How To Keep A Dog's Heart Healthy

Just like people, dogs are at risk for Heart Disease too.  In fact, it is estimated that nearly 8 million dogs suffer from heart disease. That translates into 10% of all dogs living in the U.S.  Heart disease can seriously impact your dog's quality of life, and his longevity.  

It would be simple if there was just one thing that caused a dog or cat to get heart disease, we could just address that one thing and be done with it. But there is no one single cause for heart disease in dogs. Several factors can contribute to it, and senior dogs are considered to be at greater risk for heart disease.

I had the opportunity to speak about Pet Heart Health with Dr. Claire Walther, DMV and Petcare Medical Lead at Zoetis animal health company. After practicing at both Banfield and in an independent general Veterinary practice, Dr. Walther's passion for educating pet parents and other Veterinarians led her to join Zoetis.

Dr. Walther shared her expertise about heart disease in dogs, and how to keep a dog's heart healthy.  Most of what we'll be discussing applies to both a dog's heart health and cat heart health as well. So c'mon pet parents, let's dive in!


In her experience as a general Veterinary practitioner, Dr. Walther has seen a wide variety of heart disease in both dogs and cats. Diseases of the heart depend on which area of the heart is impacted. In Dr. Walther's experience, the 3 most common types of heart disease she has dealt with are:

💗 Heart Murmurs, which effect the valves of the heart

💗 Chronic Heart Condition, which impacts all areas of the heart

💗 Heartworm disease, which damages the chambers and valves of the heart

A dog's heart has 4 chambers, 4 valves, and arteries that carry blood from the heart to the rest of the body. Dr. Walther used a really simple analogy to explain the main components and functions of the heart by comparing the heart to a house.

Think of the 4 chambers of the heart (2 upper chambers called Atria and 2 lower chambers called Ventricles) as being rooms in the house. You can think of the valves (Mitral valve, Tricuspid valve, Aortic valve and Pulmonary valve) in each chamber of the heart as being the doors to those rooms. The arteries of the heart can be thought of as hallways through the rooms and doorways of the house.

I love the house analogy! It really helps simplify how heart diseases relate to the various parts of the heart.

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Keep your dog's heart healthy!


Symptoms of heart disease can be difficult to spot by pet owners themselves. However, in addition to seeing your Veterinarian 1 to 2 times per year for pet wellness exams, be aware of the following symptoms. If you observe any of these symptoms, contact your Veterinarian right away. Extreme symptoms likely indicate signs of a heart problem in your dog.

Extreme Symptoms Of Heart Disease In Dogs:

💗 Difficulty breathing

💗 Coughing

💗 Extreme Lethargy

💗 Heavy Panting

Milder, or early symptoms of heart disease in dogs are more difficult for a pet parent to see. You know your pet best, so if you see subtle changes like the below symptoms contact your Veterinarian:

Mild, or Early Symptoms of Heart Disease in Dogs:

💗 Changes in their normal behavior

💗 Your pet starts showing mild coughing or panting, if they haven't had that issue before

Small changes like these are the first indicator that something might be wrong. It's important to take your dog to the Vet at least once a year, and more often if your pet is a senior or if they have known health issues.

As part of a pet's exam, your Veterinarian will listen to all four chambers of your dog's heart to see if there might be an issue.


In addition to listening to your dog's heart for signs of any anomalies, your Veterinarian may also perform one or more of these screenings:

💗 Heartworm Antigen test to see if your dog currently has heartworms. This test is usually routinely administered during your dog or cat's regular physical exams

💗 X-Rays of your dog's heart, if your Veterinarian feels it's necessary

💗 An Ultrasound of your dog's heart might be done if heart disease is suspected, or known by your Veterinarian


Dogs share many of the same risks for heart disease that humans do. Obesity is one of the most common conditions of heart disease. Being obese can contribute to worsening the condition, or may lead to the start of new types of heart disease. Follow your Vet's advice on how to keep your dog at a healthy weight.

