The Basics of Treating Heartworms and Fleas in Dogs

Dogs Outside

Fleas and heartworms are two of the most common health issues faced by millions of dogs each year. These nasty little critters can cause some major health issues in your dog including heart failure, tapeworms, and a whole host of various problematic symptoms.

Many dog owners are curious as to how they can prevent their dogs from getting fleas or heartworms. That’s why we’ve made this guide, full of the latest treatment options, prevention tips, and information about identifying symptoms.

Heartworms in Dogs

Dogs become infected with heartworms from infected mosquitoes. Because mosquitoes are so prevalent all over the United States, heartworm disease is a serious issue across all major regions.

Since dogs are considered a natural host for roundworms/heartworms, they can develop life-threatening complications quite easily. Keep on reading to find out how to tell if your dog has heartworm disease and details about the latest treatment options.

How to Tell If Your Dog Has Heartworms

Heartworm disease can be subcategorized into three different stages: early, middle, and advanced. Early-stage heartworm disease is defined by the following symptoms:

●  Dry, irregular cough that’s continuous. 

●  Loss of interest in walks, going outside, etc. 

●  Weight loss is not attributed to other issues. 

Middle-stage heartworm disease typically presents the following symptom types (in addition to those listed above): 

●  Breathing that’s very rough/labored. 

●  Fluid buildup in the abdomen that causes swelling. 

Late-stage heartworm disease is the most severe form of the disease, and causes the following issues: 

●  The liver becomes enlarged. 

●  The lungs become filled with fluid and make irregular noises (when 

●  The heart develops complications (e.g. murmurs). 

●  Numerous other possible complications.

Unfortunately, the prognosis for advanced heartworm disease is usually never good. Because dogs are a natural host for heartworms, once the disease reaches this point there’s not much that can be done to remove the massive amount of worms present in the dog. Treatment options at this point are more focused on making the dog comfortable and managing pain/symptoms.

Heartworm Treatment Options 

Treating heartworm disease in your dog before the worms get the chance to spread throughout your dog’s entire body is critical to keeping your dog healthy. This is commonly done using various types of oral medications, some of which are multi-symptom/illness medicine. The benefits of using this type of treatment are numerous.

For example, preventing fleas and heartworms with Sentinel for dogs is a multi-illness treatment option utilized by many vets. Using this type of treatment ensures that all of the worms will be killed (as well as their offspring/eggs), and also ensures that your dog has the most protection possible for contracting the disease (from fleas).

Diagnosing, Treating, and Managing Fleas in Dogs

Fleas are one of the most common issues faced by dogs (and their owners). These jumping pests (they can’t fly) are typically contracted by a dog coming into contact with an infected animal or environment. 
While most people know that fleas cause itching, what they often don’t know is that fleas can carry very serious diseases (such as heartworm disease). This is why 
a lot of veterinarian clinics utilize dual-treatment medications that treat/prevent both heartworms and fleas at the same time.

How to Diagnose Fleas

Nearly all dogs itch, and most of them usually don’t have fleas. Relying on itching as the main identifier for fleas simply isn’t realistic. The best way to tell if a dog has fleas is to identify the following symptoms:

●  Excessive itching 

●  Redness and unusual hair loss 

●  Presence of flea feces 

●  Gums that are pale 

Treatment Options for Fleas

After you’ve determined that your dog has fleas, it’s important to schedule an appointment with your vet (to discuss treatment options). There are numerous types of treatments out there, and deciding which one is best for your dog should be left to your vet. Examples of flea treatments include: 

● Anti-flea oral medications/chewable tablets.
● Spray-on/topical anti-flea solutions.

● Collars designed to prevent fleas.

● Anti-flea shampoo products and sprays. 

Natural Treatment Options 

Many dog owners don’t like using prescription medications on their dogs because they can sometimes cause harsh reactions. Essential oils are one of the more common natural treatments used to prevent fleas. Apple cider vinegar, lemons, and rosemary are some of the other popular treatment/prevention methods.

Before using any natural treatment for fleas, you should consult with your dog’s vet regarding any possible complications/interactions the oil(s) might cause. Just because something is natural doesn’t mean that it won’t cause a reaction with your dog.