Top Signs That Your Dog May Have Heartworms

Pet Health

If you are a dog owner, you need to be aware of potential health problems that your pet may have. A vital issue to keep in mind is the presence of heartworms. Heartworm disease can cause serious health complications and can be fatal. The condition is more prevalent in warmer regions. However, all dog owners need to be aware of the risks associated with heartworms. It helps to know the warning signs, realizing that prevention or early detection can help to save your dog’s life. Following are some signs to look out for.

Dry, Unproductive Cough

A dry cough is one of the first signs that your dog may have heartworms. As the parasites continue to make their way through the lungs, it can lead to persistent coughing. The coughing often becomes especially apparent after exercise. In some cases, coughing may be followed by fainting. If this happens, you need to take your dog to the vet for testing immediately.

Tiredness or Inactivity

If your dog is unusually tired or inactive, it may point to a heartworm problem. If you notice that your dog is not as energetic or playful as usual, you should take your pet to the vet. A heartworm infection will make it difficult for the dog to perform even simple activities. When combined with coughing, unusual fatigue should not be ignored.

Sudden Weight Loss

Weight loss and lack of appetite can be a sign that your dog has heartworms. This usually happens in the advanced stages of the disease. The dog may find it difficult to eat or do anything that requires energy. Eating becomes a difficult task for the tired dog, which inevitably results in weight loss. You need to take your pet to the vet immediately to determine the cause.

Bulging or Distended Chest

A sudden drop in the dog’s weight can lead to a swollen or bulging chest. Fluid buildup in the chest due to the infection can exacerbate the condition. A distended chest usually points to an adult heartworm infection. A visit to the vet is vital.

Difficulty Breathing

When the heartworms start to invade the lungs and the surrounding veins, the dog may experience difficulty breathing. Severe breathing problems are due to fluid buildup caused by parasites in the lungs and blood vessels. This makes it difficult for the blood to be oxygenated. Shallow or focused breathing calls for an immediate visit to the vet.

Collapsing or Fainting

During the late stages of heartworm infection, the dog might collapse or faint. This occurs due to the large number of heartworms invading the heart, causing the blood to stop flowing. Collapsing can occur along with shock and destruction of red blood cells. This signifies that the disease has progressed to a point where death may occur within a few days.

There are several treatment options for heartworm. Knowing the risks and being able to identify signs of infection will help with early detection. It is essential to understand that the disease can progress slowly. Symptoms may not be visible for a couple of months. Preventative medication helps, but it is vital to visit the vet even if there is a slight chance of getting heartworms.

To know more about heartworms, visit Chaparral Veterinary Medical Center at our office in Cave Creek, Arizona. You can also call 480-595-8600 to book an appointment today.