Keeping Our Furry Friends Healthy

Canine heartworm antigen

Being that up to 164 million people in America own a dog or a cat, I’d say it’s safe to say there are many animal lovers that want to look after their animals and keep them safe. Let’s delve right in to a very common infection that can be contracted by your pet.

Heartworm Although the infection is commonly known as canine heartworm or dog heartworm, it can also infect cats and other types of animals. Although dogs can have more than 30 worms while cats tend to have less than six, how severe heartworm disease is in dogs depends on how many worms it has and just one or two can make a cat very sick.

  1. How does it spread? The mediator for this disease is the mosquito. The mosquito will bite a dog that is already infected and ingest a larvae which then will develop in the infected stage. At this point, if the mosquito bites a healthy dog, the larvae will be deposited into that dog and it will get the infection.
  2. What is it? Heartworm is a type of filaria which is a small thread like worm.
  3. Where does it affect? Generally, the parasite resides in the heart and the lungs and if left untreated can actually lead to death from congestive heart failure.
  4. How can it be treated or even avoided? There is a canine heartworm antigen test kit that can be preformed. Early detection is the key to dealing with this infection so having this test done every year is recommended. You can also give your pet a monthly preventative which compared to the $1000 you would spend on treatment, is well worth the cost.

About two million people in America own horses and while that does not seem like a lot compared to the number of cat and dog owners, it is still just as important to look out for a horse. Let’s look at an example of an infection that horses can get.

Equine Infection Anemia Virus This virus is also known as swap fever. Once a horse is exposed to this virus, he could potentially die within two or three weeks so finding the cure quickly is essential.

  1. How does it spread? EIAV also spreads through blood sucking insects although primarily through the horsefly or deerfly. The virus can also be spread through a contaminated needle or horse bits. It is quite similar to what we know as HIV and can be spread through blood and body secretions just like HIV. Just one fifth of a teaspoon of an infected horse’s blood in the chronic stage has enough virus to infect 10,000 horses.
  2. Can it be treated or prevented? There is an equine infectious anemia virus antibody test kit that can be administered to a horse but unfortunately, once a horse has been infected, even if it survives, it will be a carrier and remain a danger to other horses for the rest of it’s life. No equine infectious anemia virus antibody has yet been found suitable to provide a vaccine for this virus and so the virus still remains incurable. In conclusion, as with all other viruses there is no conclusive equine infectious anemia virus antibody but regular testing can help prevent your other horses from getting sick.