could also have runny eyes, a low-grade fever, lethargy and a reduced appetite. Basically, all the symptoms humans exhibit when they have a bad cold. If left untreated, the symptoms can become more severe and ultimately lead to pneumonia – or worse. These symptoms can last up to 7 weeks, even longer if it’s a puppy or a senior dog. Even after the symptoms have cleared, your dog can be a carrier for several weeks.

How is Kennel cough transmitted?

Kennel cough is generally spread in areas where multiple dogs gather. This includes doggy daycares, shelters, boarding locations and even dog parks. When a dog that is carrying the virus coughs or sneezes the germs are released into the air. Poor ventilation can cause the airborne particles to spread quickly from dog to dog. In the case of the dog park, from nose to nose contact.

Treating Kennel Cough

The pharmaceutical methods typically include antibiotics to clear the infection and veterinary cough medicine to ease the symptoms and make your dog comfortable. Some natural methods include using a humidifier, honey and chicken soup. A humidifier will moisturize the air which can help to reduce the dry cough. Honey has natural anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can help to treat the symptoms. The honey will also coat the throat, minimizing the irritation which lessens the desire to cough. Chicken soup, as with humans, can sooth the throat while helping to reinforce the immune system. (Please make the soup from scratch or use sodium-free packaged soup.)

Preventing Kennel Cough

Prevention is largely done by isolating the dogs that have been exposed to the virus. When selecting a daycare or boarding facility, do some investigating to be sure that they do not have a current outbreak and that they have proper ventilation to reduce the risk of transmission should one of the other dogs be a carrier. The Bordetella vaccine is available to help fight the bacteria that, combined with the virus, results in kennel cough. There are different ways of administering the vaccine; orally, through nose drops or by injection.

You should always discuss the best prevention and treatment options for your individual pet with your vet.

Please follow and like us:

Anal Gland Expression for Dogs

Anal glands that are not expressed can become infected, impacted or cause an abscess to form

A few years ago, my German Shepherd began incessantly licking her rear end. She was still eating, drinking, walking and playing normally, but whenever she lay down in her favorite armchair she would start licking again. I thought maybe she had worms, but that test came up clear. The vet said he wanted to check her anal glands. After the inspection he said that one needed to be expressed and that the other had ruptured. This was my introduction to the importance of anal gland expression in dogs.

This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

I was surprised, as I had only ever heard of this being an issue for small dogs. She had not shown any long-term signs of discomfort. No scooting or pain when pooping. Most of my friends and clients that I spoke with who have large dogs were unaware that this could happen to a Shepherd. Because this was all very confusing, I looked into the process of anal gland expression in dogs. I wanted to know what they were, how they became clogged, how to express them and what would happen if they were not tended to.

I am neither a veterinarian nor a medical professional. The information in this article has been researched and sourced at the end of the post if required. All safety and medical issues or questions regarding your pet’s health or symptoms should always be brought to the attention of your veterinarian for clarification, assessment, advice and treatment.

What are Anal Glands?

Anal glands are two small sacs on either side of the anus. Each sac has a tiny hole close to the anus that contains fluid that is pushed out with the pressure of a bowel movement. This fluid coats the poop and has a very specific scent that identifies each dog. This is used to mark a dog’s territory.

Anal glands that are not expressed can become infected, impacted or cause an abscess to form.

Occasionally, not all the fluid is pushed out. When this happens, the anal gland(s) can become impacted, which is very uncomfortable. You will see the dog licking or biting at the anus or scooting across the floor in an attempt to relieve the impaction. Because these can also be symptoms of other conditions like worms or intestinal issues, it is best to seek advice from your vet if this is something that is new to your dog.

Some vets or groomers will offer to show you how to check and express the anal glands yourself, if that is something you would prefer to do. If you attempt to express the fluid and find that there is no impaction and the dog continues to show symptoms of discomfort, seek veterinary advice. There may be another cause for these symptoms that requires medical treatment.

What happens if impacted anal glands aren’t expressed?

WebMd states that when the fluid is left in the gland, it can become infected. The vet will have to drain the infection and the vet may prescribe antibiotics to clear the infection. Delaying expression could also cause an abscess to form. This may result in the need for surgery to remove the anal gland(s). This surgery has the potential to cause long term issues including incontinence.

Please follow and like us:

Heartworm in Dogs

A few weeks ago I got a call from one of my dog walking clients. She wanted to let me know that her dog was being treated for heartworm. I was familiar with the need to prevent heartworm in dogs, but had never encountered an infected dog. She explained that she had rescued her dog last summer so she didn’t know she had been infected at the time. There was no medical history provided when the dog was surrendered, so they did not know that the previous owner had not taken precautions to prevent the disease.

This post may contain affiliate links.  Although we may make a small commission it is at no cost to you.  See “Disclosure and Legal Things” section for complete details.

She went on to explain that the medical process was lengthy and that her dog would not be feeling up to par, so we would have to keep an eye on her for the next several months as she goes through the many steps involved in curing her.

I listened to what her needs were, followed the instructions with regards to her walks and any additional instructions that were required. So far, she seems to be doing well. There was a period of time where she had trouble eating, followed by some vomiting and some unusual fatigue, but overall, she is responding well, thankfully. Still, I had so many questions that I needed answered. I knew it was spread by mosquitoes, but how? She was a rescue from a professional agency. Why didn’t the agency catch this when they prepared her for adoption? How long and effective is the cure? How common is it? I decided to learn more.

How is it transmitted?

In short (and unpleasant) terms, a mosquito bites and infected dog and ingests the worm larvae. These worms grow inside the mosquito for about 2 weeks. At this time, if the mosquito bites another dog, it will regurgitate the ingested worms and some manage to crawl through the hole made by the bite. They then work their way into the dog’s blood stream. It takes up to 3 months before they are big enough and strong enough to break through a vein and land in the pulmonary artery (lung), where they multiply. It takes about 7 months for the worms to reach adulthood. An adult female can be approximately 15 inches and the male, approximately 5 inches. At this size they can reach the heart from the pulmonary artery. If the dog survives, the worms can live 5 to 7 years inside the body.

Heartworm in dogs will cause excessive fatigue with only mild exercise, coughing, loss of appetite and weight loss.

How is it detected?

Blood work to detect heartworm can only be used if the female worms have reached adulthood. At this stage they produce a protein in the blood that is detected by an antigen test. If the infection is still in the early stages, there would be no symptoms and no protein for antigen test to detect. This explains why a dog that was tested in rescue situation may go undetected. In this case, the dog had probably been infected only weeks before adoption. The symptoms, which include cough, becoming easily fatigued after mild exercise, loss of appetite and weight loss would not be apparent until long after the initial mosquito bite.

How is it cured?

The cure is a very long process; months, in fact. It begins with the dog being injected with a drug that kills the worms in the heart and vessels. Often, there are a series of injections. The first two are given a month apart and then two more over the following two days. During this time, as the worms die and decompose in the body, the dog will be given antibiotics to combat any infection that could arise. The dog may have a cough for several weeks afterward. The dog will also be given a drug to kill the baby worms that are beginning to grow in the body. Through most of this process, the dog is to be kept calm and have minimal to no exercise.

How common is Heartworm Infection in dogs?

According to Dwight Bowman, MS, PhD, 1 out of every 200 dogs is diagnosed as being infected with heartworm annually.

Sources:

https://www.dvm360.com/view/commentary-argument-year-round-heartworm-prevention-dogs

Please follow and like us: