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Heartworms In Dogs- Symptoms That Dog Owners Should Know


Decorative Curiosities Staff
Updated: Jun 20, 2024

Heartworm is a common disease in dogs. It can be prevented with proper treatments. Also, heartworms never spread from dog to dog. Dogs suffer from heartworms after a mosquito bite. If a mosquito bites an infected creature, this disease can occur. The mosquito carries microfilariae from that infected animal. It is also known as baby heartworm. Microfilariae turns into infective larvae. Now, the larvae spread to the dog's heart, blood vessels, and lungs. There, the larva becomes mature. Also, they produce new microfilariae. Don't worry! Heartworms can be treated. However, dogs may show no symptoms until they are seriously infected.

01.Blood In The Cough
01.Blood In The Cough
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If a dog has heartworms, it will cough up blood. The dog also suffers from breathing issues. Not only that, the problems will increase day by day. The blood vessels can't produce the necessary oxygen. Dog owners will also see the dog's chest and ribs protruding. Some canines will also suffer from syncope. This means they can be unconscious due to low blood pressure.

02.Swelling Belly
02.Swelling Belly
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You will see ascites in dogs if they suffer from heartworms. In such a case, fluid is built up in the dog’s peritoneal cavity. That means the heartworm disease is progressing. Symptoms have become more severe. Now, dog hearts can't function properly. It loses the ability to pump blood. Does your dog show this sign? Do a blood test immediately. You will see moderate to severe anemia in your dog. Do urinalyses also. You will see protein loss. At this point, breathing issues become more problematic.

03.Fatigue
03.Fatigue
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Heartworms bring fatigue in dogs. You know your dog's energy level very well as a dog owner. So if they are tired very soon, they are not well. Also, remember, Tiredness can be a sign of any other health issues. But it can be a sign of heartworm disease. Infected dogs can't be active for long. They might not show interest in daily activities. Is your dog older than seven months? Does it become tired very soon? If so, watch it out for additional signs.
04.Weight Loss In Dogs
04.Weight Loss In Dogs
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Dogs suffer from heavy weight loss due to this disease. Their appetite decreases as well. They don't even respond to their favorite treats. They don't show their usual level of excitement. This ends up in severe weight loss. Does your dog show coughing, weight loss, and listlessness? If yes, they can be the early symptoms of microfilariae. Talk to the vet immediately. Do a blood test on your dog.

05.Sometimes No Symptom Is Seen
05.Sometimes No Symptom Is Seen
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As I have said earlier, the early stages of heartworms have no symptoms. Sometimes, the dog may be asymptomatic. That means it never shows any signs of infection. Even, you may not find anything after a lab test. Is your dog highly active? Does it have any underlying health issues? Is your dog older than other dogs? If yes, Science can be more pronounced in the early stages. If the larvae have been living in the pet’s body for the past 6 months, You can see heartworm symptoms appearing.

06.Continuous Coughing
06.Continuous Coughing
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Infected dogs will suffer from continuous coughing. It may not be strong. But it is dry and persistent. Even small exercises and short walks can make them breathe heavily. That is because the parasites have infected its lungs. Generally, the heartworm microfilariae infects the liver and the lungs. They damage lung tissues. That is why the dog continues to cough.

07.Abnormal Lung And Heart Sound
07.Abnormal Lung And Heart Sound
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A vet often discovers abnormal lung and heart sounds in an infected dog. They are additional to the physical signs. At this stage, dogs may suffer from chronic heart failure. It occurs specifically on the right side. You will also discover a rapid heartbeat. You will also see elevated blood pressure in the latter stages.

08.Fatty Liver
08.Fatty Liver
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Once the disease progresses, the liver of the dog gets larger and fatty. The microfilariae blocks the blood vessels. That is why blood vessels can't carry the necessary oxygen to the cell. This prevents the natural blood flow. It results in liver damage. As a result, other diseases can occur soon. Such as jaundice, cirrhosis, anemia, and weakness. The vet may detect kidney damage in addition to liver damage. On the other hand, additional harmful toxins build up in the dog’s body.

09.Dark-Colored Urine And Pale Gums
09.Dark-Colored Urine And Pale Gums
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This is the final stage of heartworm disease. Multiple organ failure can cause these two signs. The dog will suffer canine caval syndrome at this stage. This is quite a fatal condition. It indicates a collapsed cardiovascular system in dogs. At this stage, the dog can hardly breathe. The microfilariae blocks the main arteries. That is why the infected dog develops pale gums. The Kidneys are also damaged. So the dog can pass dark-colored urine. Other body organs in dogs will also start failing.

10.Collapsing Is The Last Sign
10.Collapsing Is The Last Sign
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If the disease becomes serious, the dog can collapse anytime. This indicates a long-term infection. Heartworms survive in a dog's body for more than seven years. The more heartworms in a dog's body, the more serious the disease is. Experts say, “ This disease is a burden to dogs”. It can result in multiple organ failure. So, without treatment, the dog collapses to death.