Canine filariasis What it is, symptoms and treatment.

Canine filariasis: What it is, symptoms and treatment.

Filariasis is a disease caused by a parasite called Dirofilaria immitis, commonly known as worms. It is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito and through the blood ends up in the heart, where it lodges and reaches the adult stage, in the form of a worm. It mainly affects dogs and, to a lesser extent, other mammals, including humans. It can be fatal but can be prevented.

 

In which areas is canine filariasis most prevalent?

Filariasis is in places where there is a mosquito to transmit it. In Spain, canine filariasis is frequent almost everywhere, although Ibiza, the Canary Islands, the Ebro delta and the areas of Salamanca and Huelva stand out.

 

How is canine filariasis transmitted?

It is a mosquito-borne disease and mainly affects dogs that live outdoors or spend a lot of time outdoors, especially in warm areas. There is no need to worry if our dog has been in contact with an infested dog because canine filariasis is not transmitted directly from one dog to another; the only form of transmission is the mosquito bite.

When a female mosquito bites an infested dog and then a healthy dog, it transmits to the latter the larvae of the parasite, leaving them deposited on its skin; with time, through the blood, they will advance to the heart and there they will grow up to 30 cm long. A single bite is enough for the disease to be transmitted.

If the dog is not treated and the number of adult worms increases, they can obstruct the pulmonary arteries and even cause clots and, consequently, possible thrombosis and heart problems. And if the severity increases because the disease goes undetected and untreated, other organs, such as the kidneys, will begin to fail as well. So it can become fatal.

Transmission to humans also occurs through the bite of infested mosquitoes, although the disease is very rare in humans (more likely in people with impaired immune systems). Dogs also act as a reservoir and, therefore, this is another reason why it should be kept under control.

 

What symptoms does canine filariasis cause?

One of the main problems of this disease is that it can take months or even years to show symptoms because it is necessary to have a large number of parasites to be able to observe externally that something is happening.

For this reason, we should go to the veterinarian as soon as we observe any sign of heart failure, such as tiredness, intolerance to exercise, lack of appetite, thinness, coughing, rapid breathing, fainting after exercise, or even others, such as nosebleeds, yellowish skin, bleeding, anemia or scratching.

With blood tests and X-rays, the veterinarian will determine the severity of the case. The dog is considered to be at low risk if it has few parasites and few lesions, and at high risk if it has accumulated many parasites and the lesions are more severe.

 

Is there a treatment for canine filariasis?

The goal of treatment will always be deworming for dogs, eliminating adult worms to prevent possible heart and circulatory problems. There are effective drugs that we will administer at the discretion of the veterinarian and that will serve to kill the adult worms, although they carry the risk that the dead worms cause thrombosis in the dog’s circulatory system. Depending on the severity of the case, it may also be recommended to reduce the intensity and frequency of exercise.

 

Can canine filariasis be prevented?

Canine filariasis can be prevented with pipettes, injections or chewable tablets to be administered according to the veterinarian’s instructions. Ask your veterinarian for the most complete DOUBLE PROTECTION that will protect your dog against this and other common parasitic diseases in Spain. Choose a tasty, chewable and easy to administer antiparasitic.

In addition, it is also important to avoid places where mosquitoes breed, such as areas with stagnant water, rivers, etc., and if we go out to these places, always use repellents and preferably during the day, since at night is when mosquitoes are more frequent.

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