If you are a dog owner, there is a good chance you’ve been told about or heard about heartworm disease. It is not an easy thing to look at, especially when dealing with your beloved pet. We do everything we can to assure out dogs are healthy and happy. But sometimes, that isn’t enough.
In the aftermath of a heartworm antigen test kit coming back positive, you may find yourself feeling a little helpless. Luckily, it is possible to treat this problem. Veterinary laboratory procedures are now in place to help kill the heartworms and make your pet healthy again. If your heartworm preventative measures do not work and your dog needs treatment, here are a few things you can expect to happen.
Before the actual treatment begins, your vet may place your dog on a series of antibiotics to battle against the heartworm antigen. These help kill bacterium given off by the heartworms when they die that could cause health problems for your dog. All medication should be given out at the proper dosages and times.
After the period of antibiotics, it’s then time to move on to the actual procedure. The treatment lasts around 60 days. It involves injecting your pet with a series of drugs through their back, or lumbar muscles. This drug kills the worms. Your dog will need to stay in the hospital to be observed. It’s possible not all the worms will be killed the first time around, so follow-up treatments may need to be scheduled.
Like any procedure, while following it your pet should do their best to try and rest up. Their physical activities must be greatly decreased for the time being. Consult your vet to know when your dog can resume normal exercise.
No one likes to know that their dog is sick, even less so with heartworm antigens. Despite best efforts, it still is possible for your dog to catch it. Luckily, however, it’s not the end if your dog happens to contract the disease. Treatment can be very successful for your dog with the help of a trained veterinarian and a lot of time and patience. Soon the only worms your dog will have to deal with is the ones he digs up in the backyard.
If you are one of the two million people who owns a horse in the United States, you may be familiar with the equine infectious anemia virus (EIAV). The illness can be fatal and as there is no real treatment for it, prevention is your best bet to protect your animal.
The illness is often referred to as “Swamp Fever” and can infect donkeys, zebras and otters equine animals. Horses can serve as carriers of the disease, showing no symptoms but remaining able to transmit the deadly disease to other animals via a vector such as a mosquito (or other insect) or through the placenta. Horses that carry the disease but remain asymptomatic (do not look sick) are much less likely to transmit the illness to other animals. For instance, a horse fly that bites a carrier horse and a six million to one chance of transmitted EIAV to another animal. Unfortunately, animals who do show equine infectious anemia virus expression are likely to die within a short period of time (no more than two to three weeks). The illness can be confirmed with an equine infectious anemia virus antibody test also called the Coggins’ test.
- Test horses for the disease at least once a year. When and if you get new horses, make sure you test them when you buy them. Do not let them spend any time around your horses util you get the results. To be completely sure your horses are safe, isolate new horses from the others for at least 45 days.
- Do not reuse needles. Use disposable needles only once.
- Stables that serve shows need to make sure all horses that use their facility test have negative Coggins’ tests. Animals who are at risk for infection need to be retested often.
- Keep stable areas clean. This helps cut down on the number of pests that can carry the virus to new animals. It is especially important to keep the amount of manure to a minimum.
- Know the symptoms of the equine infectious anemia virus. Acute cases will cause a fever and hemorrhaging. Chronic episodes will include diarrhea, weakness, eye discharge, loss of coordination and appetite, spontaneous abortion and paralysis of the hindquarters. If you see any of these symptoms in your animals, have them tested as soon as you can.
Animals who have tested positive for the equine infectious anemia virus need to be reported to federal and state agencies who normally recommend the infected animal be euthanized to protect other horses. If you choose to quarantine an animal who has tested positive, you must put signs up alerting others to the animal’s status so they can take whatever precautions they can. If you suspect your animal has the equine infectious anemia virus, make sure you have the horse tested. Most animal clinics have the appropriate veterinary diagnostics tests to help. Vigilance against the illness is everyone’s best weapon against its spread.