Heartworms in dogs can be a very serious and life threatening parasite. Fortunately there are heartworm preventatives, but it’s also important to know how to tell if your dog is currently suffering from heartworm. Heartworm symptoms in dogs will help determine if your dog is currently suffering from this nasty parasite. In this article we will breakdown the important facts you need to know about the disease and what heartworm symptoms you need to be aware of in your dog.
What is Heartworms and How Do Dogs Get It?
Heartworms are a small parasitic roundworm, which are visible with the human eye and will look like a translucent thread or string. The name can be deceiving, as heartworms usually live in the lung arteries, which leads to the death of lung tissue and possibly internal organ damage.
Dogs are introduced to the disease by being bitten by an infected mosquito. It is then that the dog plays the role of the host to the heartworm, and allows these worms to reach adulthood while living inside a dogs internal organs. While mainly dogs are infected with heartworm, it can also be found in other animals such as cats and ferrets, and sometimes even humans.
The process of being infected and showing symptoms of heartworm can take several months. An infected mosquito will bite the dog, deposit their larvae under the skin, then it travels through the veins of the dog for around four months, which full symptoms and fatal effects may start to appear.
How to Medicate Heartworm in Dogs?
There are plenty of ways to treat heartworms, but it’s also a time sensitive issues. Most treatment is through an oral or topical medicine. While there are many brands on the market place for treatment, the three top brands are Heartgard, Interceptor and Revolution. You can purchase these treatments from your vet directly, or through your local pet specialty stores.
Heartworm Symptoms In Dogs
During the beginning stages, there are no symptoms of heartworms in dogs, which makes it a very difficult illness to spot early. Since the disease takes months to spread throughout the internal organs of a dog, when complications do arise, it is extremely important to take immediate action, as symptoms will start to appear, and the effects of heartworm will quickly multiply as it spreads.
There are many symptoms that your dog may be displaying once infected, and can range from any of the following:
- Fainting spells
- Labored breathing
- Dry hair coat
- Enlarged liver
- Congestive heart failure
- Fluid Retention
- Diarrhea and vomiting
- Rapid weight loss
- Eventual Death if not treated
Should you find your dog has any of the following symptoms, it’s extremely important to visit the vet as soon as possible, as treatment is needed immediately to treat heartworm.
For more information on heartworm in dogs, please view our follow up articles below: