What are the Signs of Heartworm in Dogs in Centennial, CO?
What are the Signs of Heartworm in Dogs in Centennial, CO?
A heartworm infection is a very serious condition in both dogs and cats. Unfortunately, heartworm is also a fairly common problem within the United States. The good news is that heartworm infection is also a very preventable disease, and it is also very treatable when caught early on.
Still, it is still a good idea for dog owners to know the signs of heartworm in dogs. These signs include some subtle symptoms like lethargy, coughing, and a reduced appetite. However, some more serious and obvious symptoms as well, these severe symptoms include a distended abdomen, weight loss, labored breathing, and even fainting.
In this article, we will describe all the symptoms that are commonly seen in dogs with a heartworm infection. In addition to this, we will also explain what heartworms are and how they can be prevented and treated. Let’s get into it!
What is Heartworm?
Heartworms are a parasite that lives in an animal’s cardiovascular system. These parasites are passed to pets like dogs and cats through mosquito bites. Most of the time early heartworm infections show little to no symptoms, and the symptoms gradually worsen as the infection gets more severe.
The Signs of Heartworm in Dogs
There are many symptoms that are commonly associated with heartworm in dogs. Unfortunately, many of these symptoms do not show up in dogs until the infection is severe. These symptoms that are seen in severe heartworm infections in dogs include weight loss, an enlarged abdomen, labored breathing, and fainting.
Luckily, there are some early symptoms of heartworm infections that can be seen in dogs as well. These symptoms include things like coughing, lethargy, and a reduced appetite. Here are all the signs of heartworm in dogs.
Lethargy is possibly one of the first symptoms that your dog will display, and it is often one of the only symptoms that dogs with an early heartworm infection will exhibit. A lethargic dog will appear to be weak and uncharacteristically tired. This is even if the dog hasn’t done any exercising.
Coughing is another common sign of a heartworm infection in dogs. This coughing is caused by irritation that the heartworms cause when they are in and around the lungs. Coughing is occasionally seen in early heartworm infections, but it is much more common as a symptom in more severe cases.
A Reduced Appetite
A reduced appetite is another fairly common sign of heartworm, and this is a symptom that could occur in both mild and severe heartworm infections. A reduced appetite involves a dog not eating nearly as much as they used to, and in some severe cases they may stop eating altogether.
When a dog has stopped eating or is eating less than usual, then they are likely to lose weight as well. As a result, weight loss is also a fairly-common sign of a heartworm. This is true even in stray dogs, and if you see a very skinny dog with a swollen abdomen then they likely have a fairly severe heartworm infection.
An Enlarged Abdomen
An enlarged abdomen is possibly the most common sign of a very severe heartworm infection in dogs. This enlarged abdomen is caused by a buildup of fluid in the dog’s abdomen, which occurs in a dog’s body as an immune response to the heartworms.
Usually dogs with an enlarged abdomen due to a heartworm infection are also very thin. As a result, they may appear to have a pot belly. This enlarged abdomen is usually hard to the touch as well. Considering that an enlarged abdomen is normally a sign of a very severe heartworm infection, you should take your dog to the vet immediately if you notice this symptom.
Labored breathing is also a fairly common sign of a moderate to severe heartworm infection in dogs. This labored breathing occurs as a result of the heartworms being in the lungs, which makes breathing difficult. Like an enlarged abdomen and fainting, labored breathing is generally the sign of a medical emergency, and you should take a dog to the vet immediately if they are exhibiting this symptom.
Fainting and Collapsing
Fainting and collapsing are among the most severe signs of heartworm in dogs. This symptom does not usually occur until the heartworm infection has become very severe. This symptom is just as it sounds, and it involves a dog fainting or collapsing to the ground. This is a sign of a medical emergency in dogs, and it warrants an immediate trip to the emergency vet.
How Can You Prevent Heartworms in Dogs?
Luckily, this life threatening condition is completely preventable in both dogs and cats. There is a heartworm prevention medication that is widely available to pet owners, and they are known to be incredibly effective as well.
How is Heartworm Diagnosed in Dogs?
Heartworm is usually diagnosed by a vet through a blood test. However, severe cases of heartworm infection can sometimes be treated by a vet looking at a dog’s symptoms alone.
Is Heartworm Treatable?
Yes, heartworm is treatable in dogs. However, the earlier that a heartworm infection is detected in dogs the easier they tend to be to treat. Heartworm is usually treated with a dewormer, and in some cases dogs may need additional treatment to make them more comfortable during their treatment as well. In addition to this, your dog will likely not be able to do any exercising during their treatment. This will ensure that your dog makes a full and safe recovery.
In very severe cases of heartworm in dogs surgery may be necessary. This surgery involves physically removing the heartworms from a dog’s body. However, the prognosis for dogs that have this severe of a heartworm infection is dramatically worse than those with a very early heartworm infection.
If you have any questions regarding heartworm or suspect your dog has them, call our veterinarian at (303) 850-9393 or Make an Appointment online!