Does Your Shih Tzu Suffer From Heartworms?

Published: 05th October 2006
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Does Your Shih Tzu Suffer From Heartworms?



Dog heartworm is a common disease among canines in the United States. Discovered in 1856, the worms mainly live in your dog's heart and major blood vessels.



The worms, especially on worst cases, seriously impair the heart's operations. Worse, they could also clog your Shih Tzu's blood vessels. These infections result in loss of body weight, chronic cough, dropsy, shortness of breath, chronic heart failure, vision disturbances, and ultimately, death.



Since the symptoms of heartworm disease vary among dogs, it would be best that a veterinarian check your Shih Tzu to evaluate a final analysis. Early treatment is vital.



Most dogs show visible symptoms only when the disease has reached the point where it would be almost improbable to be cured by treatment. To help you see early symptoms and to hopefully save your Shih Tzu, look out for these signs:



- Shih Tzu that has been quite active usually tend to be tired easily.



- Shih Tzu that would have been otherwise healthy usually gasp for breath.



- Coughing of your Shih Tzu has suddenly become a common occurrence.



- In some rare instances, the Shih Tzu experiences convulsions, jaundice, and problems in the vision.



- Before it dies, the Shih Tzu experiences emaciation, which often precedes death.



Who gets infected by the heartworm infection?



Previously, it was thought that only dogs that were long-haired were more resistant to heartworms because of the high difficulty of mosquitoes (which bring the worms) to penetrate through the Shih Tzu hair. Since then, it has been proven that this was not true.



Mosquitoes even have a hard time penetrating through short-haired dogs. Actually, mosquitoes feed on the abdominal region of the Shih Tzu and other dogs. That is why both long-haired and short-haired dogs are susceptible to an infection, since both types have little hair on this region. Some mosquitoes also feed on the muzzle area or the ears where the Shih Tzu's hair is quite matted down.



Can heartworm infection be treated?



Heartworm infection can be treated through chemical therapy if diagnosed early. Most of the chemical treatments kill the worms over some period of time. Killing all the worms in one swoop is no better: If all the heartworms were killed in just one treatment, the dead bodies would deposit in the lungs and kill the Shih Tzu.



Remember also that the chemicals used in treating the worms are also as dangerous to your Shih Tzu as the worms. That is why treating the disease using chemical therapy should be used with utmost care and should be handled by a veterinarian.



There are also cases when surgery is needed. In most cases, this can be a feasible option. Consult with the veterinarian about surgical correction or any other method that can cure the infection.



There are also drugs that could prevent your Shih Tzu from getting heartworms. These drugs attack the parasite in its early stages and stop the worms from being full-blown adults later. This doesn't mean that your Shih Tzu would be free from infection. This only means that dogs can still get infected during the season of mosquitoes and yet remain unscathed of heartworms.



Preventative medication using drugs, on the other hand, can cause serious complications if your Shih Tzu already has heartworm infections in a higher level. That is why the use of drugs should be under the supervision of veterinarians. Taking drugs are also combined with regular blood tests. This has shown to be quite effective in saving many dogs with heartworm infection.



In order for your Shih Tzu to avoid heartworm infection, protect your pet from mosquito bites especially if there is a high mosquito population in your area or if it is mosquito season. You might want to screen the sleeping quarters of your Shih Tzu to avoid repeated bites. Repellent sprays can also be used, but these only have limited effects.



You might also want to consult your vet for preventive medication. In addition, you might want regular blood tests on your Shih Tzu to assess early symptoms of infection. This is quite tricky, especially if the symptoms of heartworm infection could not be seen immediately.



In short, your Shih Tzu which looked healthy may be having early symptoms of heartworm infection. It would be best that you have your vet check him for the disease.



Author: Connie Limon. I raise Shih Tzu puppies from top champion bloodlines for pets and show in many different colors. We have the small AKC standards, imperials and teacups at reasonable prices. We offer you educational material, dog bows and dog clothes. Visit us online at: http://www.stainglassshihtzus.com and sign up for our FREE newsletter to receive valuable discounts.



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