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7 Warning Signs That Your Dog Has Heartworms

Veterinaire Pet Care of Jersey City provides common signs for when a dog has heartworms

Heartworm disease in dogs is a silent killer that is often overlooked until it’s too late. This preventable condition starts with a mosquito bite and ends with either a long, expensive treatment or death. Symptoms may not appear until the worm reaches maturity (usually after around 6 months). Symptoms of a heartworm infection can take months to appear. Here are some of the common signs that a dog has heartworms.

Signs of Heartworms in a Dog

  • A soft, dry cough
    The parasites make their way to the lungs and start multiplying in the lungs and surrounding veins. Coughing may be most noticeable after exercise and may end with fainting. Even light exercise can cause fainting.
  • Inactivity or lethargy
    Your pet suddenly seems tired more often, doesn’t want to go outside, or avoids all physical activity. Dogs with heartworm infection are weakened and find it difficult to be active even when performing small tasks.
  • Weight loss or anorexia
    Even minor physical activities, such as eating, can become difficult and exhausting chores.
  • Rapid or difficult breathing
    Along with coughing, breathing problems occur when the worms inhabit the lungs and surrounding veins. Fluid can also build around the blood vessels in the lungs, making it difficult for the lungs to oxygenate the blood.
  • Bulging chest
    The ribs may seem to protrude, and the chest has a bulging appearance as a result of adult heartworm infection. This symptom can result from weight loss and anorexia caused by heartworms. This can also be caused by fluid buildup in response to the parasite’s presence.
  • Allergic reaction
    Although allergic reaction is more common in cats, it is possible for dogs to show symptoms similar to an allergic reaction or asthmatic symptoms in response to the heartworms or their offspring.
  • Collapse
    Large numbers of heartworms invade the heart and cause blockage of blood flow (known as caval or vena cava syndrome). Collapse is usually accompanied by shock and red blood cell destruction. Death can follow within days.
  • Other symptoms are possible, too:
    • Nosebleeds
    • Secondary pneumonia
    • Increased blood pressure
    • Excessive sleeping
    • Seizures
    • Blindness
    • Lameness
  • Seizures, lameness and blindness occur when the parasites get lost and end up in places other than the heart or lungs. They can end up in the brain or eyes, although this is rare.

    Some of the symptoms above can also be signs of other conditions, which makes it more difficult to detect heartworm infection. There are other tools used by vets to detect the condition more accurately. If you believe your dog is experiencing any of the signs above then don't hesitate to call and set up an appointment.

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Veterinaire Pet Care understands your pet is a beloved member of your family, and strives to improve the quality of life for every pet we treat. We proudly offer the highest levels of care along with the very latest in medical advances for your family pet. We at Veterinaire Pet Care care about your pets the same way you do, and want to do everything we can to assist you. Please contact us if you have any questions, we're always glad to help!

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Dr. Kwon and the whole staff were very kind and incredibly helpful in helping me with my cat at a stressful moment. Dr. Kwon explained everything really well and did not perform unnecessary tests and my cat loved her! I was able to get... Read More

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I took my pup in for his annual physical and vaccinations. He's a generally good boy, but when he's nervous he's hard to keep still because he's so strong. The staff was so patient and caring with him! They completely understood and... Read More

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First time visitor with my cat. They were able to set me up with an appointment within a week. Staff was lovely and so was the vet, great experience. This will definitely be my go to vet for a long time... Read More

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