or dirofilaria immitis, is an actual worm that resides in
a dog’s heart. The parasites can grow between six and twelve
inches long, and an infected dog may host more than a hundred
worms which can spread to the lungs and large vessels in the
circulatory system. As the parasites mature, they block the
blood flow and can lead to anaemia (reduced haemoglobin) or
Heartworm is carried by mosquitoes and fleas in tropical and
semi-tropical climates such as the southern United States,
but occurrences are not limited to those areas. As dog owners
travel (taking southerly vacations in winter months, for example),
they expose their pets to the disease, and northern mosquitoes
can acquire the parasites as larvae from infected dogs. Cases
of this parasite have now been reported throughout the United
States, and the parasite can affect all Dog Breeds.
Once a dog is bitten by an infected mosquito, the worms may
not reproduce for up to nine months, leaving no visible symptoms
of infection. Because of this, dog owners who travel frequently
should take all preventative measures to protect their pets
even if there is no indication of a parasite’s presence. Furthermore,
this problem can also affect cats, so owners should take precautions
with all their pets.
Heartworm symptoms are not typically noticeable until adult
worms begin to clog the animal’s circulatory system, which
may be several months after the initial infection. Potential
Although it is a serious condition, this infection can be
treated. Because diagnosis is not typically made until adult
worms have become prevalent, treatment usually involves hospitalisation.
Injections can kill the worms living in the dog’s heart, but
they must be administered with care because the powerful drugs
can also damage the animal’s liver and kidneys. Blood tests
can ascertain both the success of the treatment as well as
potential damage to other organs.
After adult worms are destroyed, additional injections are
required to kill the heartworm larvae in the dog’s bloodstream
to prevent re-infection. Supplementary treatment may also
be necessary to help repair the parasite's damage to the heart
and lungs, and the animal may be susceptible to pulmonary
infections for some time afterwards.
The best cure for heartworm is its prevention, sparing the
dog a prolonged ordeal. Both daily and monthly tablets are
available that destroy larvae before it reaches maturation,
therefore preventing the worms from lodging in the dog’s heart.
These preventative measures must be given to dogs throughout
warm seasons (spring, summer, and fall), or year-round for
animals living in or regularly visiting warm climates. Before
travelling to a location with a higher probability of worm
infection, consult your veterinarian for appropriate precautions.
Furthermore, avoid exceptionally swampy parks or areas of
long grass that will harbour elevated mosquito populations.
The preventative drugs can be exceedingly dangerous for animals
already infected with heartworm, and dog owners should always
have their pets tested before beginning a preventative program.
Spread through mosquito and flea bites, heartworm is a parasitic
infection that disrupts an animal’s circulatory system, eventually
leading to life-threatening complications. Treatment can be
extensive, but prevention is a simple matter of regular tablets.
Though this disease can affect any dog breed anywhere in the
country, it is more prevalent in warmer climates where pest
populations are higher. By becoming familiar with the disease,
its symptoms, and possible treatments, dog owners can take
adequate measures to protect their pets and preserve their
healthy, active lifestyles.
are the signs of heart disease in dogs?
some of the early stages of heart failure in dogs have no visible
signs, heart failure can be diagnosed through a clinical evaluation
by a veterinarian. Dogs with mild to moderate heart failure
typically experience heart enlargement, coughing, lethargy and
difficulty breathing. Severe heart failure is characterized
by difficulty breathing (even at rest), fainting, profound intolerance
to exercise, loss of appetite and weight loss.
Encephalitis is a flu-like illness caused by a virus.
Symptoms include high fever and inflammation of the brain.
Severe infections are usually marked by acute onset, headache,
high fever, disorientation, and occasionally convulsions.
Most common in California is Western Equine encephalitis
(WEE) and St. Louis encephalitis (SLE). Mosquitoes become
infected while feeding on birds that carry the virus.
The mosquito can then infect humans with the virus when
Malaria is also a flu-like illness caused by a protozoan.
Symptoms include fever, shaking chills, headache, nausea,
and ending with profuse sweating. After an interval free
of fever, the cycle of chills, fever, and sweating is
repeated every 2 to 3 days. Man is the only important
reservoir of human malaria, and mosquites become infected
while feeding on other humans that harbor the parasite.
The disease is transmitted when an infective female anopheline
mosquito bites a human.
West Nile Virus (WNV)
This is an emerging infectious disease that was first
recognized in the United States in 1999 in the New York
area. It was associated with a die off of birds in the
area, especially crows. Symptoms in man include low-grade
fever, slight fatigue, aches, and mild headache. The elderly
and individuals with immunocompromised systems may experience
severe headache, neck stiffness, high fever, various central
nervous abnormalities, and sometimes death. This virus
has been detected in California.
This is a disease that affects dogs only. It is caused
by a worm that damages the lungs and heart of a dog. Symptoms
are not evident until later stages of the disease. Dogs
may develop a chronic cough, tire easily, and accumulate
fluid. The heartworm parasite can cause lung, liver, and
kidney damage, or death. Mosquitoes attain worms by feeding
on infected dogs, coyotes, or foxes.
The life cycle
of the heartworm begins when a mosquito feeds on the
blood of an infected dog and ingests the microfilaria, or
mosquito larvae. Over the next 2 to 3 weeks, the larvae develop
into the infective stage in the mosquito’s body. When the
mosquito feeds on another dog, it can transmit the infection.
The infective larvae go through several stages over a 4-month
period before they arrive in the dog’s heart and lungs. The
worms may grow up to 11 inches in length and cause severe
damage to the dog’s heart and lungs, including heart failure,
dilation of the pulmonary arteries, interstitial and alveolar
lung disease, inflammation of the heart valves, and liver
and kidney failure.
If not treated, this damage usually results in the dog’s death.
If female and male worms are in the dog’s heart, baby worms
are produced that can be picked up by a feeding mosquito and
transmitted to another dog. The entire cycle averages 6 months.
Clinical signs commonly seen with heartworm disease in dogs
include weight loss, exercise intolerance, lethargy, and coughing.
Diagnosis is usually by a blood test by your veterinarian.
Treatment is available and is usually very successful. The
earlier in the disease dogs are treated, the less side effects
of treatment usually occur. Dogs with advanced cases can be
treated successfully but side effects are more common. Prevention
of heartworms is easy and can be accomplished with a once
a month tablet.
are responsible for more human death than any other living
do not bite. It is the Female mosquito that is responsible
for "biting" you, as she needs the protein from your blood
to produce eggs. She actually uses her proboscis to suck
your blood, not bite!
can swell to over double their body size before they have
even finished their meal!
mosquitoes live for about two weeks.
over 3,000 species of mosquitoes in the world, 350 of
these are located in Australia!
have been around for over 30 million years!
mosquitoes beat their wings 200-600 times per second!
" The hum of a mosquito is the sound of its wings beating!
It is suggested
that people with smelly feet and garlic on their breath
may actually be the preferred target for a mosquito!
mate while in flight!
that appear after a mosquito leaves isn't from the bite
- it's an allergic reaction to saliva the mosquito injected
under the skin to prevent the blood from clotting
like dark areas and will suck the juice out of plants
in order to live - including tree leaves, grass, shrubs,
can find you from up to 36 meters away using their sensory
organs to detect body smell, carbon dioxide, warmth and
moisture emitted from a chosen host!
are "born" in standing water, mud, ponds, tin cans, under
decks, puddles and old tires, etc.
of thousands are "born" each day in your area during infestations.
disperse less than two kilometres while others only move
a few metres away from their original breeding place.
However some species will disperse up to 50 kilometres
downwind from the larval habitats!
have shown that while bats devour a huge number of insects,
mosquitoes are only a small part of their diet.
are found all over the world, even in the Arctic
to stop mosquitoes from breeding in your backyard
- Empty bird baths at least once a week and wipe the surface
to dislodge eggs.
- Fill pot plant saucers with sand or discard the bases.
- Clean and refill pet drinking water daily.
- Keep fish ponds stocked with fish (preferably native).
- Remove any items from the garden that may hold water including
tyres, buckets and children's toys.
- Clean house gutters regularly.
- Keep swimming pools clean and chlorinated or salted.
- Check tarpaulins covering boats, pools etc to ensure that
no water is collecting and drain if required.
- Keep all drains free from obstructions such as weeds.
| Natural methods that can help
keep mosquitoes at bay include:
Plants that have been identified to repel Mosquitoes
- Mozzie Blocker (Leptospermum liversidgei)
- a native plant which effectively repels mosquitoes within
about a 3 metre radius.
- Citronella Geranium (Pelargonium citrosum)
- when pruned releases a citronella scent.
- Pyrethrum (Chrysanthemum cinerarifolium)
- flowering plant recognised as a mosquito deterrent.
- Rose Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)
- plant oil repels mosquitoes.
- Lads Love (Artemisia abrotanum)
Several Herbs have been recognised as Insect Repellents,
- Southernwood (Artemisia abrotanum)
- Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)
- Rue (Ruta graveolens)
- Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)
- Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis)
- Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)"
- Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris)
Infuse the leaves in boiling water, cool, strain and
then place the resulting liquid in a spray bottle, then
spray around you.
- Can be obtained from Tea Tree Oil, Coconut Oil
and Beeswax, Brown Vinegar and Whipped Egg White.
Plant marigolds around the yard, the flowers give off a smell that bugs do not like, so plant some in that garden also to help ward off bugs without using insecticides.
"Tough guy" Marines who spend a great deal of time "camping out" say that the very best mosquito
repellent you can use is Avon Skin-So-Soft bath oil mixed about half and half with alcohol. mix your own:
20 drops Eucalyptus oil
20 drops Cedarwood oil
10 drops Tea Tree oil
10 drops Geranium oil
2 oz. carrier oil ( such as Jojoba )
Mosquitoes still bite animals on heartworm pills. The key is to get the blood of the pet in a healthy enough condition that the mosquitoes won't want it. Mosquitoes are a parasite. Herbs that have anti-parasitic properties will discourage not only mosquitoes, but fleas and ticks also.
Geranium is an essential oil that repels mosquitos, ticks and fleas and can be used on dogs.
Directions for Geranium Use
Geranium is a very powerful essential oil, if used alone for a flea spray, we suggest you put no more than 4 drops per half cup of water and keep it refrigerated, shake before spraying, never wetting the fur, just a light spritz, and not in the eyes or nose or near the mouth.
Herbs such as Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), Clove Flower Buds (Eugenia caryophyllata), Garlic (Allium sativum), Spearmint Herb (Mentha spicata), Turmeric Root (Curcuma longa), Black Walnut (Juglans nigra), and Wormwood (Artemisia annua) are examples of what can be used to formulate an effective preventative and as part of a treatment program.
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