Can You Board a Dog with Heartworm?
Can You Board a Dog with Heartworm? (Vet Guide)
Dog boarding is an important part of owning a dog. There are times when you have to leave your dog at boarding centers like traveling, or in an emergency. But boarding centers do not allow ill or diseased dogs. Many owners have a common question: Can you board a dog with heartworms?
While heartworm cannot be transmitted through direct contact, it can be spread through the bites of mosquitos in dogs. The presence of a diseased dog at a boarding center when mosquitoes are present is a potential source of heartworm transmission to other dogs.
In addition, dogs suffering from heartworms should receive proper care, such as restricted exercise and medication. There are chances that your dog may not receive proper care, so it is better to avoid boarding a dog with heartworm. In this article, I will discuss heartworms in dogs and why boarders should avoid dogs with heartworms.
Overview of Heartworm in Dogs
Heartworm illness in dogs can be a severe and sometimes fatal ailment. It is caused by heartworms, which are long worms that live in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels of infected animals. Dogs are the natural hosts for these heartworms, which means that the heartworms within a dog mature, reproduce, and create progeny.
The severity of heartworm illness is determined by the amount of worms present in the dog, the length of the infection, and how the dog's body reacts to these heartworms. Coughing decreased ability to exercise, inability to develop, hard breathing, weakness, lethargy, and decreased stamina are the most common symptoms of a heartworm infection.
Other potential symptoms may include a mild, persistent cough, reluctance to engage in physical activity, fatigue following moderate exertion, decreased appetite, and weight loss.
Fully matured heartworms can be found in infected dogs' hearts, pulmonary arteries, and surrounding major blood vessels. Dogs with advanced heartworm illness are frequently detected, indicating that the heartworms have been present for an extended period, causing major injury to the heart, lungs, blood vessels, kidneys, and liver.
Early detection and treatment of heartworm disease enhances a pet's chances of recovery and reduces complications. The goal of heartworm therapy is to safely remove adult worms and microfilariae from the dog's body.
How Heartworm is Transmitted in Dogs?
Heartworm illness is a serious and sometimes fatal hazard to pets, particularly dogs, cats, and ferrets. As I already mentioned, this sickness is caused by an infection with the parasitic worm Dirofilaria immitis.
These worms are spread through mosquito bites when the insect takes up microscopic larval worms while feeding on blood. These larval worms grow within the mosquito and are then passed on to other dogs when the insect bites them.
Dogs play an important part in this cycle since they are the definitive host in which the worms mature, reproduce, and create new progeny while living within the dog's body. It is important to point out that heartworm disease cannot be transmitted by contact with an infected dog; it can only be contracted by being bitten by an infected mosquito.
As a result, the presence of a heartworm-infected dog at a boarding facility where mosquitoes are present poses a risk of transmission to other healthy dogs.
Why Boarding a Dog with Heartworm is a Bad Idea?
It might not be a good idea to place a dog with heartworm in a boarding facility for various reasons:
1. Limiting physical activity
Dogs with heartworm require their exercise to be curtailed as soon as the diagnosis is confirmed. This is because physical exertion accelerates the harm caused by heartworms in the heart and lungs. Complying with this requirement could be challenging, especially if your dog is used to being active. The more serious the symptoms, the less your dog should be active.
2. Risks to other dogs
While heartworm itself isn't contagious and can't spread directly from one dog to another, mosquitoes play a key role. When a mosquito bites an infected dog and then bites another dog, it can transmit heartworm larvae to the second dog. If a dog with heartworm is boarded with others, there's a risk that mosquitoes could transmit the disease to these other dogs.
Treating heartworm is a lengthy and challenging process involving a series of injections, hospitalization, pain relief, and lab tests. The severity of heartworm disease doesn't always align with the seriousness of symptoms, and even dogs with many worms may show few or no early symptoms.
More severe cases can also be treated successfully, but the potential for complications is higher. Boarding a dog with heartworm might increase the chances of complications and make monitoring the dog's condition more difficult.
Signs of Heartworms in Dogs
1. A Dry Cough
One of the earliest signs of heartworm infection in dogs can be a dry cough. Even though your puppy may initially appear healthy, it is crucial to watch out for soft, dry coughing episodes.
These parasites gradually make their way through the lungs, and a dry cough becomes more noticeable after physical activity, sometimes even leading to fainting. If your dog displays these symptoms, it is essential to have them tested for heartworms.
If your beloved furry companion seems less playful and energetic than usual, it is advisable to consult your veterinarian. Heartworm infections can significantly impact a dog's ability to engage in even basic activities.
They may show reluctance to exercise, and their breathing may become shallow. If you observe unusual tiredness and increased coughing in your dog, it is a signal to take prompt action.
3. Weight Loss and Enlarged Chest
One of the most prominent indicators of heartworm infestation is weight loss or loss of appetite. Eating can become a challenging task for a fatigued dog, leading to rapid weight loss as the disease progresses.
This sudden weight drop can result in the appearance of an enlarged chest, which is further exacerbated by fluid buildup in the chest due to the parasitic infection.
4. Breathing Difficulty
As heartworms invade the lungs and surrounding veins, dogs may experience severe breathing problems. The accumulation of fluid caused by the parasites in the blood vessels and lungs can hinder proper oxygenation of the blood.
If you observe concentrated or shallow breathing in your dog, it's crucial to seek immediate veterinary attention.
Ideally, you will recognize the signs of heartworm infection before reaching this advanced stage of the disease. When a significant number of heartworms have infiltrated the heart, blood circulation becomes compromised.
At this point, your puppy is likely to collapse. This can lead to shock and the destruction of red blood cells.
How to Prevent and Treat Heartworms in Dogs?
Heartworm preventives are safe, reasonably priced, and simple to administer. They are available in a variety of forms, including monthly chewable tablets, and injectable drugs administered every 6 or 12 months.
Heartworm preventives are only accessible through veterinarians on prescription. Some preventives just protect against heartworms, while others protect against heartworms and intestinal parasites. Still others protect against a variety of parasites, including heartworms, intestinal worms, fleas, ticks, and mites. Prevention should be done all year.
All dogs should be tested for heartworm infection once a year, which may generally be done during a normal preventive care appointment. Heartworm prevention is extremely successful, but not completely effective.
If you do not have your dog tested, you will not know if your dog needs treatment.
If your dog is diagnosed with heartworm disease, treatment should begin as soon as feasible after the diagnosis. Your dog's health may need to be stabilized with suitable therapy before true heartworm treatment can begin.
When a dog has severe heartworm illness or another serious ailment, the treatment might take several months.
Melarsomine (Immiticide®), an injectable medication, is used to kill adult heartworms. Melarsomine destroys adult heartworms in the heart and surrounding blood vessels.
Before being treated with the therapy that kills adult heartworms, your dog will be given a drug that kills microfilariae (heartworm larvae).
Your dog may need to stay in the hospital for monitoring on the day this drug is given, which might be before or after the adult heartworm injections. Following treatment, your dog will be put on a heartworm preventative medication.
While it is possible to board a dog with heartworm, it carries risks. Therefore, inform the boarding facility of your dog's condition so that all necessary precautions can be taken. However, if possible, it might be best to explore alternative arrangements for your dog's care while you are away.