Ask your Vet to go over what a healthy weight looks like on your dog. As a general guideline, from the side you should be able to see just some of the dog's ribs but they should not be sticking out. You should be able to feel the dog's ribs by lightly touching them. From front to back, the dog's body should have an hour-glass shape. Ask your Vet if s/he has a visual to review with you, similar to this Dog Body Condition graphic provided by Zoetis:

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Dog Body Condition Chart, courtesy of Zoetis 



Dr. Walther suggests 4 Things You Should Do To Help Keep Your Dog's Heart Healthy:

💗 Take your dog to the Veterinarian for annual health exams, more than once a year if your dog is a senior or has other health issues

💗 Keep your dog active with exercise

💗 Manage your dog’s weight, and follow your Vet's advice for keeping her at a healthy weight

💗 Administer Heartworm preventative medication all year round


Dr. Walther talked a lot about Heartworm Disease, as it is common in dogs and can be quite deadly. I'd like to expand on that topic because heartworm disease can be fatal. It's difficult and costly to treat, and often fatal, but it is so easy to prevent! Did you know that heartworm also effects Wolves and other wild animals? I didn't! That serves to increase the ability to spread heartworm disease.

If a dog within a community has tested positive for Heartworm Disease, it will likely be spread.  Not by the infected dog himself, as Heartworm is only spread via mosquito bite.  The mosquito that infected the dog will very likely bite other dogs, cats, or wildlife, continuing to infect animals with deadly heartworm larvae.

Dr. Walther said that one of the top myths about Heartworm is that it is not present in all areas of the United States. That is false, heartworm has been found in every state.  In fact, the potential for heartworm disease to spread is actually increasing in many areas of the U.S.!  There has been a 21% increase in heartworm cases as of 2016.  

Mosquitos love heat and moisture, so heartworm disease is more prevalent in warmer climates. But pets in colder climates are still at risk most of the year, even during weeks where the weather warms up for just a short period of time. The risk further increases if they travel with their owners to warmer places during Winter, which is a growing trend.

Another common myth is that cats are at a lower risk for heartworm disease than dogs. But the truth is, a heartworm-carrying mosquito is just as happy to bite your cat as it is to bite your dog.

An increase in the spread of mosquitos, as well as new varieties of mosquitos, are one reason heartworm disease has been on the rise.  Another reason is that pets are traveling more, which can increase their exposure to infected mosquitos. The fact that not all dogs and cats are given heartworm preventative medication also increases risk and contributes to the spread of the disease.  

Heartworm disease can cause permanent damage to your dog or cat’s heart.  Dr. Walther believes every dog and cat should be protected against heartworm disease year round, but sadly only about 1 in 3 dogs are on heartworm preventative medication.

I feel strongly about protecting my pets against heartworm disease. I have always given Icy and Phoebe heartworm preventative medication, and will continue to do so throughout their lives.

Interesting Fact: Heartworm disease has been around for a very long time.  I asked Dr. Walther when and how heartworm disease in pets started. She informed me that the first report of heartworm in domestic dogs appears to date back over 400 years to the observations of Birago in 1626 on dogs in Italy! Source: Science Direct

With over 65 years of animal health experience Zoetis serves Veterinarians and those who raise and care for companion and farm animals in more than 100 countries.

Zoetis is a 2020 IHS Markit Animal Health Award Winner for their Simparica TRIO medication which was recognized as Best New Companion Animal Product. That's quite an achievement! 


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Heart Disease in dogs is a common problem

I love my dogs, and I want them to live a long, healthy life. That's why I recently started them on Simparica TRIO by Zoetis. It protects against deadly Heartworm Disease, Ticks, Fleas, Roundworms and Hookworms in one monthly chewable! That is a Game Changer! For years I've been waiting for a medication that can control Heartworm, Ticks and Fleas in one medication. In case you're wondering, NO this is NOT a sponsored post, I'm just super impressed by this company and their Simparica TRIO product!

I want to thank Dr. Claire Walther for sharing this important information about Pet Heart Health, and for her insights and advice on how we can keep our dogs' hearts healthy!

Claire Walther, DVM

Dr. Claire Walther was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio. She received her BS and DVM from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. While at Purdue University, she graduated with honors for her research. During her veterinary education, she acted as a clinical pathology technician and developed a keen understanding of clinical laboratory testing. She practiced outside Indianapolis in corporate (Banfield) and independent general practice before joining Zoetis in 2016. Dr. Walther is currently a Zoetis Petcare HQ Medical Lead.

The Walther family includes 3 dogs (Eelie, Eva, and Vanilla Bean) and two cats (Gambit and Linkin). It is the love she shares for her family, both human and animal, that fosters her drive to enhance our ability to detect, prevent and treat disease within the field of veterinary medicine.

