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Heartworm Symptoms in Dogs

Heartworm Symptoms in Dogs

Do You See a Heartworm Symptom in your Dog?

Heartworms are a serious problem in dogs. If a vet diagnoses your dog with heartworms, your dog’s life could be in danger. If a person notices even one heartworm symptom in their dog, they may be able to save their life. One of the biggest symptoms that a dog is suffering from heartworms is coughing.

The dog may have a soft and dry cough that is persistent. The dog may also have trouble breathing. Fluid can build up around the lungs causing the dog to have rapid breaths or the inability to breathe. A dog may also have a bulging chest. The ribs may seem to stick up.

Another heartworm symptom is it can also make the dog lethargic. They may not want to play or interact with their owners. They may have trouble moving around and would rather sit in one place they get up. Dogs that have kennels will tend to want to stay in the kennel all the time. Another symptom is loss of appetite and weight loss.

Another Heartworm Symptom

Some other heart-worm symptoms include seizures, blindness, nosebleeds, and an increase in blood pressure. A dog with heartworms may suddenly collapse for which seems like no apparent reason. If this happens the dog usually dies within a couple of days.

A dog can get heartworms if an infested mosquito bites them.  This disease affects dogs in all 50 states . There is a monthly pill one can give dogs, as well as topical ointments to help protect them from this deadly parasite.

Diagnosing Heartworms

A veterinarian can give a dog an ELISA test, or SNAP test, to determine if heartworms are present in the dog’s body. A heart worm blood test can also detect antigens that heartworms produce. Dogs with positive heartworm test will receive treatment with Immiticide. This product is arsenic-based and comes only in the form of an injection. It may take two or three shots in order to kill the heartworms.

A dog can also get x rays and blood work to determine the extent of the disease, and to see how many injections are appropriate.  There may be some side effects from this heartworm medication. A person should watch for changes in their dog while they are undergoing heart-worm treatment.

Also, your dog should follow a special diet, while the dog is undergoing heartworm treatment. Even if the treatment is effective the dog is still at the risk for heartworms in the future. Heartworm preventative medications will help keep these parasites at bay.

There are some alarming statistics when it comes to dogs and heartworms. The heartworm can live in dogs for up to seven years. One hundred percent of dogs that are bitten by an infected mosquito become infected with heartworm. The average worm is 10 inches in length in the dog when it reaches adulthood. There are over 70 different types of mosquitoes that can spread this disease.

If the dog is infected with heartworms, they will likely have a number of health ailments. The heartworms will clog the heart and the blood vessels that are surrounding the heart . The blood will not be able to get to other parts of the body. Blood will not get to the major organs including the lungs, liver, and kidney. This will lead to the death of the dog. If heartworm is left untreated the dog will get worse and worse. The legs may also swell up making it difficult for the dog to walk.

A Heartworm Symptom is a Warning Sign

There are several warning signs that the dog may have heartworm disease. When a dog has a sudden loss of appetite, a dry cough, shortness of breath, and loss of stamina and energy a person should take their dog to the vet right away.

If you can catch the heartworms early enough, there is a better chance of the dog beating this disease. A dog owner should also use preventative medications to keep mosquitoes from biting your dog. There is also heartworm medication that can be given to a dog to prevent this disease.

The best way to treat heartworm is to prevent it from infecting the dog. Heartworm is responsible for many canine deaths each year, and a pet owner should be diligent about heart-worm prevention and heart-worm detection.


(The image above is a derivative of Austin Community College,; CC BY-SA.)

Signs of Heartworms in Dogs