Heartworm disease is what is called a vector borne disease. What this means is that a vector, in this case a mosquito, transmits or gives the disease to the animal through a blood meal.
When the mosquito is feeding on your dog or cats’ blood, they are simultaneously injecting an immature form of heartworm! It is caused by the nematode (small worm) parasite, Dirofilaria immitus. We abbreviate their name as D. immitus.
When these immature heartworms, or larvae enter the body they start to grow and mature. Depending on whether they enter a dog or cat, as to when the problems will start to occur.
Dogs are what is called the ‘definitive or natural’ host for heartworms, cats on the other hand are known as ‘aberrant’ hosts. Because of this, the disease behaves very differently in each of these host species.
Dogs and Heartworm Disease
Let’s first look at heartworm disease in dogs, the natural host. All canid species can become infected with heartworm disease, that means not only the neighborhood dogs, but the foxes, coyotes and wolves (yikes!). If you have mosquitos in your yard, you have heartworm disease!
We're so excited to start 2019 with big plans for the year. Thank you for joining us since we launched in August. We hope the information we're providing is helping you and your family live happier, healthier lives.
What we accomplished in 2018
2018 was a learning year for IMFPP. We launched the website in August and since then have been working hard at creating weekly blog posts as well as creating the disease pages.
Our weekly blog post has been a place of pride for us. We're working hard to ensure it is released every Thursday morning and has the highest quality information. We've had some amazing contributing authors and plan to keep bringing you the best we can.
Currently the pages that have the most information are the urinary, endocrine, liver, hematology, and immunology. These pages are not 100% complete, but most of the basics are there. As we continue to grow, these pages will continue to be fleshed out.
We're excited to have grown our newsletter list to over 100 subscribers! Everyone on our list got a copy of our Weekly Treatment Tracker and we've heard great feedback on it. Thank you so much to everyone that's joined us so far. If you'd like to join here's the link: Subscribe Now!
In the background we've been working on the nitty-gritty details to set up our business for the growth we have planned in the future.
Plans for 2019
Who can get IMTP?
Primary IMTP is more commonly seen in middle aged female dogs, especially Cocker Spaniels, German Shepherds, Poodles, and Old English Sheepdogs. Unfortunately, although it is more common in these breeds, it can happen at any age, any sex, and any breed.
Secondary IMTP can occur in any pet as there is a secondary condition like infection, cancer, or sepsis causing the IMTP.
What is IMTP?
Who can get IMHA?
The bad news? Any breed can be diagnosed at any age. Both dogs and cats can be diagnosed with IMHA. Cats are definitely not as common, but they can still get it.
Some risk factors reported include:
What is IMHA?
Immune Mediated Hemolytic Anemia (IMHA) is also known as Auto-Immune Hemolytic Anemia (AIHA). Both names are for the same disease. It is when the body’s immune system sees erythrocytes, or red blood cells (RBCs), as a foreign invader needing to be destroyed. The immune system no longer recognizes the RBC’s as belonging to the animal and starts breaking down the cells. This causes severe anemia, or low red blood cell counts.
As you can imagine RBC’s are essential for life. They are important for the body as they carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. That is why when a patient is anemic, they are weak and have exercise intolerance because the cells in the body are not getting the oxygen needed to perform their tasks. The term for decreased oxygen in the blood is hypoxemia.
In dogs and cats we check the packed cell volume, or PCV, to tell us how anemic the patient is. Normal for dogs and cats is typically between 35%-55% and 25%-45% respectively. What this means is of the blood circulating in the body, how much is RBC’s and how much is fluid. The body likes to have a normal percentage of RBC’s and fluid concentrations.
To know what the PCV is, a small blood sample is place into tubes and spun down with a centrifuge. This can take anywhere from 8-12 minutes. After the sample has been centrifuged the blood has separated into solids (blood cells: predominantly RBC's) and the liquid, plasma, portion of the blood. See the pictures below.
We're looking for pet parents to share their insight on these immune mediated blood disorders:
Our goal is to create a book for owners of pets diagnosed with these diseases to help navigate diagnosis, treatment, and living with the disease.
We created a survey and would appreciate your input. Please follow the link below and be part of creating a road map for pet parents.
If you are a veterinary professional and would like to give us feedback, please go to this link for a survey geared more toward care givers.
This website is NOT a substitute for veterinary care with a veterinarian. We recommend you follow the advice and treatment plan as prescribed by your veterinarian, and only after discussing anything found on this website with your veterinarian, with their approval, implementing advice found here.
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