Check out the Zoetis web site for helpful articles and information about pet health, and how to be the best pet parent you can be!  

Download a Free A - Z Pet Adopter Starter Pack with all the essentials on helping a New Pet settle in, a Pet Health Checklist, and Vet Approved Guidelines on how to keep your pet healthy. It's a wealth of information on health, behavior, quality of life and more. It's great information for both new pet parents and those of us who have had pets most of our lives!

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Learn more about Heartworm Disease and the Heartworm Lifecycle in my post, HEARTWORM DISEASE IN DOGS 

Have you ever had a conversation with your Veterinarian about heart disease in your pet? We love hearing from you so please leave us a comment and tell us about it!

Is a Siberian Husky The Right Dog For You?

Wondering if a Siberian Husky would be a good dog for you?  What is it that makes a Husky so irresistible?  For starters, it's hard not to fall in love with a Husky's Striking looks. Their wolf-like facial features, thick double coated fur, and beautiful eyes; blue, amber, and bi- colored, are stunning! Hardly a week goes by without at least one stranger saying "What a beautiful dog!" when they see me with my Siberian Husky, Icy.  

Then there's the impressive athleticism of Siberian Husky dogs, their friendly loving personality, and of course their impressive role in the historical Serum Run of 1925. Teams of sled dogs saved an Alaskan town from a Diphtheria epidemic by transporting life saving anti toxin through punishing blizzard conditions and rough terrain! 

With all that going for them, who wouldn't admire and desire a Siberian Husky dog? But is a Husky right for you and your lifestyle? Sadly, Huskies are often bought or adopted and then abandoned once they are no longer puppies. Their owners soon realize they aren't able to handle the once adorable and easy to manage Husky puppy they brought home.  

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My Husky Icy on a hike. Siberian Huskies are a super high energy breed!

A Siberian Husky is not the right breed of dog for everyone. To determine whether a Husky is right for you, let's delve into their key traits. Once you have the facts you can make an informed decision about whether or not you are able to give a Husky the care and attention they need to thrive.

Physical Attributes of the Siberian Husky dog

Huskies are a medium sized dog:

🐕 Weight is approximately 45 to 60 lbs

🐕 Height is about 22" tall at the shoulders
🐕 Females are smaller than males

🐕 Fur is thick, and double coated of various shades and pattern

🐕 Eye color varies. Eyes can be brown, blue, amber or bi-colored (eg. one blue eye and one brown eye)

🐕 Facial features are of the Spitz (wolf or fox like) type 

Siberian Huskie are often confused with the Malamute breed, which looks almost identical to the Husky but is considerably larger and heavier.

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Icy playing hard in the snow. Siberian Huskies love to run!

Many people think Huskies can only live in cold, Northern climates, but that's not true. We were living in Phoenix, Arizona when we first got Icy! We've lived with her in Phoenix, New York, and Florida. I will say that during very hot Summer days we try not to have her outside in mid day. Early mornings and after sunset during very hot weather are best. I've learned that as the days get cooler her energy level spikes dramatically! She seems to really come alive in colder weather. You should see her when it snows - we literally can't get her to come back inside the house!  She loves running along the beach just as well. Like most Huskies, my girl Icy is very adaptable.

Siberian Husky Temperament

A Husky Dog's Personality draws you in right away. Because they are family oriented with a wonderful temperament, loving and often goofy personality, huskies can be a very good family dog. Most Huskies love people and other dogs. Icy was raised with our cat Maggie and learned to love cats as well as other dogs. I'm not sure every Husky would become besties with the family cat, but if a Siberian Husky puppy is raised with a cat the odds of them being friends will probably be higher. Huskies have a prey drive though, so small pets such as birds or hamsters should be kept out of reach of a Husky!

Huskies aren't necessarily barky dogs, but they do tend to be quite vocal, expressing a wide variety of vocalizations from howls to sweet chirping type sounds. If you're looking for a quiet dog, the Husky might not fit that need! 

The Chukchi people of Eastern Siberia created the Siberian Husky dog breed. It is estimated that the breed was created by the Chukchi thousands of years ago, and only brought to Alaska around 1908! They were used by the Chukchi not only as endurance dogs to pull sleds carrying food and other goods over long distances, they often acted as baby sitters because they were so good with kids and family.

