Heartworm can be a deadly disease if left untreated in dogs. These parasites are carried by mosquitoes and enter dog’s bloodstream through the bites that these insects leave. The larvae can take months to grow to full size, but once they do they can threaten your dog’s life. While the first step in treating heartworm should always be prevention, there are some signs and symptoms that will let you know that something may be wrong with your pup. As soon as you see these you should take your dog to the vet and have tests run so that your dog can receive the treatment they need before it is too late. Here are 6 signs that your dog may be infected with heartworms.
1. A soft and dry cough
Heartworms infect the lungs of a dog. This is where adult heartworms actually take hold, inside of the veins, and can affect the way that your dog breaths. Worms can end up twisted together and actually block blood flow to the lungs which makes it difficult for oxygen to enter the bloodstream.
2. Weight Loss or Anorexia
As activities become more difficult to do, because there is less oxygen entering the bloodstream due to the heartworms, tasks as simple as eating can become too exhausting for dogs. If they are not eating, or having difficulty getting a full meal down, they may have heartworms.
3. Inactivity & Lethargy
If your pet suddenly becomes inactive and lethargic, especially if they were once active and happy to go on long walks and play, then this could be a sign of heartworm. Dogs with heartworm struggle to be active to the point where they can even find eating a draining task.
4. Difficulty Breathing
Heartworms, for the most part, live in the veins of the lungs and inside the heart. Both of these are crucial for proper breathing, and so dogs may have difficulty breathing or end up breathing rapidly in an attempt to get more oxygen into their bloodstream.
5. Bulging Chest
This can be caused both by weight loss, giving the chest a bulging appearance because the areas around it lose their fat stores, or because of fluid build up because of the parasite. If the ribs take on a barrel-like appearance it is a good indication that there is something wrong and your dog needs medical attention.
As mentioned above, heartworms can end up tangling together and actually block blood flow from the lungs to the heart or inside the heart. If your dog collapses you should always take them to see a vet, but if they have been experiencing any of the symptoms above the cause may be heartworm, and if left untreated after a collapse death could follow within days.
A simple once a month medication can save your beloved pooch from such a devastating disease.
As spring and summer draw nearer and the threat of ticks increases, so does the threat of so many illnesses that they carry. Ticks can infect dogs with Lyme disease, ehrlichiosis, anaplasmosis, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Keeping ticks at bay, using tick control products, and inspecting your dog for ticks after playing outside are all incredibly important parts of keeping them happy and healthy.
A simple once every 12 weeks oral chew can prevent your pet from getting fleas and ticks. Ask your veterinarian about such medications.