Siberian Huskies need Exercise, Exercise and More Exercise! This is probably the most difficult thing for Husky owners to commit to providing on a daily basis. A 20 minute potty walk twice a day is NOT going to cut it for a Husky. Not by a long shot. Having a big yard and letting your Husky run around for half the day is Not going to cut it either. 

A Siberian Husky is a super high energy dog. They don't want to lay around, they need to run or be taken for very long walks daily. When we first got Icy, we knew she was a high energy breed but we were not prepared for the amount of energy she needed to burn every day! If a Husky doesn't get enough exercise they will become destructive - like, eat the couch while you're out food shopping destructive! 

We would literally hike with Icy in the mountains near our Phoenix home for 2 hours. We would be ready to keel over from exhaustion and Icy would look at us like "What, you're done already?!

A Siberian Husky is a good choice of dog for very active people or families, IF you consistently have the time and energy to provide ample opportunity for your Husky to be very active and burn lots of energy.

A Husky will love to engage in activities with you like running, very long walks, hiking in the mountains, running along the beach, playing fetch or tug, and puzzle games. They will also love to snuggle with you after a long day of fun and exhilarating physical activity! 

My husband and I both worked the first few years of Icy's life, we couldn't always keep up with exercising her daily. To help her burn energy during the work week we took her to Doggy Daycamp two or three times a week. It was a Godsend! Taking her to the dog park to run around, play and burn energy for an hour or so also helped a lot. The key to providing lots of exercise for your Husky is that it needs to be consistent, not 2 days of exercise and then sit in the house for 5 days. That will not work! Your dog will become bored, with pent up energy to burn. That will lead to unwanted behaviors.


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Is a Siberian Husky the Right Breed of Dog For You?

Huskies are known for being excellent escape artists! If you leave them unattended in a fenced in yard, they are likely to jump or climb that fence. Or, they might dig themselves a massive hole under the fence and escape, just out of sheer boredom.

Training a Siberian Husky

Huskies are very intelligent and learn quickly. They enjoy learning new things and being mentally challenged. Training a Siberian Husky can be challenging if you're not up to the task.  It requires a lot of consistency and patience, probably more so than many other breeds.

Siberian Huskies can be independent and headstrong, with a mind of their own. This served them well as sled dogs, when they often needed to make decisions about which direction to go on ice and snow. A sled dog sometimes needed to defy their musher's commands in order to steer the sled toward a safer direction. This strong mindedness can make Huskies more challenging to train than other dog breeds. 

One of the most maddening things about a Siberian Husky is that - no surprise - they love to PULL.  Pulling a sled is what they were bred for, right? As Icy grew, she started pulling like crazy on the leash during walks! She practically dragged me across the county every time I put the leash on. It got to the point where I didn't even want to walk her anymore, and that made me really sad.  

Fortunately, I learned some tips on how to curtail all that leash pulling. Click here for tips on How to get your dog to stop pulling on leash . The most important tip I can share with you here is to use a No Pull harness to walk a Siberian Husky. Not a regular dog collar and leash, and not a regular harness with the leash clip on the top, that will actually encourage pulling! A No Pull harness has the leash clip on the base of the harness, at the chest area. 

I found that continually training Icy keeps her engaged and mentally challenged.  I enrolled Icy in puppy class as soon as she was old enough, about 16 weeks old. She aced that class! To continually keep her engaged I enrolled her in just about every dog training class I could find; intermediate and advanced training classes, tricks training classes, agility and obedience rally classes, and therapy dog classes. She excelled in every class.

All these training classes were great bonding experiences for us.  It definitely brought Icy and I closer together and forged a really strong bond. A bond I consider to be unbreakable!

A Husky can easily become dominant if the owner and other family members, aren't strong enough to take on the role of pack leader. I don't mean that an owner or family member should be domineering or rough in any way. You don't need to do that in order to show leadership. Consistent basic training, using positive, rewards based training methods are all you need in order to show your Husky that you are the pack leader. If you're a weak leader who doesn't make the effort to train their dog and doesn't set boundaries for the dog, your Husky will likely feel compelled to step into the role of pack leader. You don't want that! Training and setting boundaries for your dog is a good way to prevent him from becoming the dominant member of the family.

Do Huskies Shed a Lot?

Well, I'd start growing a Pinocchio nose if I said Siberian Huskies didn't shed a lot. Huskies shed like crazy! I'm talking so much fur that during peak shedding times (twice a year) it can look like it's snowing.... indoors! A Siberian Husky should be brushed often, especially during shedding seasons to keep all that hair under control. If you have an aversion to dog hair, please don't get a Husky!

Now that you know what to expect, do you still think a Siberian Husky is the right dog for you?  If so Great, they are awesome dogs! Please take the time to do your research and select a very reputable Siberian Husky breeder or a reputable Siberian Husky Rescue. There are lots of great Husky rescue organizations, just search online for Siberian Husky Rescue near [insert your city name].  Search in cities and states you'd be willing to drive to as well. If you search online, please only search reputable sites and be aware of puppy mills or unsavory individuals looking to sell or "adopt out" a Husky!  


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Why Dental Health Is Important For Dogs #PetDentalHealthMonthWithOratene

 February is Pet Dental Health Month!

** We're Celebrating with a Giveaway from ZYMOX® & Oratene® Brushless Oral Care for Dogs and Cats! **

Lack of dental health in dogs and cats can lead to dental disease, which can cause more serious health issues. Toxins from periodontal disease get absorbed into the pet's blood stream which can cause infection in the body. This can potentially damage kidney, liver, heart, and brain tissue. It's estimated that over 80% of dogs will show signs of periodontal disease by age three!  I think we can safely say that paying attention to a dog's teeth should be part of our overall dog health care routine.

The large majority of dog owners don't brush their dog's teeth at all. That doesn't surprise me, in fact I'm one of those dog parents who don't brush their dog's teeth. Oh, it's not for lack of effort, believe me I've tried many times! But honestly it was always a struggle, especially with my Siberian Husky, Icy. She hated it! My efforts at trying to develop a habit of brushing their teeth every day was an Epic Fail.  But you know what? It's OK, because I found a great line of brushless pet dental health products. That's right, I said BRUSHLESS!

Providing dental care for my dogs Icy and Phoebe is easy with the Oratene line of Brushless Pet Oral Care products, by Zymox. With Oratene, my dogs really can have healthy gums, clean teeth, and fresh breath, without brushing! Oratene products are free of antibiotics and other harsh ingredients. These are the best products for dog dental health I've found, and I've tried several brands. 


Here's how Oratene works to promote Dog Dental Health

The Oratene product line features Enzymatic Brushless Oral Care for pets. That means it uses the power of enzymes to help keep your dog or cats' teeth clean, breath fresh, and gums healthy. These Veterinarian approved products make dog dental care so easy, I have pretty much ditched the dog toothbrush for good!

Oratene's natural, multi-complex enzyme system doesn't require brushing to keep your pet's mouth clean and healthy. Two patented enzyme systems work together to eliminate odor-causing bacteria and yeast, and make plaque biofilm water soluble, making it unable to stick to the pets' teeth.

Oratene's comprehensive dog dental care product line includes

Drinking Water Additive -  Just add the clear, flavorless liquid to your dog's daily drinking water. Plaque fighting enzymes wash over your dog's mouth with every lap of water to eliminate odor causing bacteria and inhibit plaque formation. 

Brushless Toothpaste Gel - Just a 1/2 inch strip of gel applied to your dog's gums twice daily keep your dog's teeth and gums clean and inhibit plaque buildup to support periodontal health. There's no rinsing needed. Icy and Phoebe really like the taste of Oratene's brushless toothpaste gel!

Breath Freshening Spray - Delivers a gentle mist that eliminates odor causing bacteria and freshens your dog's breath.

Oratene  Pet Dental Health products are safe for both Dogs and Cats and don't contain toxic ingredients such as Xylitol, Detergents, Chlorine, or Alcohol.

This post is sponsored by Zymox and Pet King Brands. I am being compensated to share information about Zymox® Oratene® Brushless Pet Oral Care products. We are pleased to share pet health information we feel is helpful and relevant to our readers.


To celebrate Pet Dental Health Month we're giving away a tube of Oratene Enzymatic Brushless Toothpaste Gel (Retail $14.99).

           🦷*** ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!! ***🦷 

Pet King Brands and Zymox are announcing their new eStore with a special offer! 

For the entire month of February get 10% off the Oratene Brushless Oral Care line of products for pets. Use code; WELOVEPETS10 when you place an online order with Zymox 

Zymox products will still be available at specialty pet stores, veterinary clinics, and authorized online sellers. But now pet parents can buy Zymox and Oratene products online directly from Pet King Brands, the manufacturer of Zymox products.  Proudly made in the U.S.A. for over 20 years. 

Get the complete selection of veterinarian approved Zymox and Oratene brushless pet Dental Care products, Ear Care products, and Skin Care products for dogs, cats, and horses.  Buy online and shop with confidence, knowing you're buying authentic Zymox brand pet care products.


What's your dog or cat dental care routine?  Please leave us a comment and share. We love when you Woof & Meow back at us!

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Heartworm Disease In Dogs

Heartworm disease in dogs is a serious, potentially fatal health condition. It can cause significant lung disease, heart failure, and other organ damage in your dog. The impacts of heartworm disease can be devastating for a dog and cause a lot of anguish for the pet parent. Heartworm is easy to prevent but difficult to cure. If your dog contracts heartworm disease the chances of death are high.  Heartworms in dogs is widespread and present in all 50 states.

What is Heartworm Disease and how is it Contracted?

Heartworm disease is caused by a parasitic worm called Dirofilaria immitis. These worms can live inside, and be transmitted by, as many as 30 different species of mosquitos.  They are carried by the mosquitos and spread when a dog or other pet is bitten by an infected mosquito. The Microfilariae, an early lifecycle stage of this parasitic worm, must pass through a mosquito in order to become infective larvae. Once transmitted to a dog through a mosquito bite, they will mature into adults within about 7 months.  They will then mate and reproduce while living inside the dog.

Heartworm worms are called “heartworms” because the adult worms live inside an infected dog's heart, lungs, and corresponding blood vessels.  They can live inside your dog for as many as 7 years! 

Adult heartworms look like strands of spaghetti, with males reaching about 4 to 6 inches in length and females reaching 10 to 12 inches in length.  On average, dogs with heartworms can host about 15 worms, but there can be as many as 300 worms inside a dog's body!

Heartworms are not necessarily a threat all 12 months out of the year if the dog doesn't live in a warm climate.  However, if you travel with your dog to an area where the heartworm season is in progress, they can be at risk for heartworms if they are not taking heartworm preventative medication. 

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Heartworm disease; hard to treat, easy to prevent. It can be fatal to dogs

Heartworm disease is not contagious between dogs. A dog can't catch the disease from an infected dog.  The disease is only spread through the bite of a mosquito.  

Testing dogs for the presence of heartworm 

Veterinarians routinely perform annual blood tests called the Heartworm Antigen test.  The test detects specific heartworm proteins, or antigens, that are released by adult female heartworms into the dog’s bloodstream.  Antigen tests detect infections with one or more adult female heartworms. The earliest the heartworm proteins can be detected in a dog’s bloodstream is about 5 months after it is bitten by an infected mosquito.  

A heartworm antigen test is usually required before a Veterinarian will prescribe heartworm preventative medication. It's important to perform the antigen test prior to administering heartworm preventative medication.  If your dog takes heartworm preventative medication while they have heartworms, they can suffer dangerous effects.

If a heartworm-positive dog begins taking a heartworm preventive medication, the dog will remain infected with adult heartworms. Heartworm preventives do not kill adult heartworms, and giving heartworm preventive to a dog infected with adult heartworms can be harmful or deadly.  If the offspring of an adult female heartworm are in the dog’s bloodstream, the preventive medication may cause the heartworm offspring to die suddenly, causing the dog to go into shock and may even result in death.

Symptoms of heartworm disease in dogs

Heartworm disease can be a silent killer because the presence of heartworms in a dog can go undetected for a long time, depending on how many heartworms are in the dog's body and how long the dog has been infected for.  Obvious symptoms may not be present until the worms have gotten a significant foothold inside the dog's body.  Some symptoms of heartworm disease to be on the lookout for are:

🕱 Coughing: Occasional in mild cases, and persistent in more severe cases

🕱 Fatigue after moderate activity

🕱 As the disease progresses, the dog may have trouble breathing and show signs of heart failure

🕱 Weight loss and decreased appetite usually indicate there is a health concern for your dog. It can also indicate your dog has heartworms

If you suspect your dog may have heartworm disease, contact your Veterinarian immediately.

How to treat heartworm disease in dogs

The treatment of heartworm disease in dogs doesn't always have a high success rate. It's also hard on the dog and can be costly.  There are several treatments available through your Veterinarian. One such treatment is a drug that contains arsenic and kills adult heartworms in dogs. It's given by deep injection into the dog's back muscles.   There is also another, less invasive drug that kills the Microfilariae (adult female heartworm's offspring) in the dog’s bloodstream.  This drug is a topical medication applied to the dog’s skin.  If your dog contracts Heartworm Disease, consult your Veterinarian for the best treatment option.

As you can probably tell, Heartworm treatments are potentially toxic to the dog’s body and can cause serious complications, such as life-threatening blood clots in the dog’s lungs.  Treatment is expensive because it may require multiple visits to the veterinarian, blood tests, x-rays, hospitalization, and a series of treatments.  Clearly Prevention is the best option! Heartworm preventative medications are available in several different forms, and there are a number of brands available.  However, you will need a prescription from your Veterinarian.

How Common is Heartworm Disease in Dogs?

The American Heartworm Society estimates that roughly 1.1 million dogs were infected with heartworm disease in 2019. This estimate was based on thousands of U.S. Veterinary practices that report heartworm testing data to this organization. Note that not all dog and cat owners bring their pets to a Veterinarian for heartworm antigen testing. In fact, some pet owners don't bring their pets to a Veterinarian at all, so this number is probably somewhat conservative.

How to prevent heartworm disease in dogs

Heartworm disease is a serious matter and can have devastating repercussions.  Although treating heartworm disease in dogs is difficult and risky, preventing your dog from getting heartworm disease is simple!  There are a number of treatment options available, and most come in a flavorful chewable tablet. You will need a prescription from a Veterinarian to obtain preventative heartworm medication.  Considering the potential risks posed by heartworms it's well worth paying a few dollars a month to protect your pet from heartworm disease. There are a couple of natural prevention products but I haven't had enough input or any experience using them to opine on their effectiveness. Talk with your Veterinarian about options.

Lifecycle of Heartworm Disease in Dogs

The Heartworm lifecycle in dogs can be a bit complicated. I've shared a lifecycle chart below that helps clarify the steps in the lifecycle;  

⮚ A mosquito bites an infected dog, ingesting heartworm Microfilariae via a blood meal.  

 The Microfilariae then develops further for 10 to 30 days in the mosquito's gut and can enter it's mouthparts. At that point they become infective larvae. 

 The microfilariae can complete their maturation after they enter a dog's body via mosquito bite and  will begin causing damage to the dog's body.

I'm sharing the below Heartworm Disease Lifecycle diagram, created by the Drake Center For Veterinary Care

This Google link brought up several other diagrams of the Heartworm Lifecycle that you may find informative as well.

Where can I learn more about Heartworm Disease in Dogs (and Cats)?

For more information on Heartworm Prevention and Heartworm Disease in Dogs and Cats, visit the American Heartworm Society's web site    

Sources for this article:  My sources for the information in this article were; U.S. Food and Drug Administration, VCA Animal Hospital  Pets WebMd , and the Drake Center for Veterinary Care 

Thanks for visiting us today, I hope you found this information on Heartworm Disease in Dogs useful!

How do you prevent Heartworm Disease in your dog, cat, or other pet?  We really appreciate your input, so please leave us a comment and share!  

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7 Ways The Caronavirus Changed Life For My Dogs

The Caronavirus Pandemic has changed the world, creating a New Normal in  how people are navigating their daily lives right now.  Mandatory social distancing, excessive handwashing and use of hand sanitizer, and an obsession with purchasing large quantities of toilet paper! But what about the impact COVID19 has had on our pets?  Life has changed for them too!  

Although the risk of dogs being infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 appears to be extremely low,  animals can be infected with the virus that causes COVID19 ( SARS-CoV-2).  The CDC recommends that people treat pets as you would other family members to protect them against the virus.  Util we know more about how the virus could impact pets, I've made some changes to our dogs' daily routines.

Here are 7 Changes I Felt Compelled to Make in my dogs' lives due to the Caronavirus:

No Greeting or Petting

We no longer allow our dogs to greet other dogs, not even those we know.  Even with our dogs, we are practicing social distancing.  Rather than enjoy lengthy conversations in groups with other dog parents in the neighborhood, short chats from at least 6 feet away are all we have now.

It's possible that a person infected with COVID19 is asymptomatic.  If they pet a dog they might transfer germs to the dogs fur or mouth.  The dog's parent may then pet or kiss their dog and come in contact with the infected person's germs.  We just don't want to risk it. 

I can't play with my doggie friends for awhile.  I can only take walks with Mom, Dad and Icy.

For this reason, we don't let our dogs come in contact with other dogs and we don't allow anyone to pet our dogs, including children.  It's not easy to tell a child who really wants to pet Icy or Phoebe that we are all social distancing, including our dogs.  But we need to protect ourselves.

We still walk the dogs, they need the exercise and so do we.  However, we are careful about the times of day we walk them and where we walk them.  We know 7am is the dog walking hour around here, so we try to go out an hour later for our morning walk.  We've also started walking them along a lesser used grassy area instead of along the main path.

When we walk them we are mindful of how crowded the street looks as well.  If there are several people on the sidewalk, we cross to the other side or change our direction.  It's sad that we have to keep our distance from other dogs and people, but better safe than sorry!

No Therapy Dog Visits For Now

If you've been reading our blog for awhile you know that Icy is a Pet Partners therapy dog.  Icy and I love our visits to libraries, schools, nursing homes, and other places to help kids improve their reading skills, teach kids about pet care, and bring comfort and smiles to seniors.  Sadly, we've had to give up our visits for the foreseeable future, until the dangers of in person contact has passed.  And it will pass! I have confidence and faith in that.

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Icy loves being a Therapy Dog. I hope we can get back to our visits soon!

No More Starbucks Puppuccino's  

We no longer bring the dogs to our favorite public places like Starbucks for a Puppuccino or outdoor shopping areas to walk and people watch.  In fact, John and I can only go to a Starbucks drive-through, as their cafe's are take away only. Even the occasional drive-through is a rare treat for us. 

No Parks or Beaches for the Dogs 

No more fun romps at dog parks or beaches with Icy and Phoebe for us.  The parks and beaches have opened but social distancing is still required.  It would be nearly impossible to keep the dogs away from people and other dogs at the beach so we stick to walks around our neighborhood. 

So many times I get Icy out for a walk and she instinctively heads for the car, hoping for a park or beach adventure. Sadly, I steer her towards the street for our familiar neighborhood walk.  Sorry, sweet girl, no adventures for now!

Doggie Day Camp will have to wait 

No more doggie daycamp for the dogs right now.  Icy loves daycamp, it's a great opportunity to socialize with other dogs, and she gets to burn tons of energy - a necessity for any Siberian Husky! PetSmart closed their daycamp facilities for a few weeks, but then re-opened some of them. However, for now I feel safer keeping my dogs away from other dogs and retail store staff.  Am I being too cautious? Perhaps, but my dogs' health and safety is the most important thing to me.

Dog Grooming Is Out For Now

Likewise, no going to the dogs groomer either.  Phoebe will have to look like a hairy monster, or tolerate my amateaur grooming skills!  Awhile back I purchased an Andis dog grooming kit for myself and I've been practicing on Phoebe so I can groom her myself between professional grooming appointments.  Dog grooming is considered one of the "necessary businesses" but for now I think we'll pass. I feel safer keeping my dogs away from other dogs and any grooming staff. 

Mom is no hair stylist!
OK, so my Edward Scissorhands fantasy has come crashing down on me.  Phoebe doesn't exactly look like a show dog after I get through with her, LOL!!

Indoor Playtime

Playing keeps the dogs mentally stimulated and helps fight off boredom. It provides some physical exercise too, so I've busted out the puzzle games and played many rounds of Find the Treat with Icy and Phoebe.  I've also used the time to bone up on basic training like the dogs Emergency Recall Command and some tricks training.

I know the last few months have been unsettling and more than a little painful, but we will socialize and gather again once we get through the toughest days of this awful pandemic.  Our dogs will have play dates, they will run and play in dog parks and at beaches once again. But for now we all have to be patient, cautious and smart.  It's important to be aware and protect ourselves from the spread of this deadly virus.  May God bless you and your pets, I pray you will all stay safe and healthy! 💖

How has the Caronavirus Pandemic effected life with your pets?  Leave us a comment and share how you are coping.

Other posts you may enjoy:

Pet Dental Health Made Easy

Health Benefits of Adding Pumpkin to Your Dog's Diet

How Therapy Dogs Help Children Improve Reading Skills