Recognizing Heartworm Disease

Heartworm disease is caused by foot-long worms that reside in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels and is incredibly serious and potentially fatal. Because heartworms can have such a detrimental impact on an animal’s body, it’s extremely important to be aware of the warning signs and symptoms that can occur.

Heartworm Signs & Symptoms in Dogs

  • Mild & persistent cough
  • Reluctance to exercise
  • Fatigue after moderate activity
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss

As disease progresses…

  • Heart failure
  • Appearance of swollen belly due to excess fluids
  • Sudden onset of:
    • Labored breathing
    • Pale gums
    • Dark, bloody or coffee-colored urine

Heartworm Signs & Symptoms in Cats

  • Coughing
  • Asthma-like attacks
  • Periodic vomiting
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Occasional:
    • Trouble walking
    • Fainting or seizures
    • Swollen belly due to excess fluids

As a pet parent, you should always make a point to bring your pet to routine vet checkups to ensure it is heartworm negative. Additionally, keeping your pet on a heartworm preventative medication helps to decrease it’s risk of contracting the disease. That being said, should you begin to notice any of the above signs and symptoms in your pet, contact your veterinarian immediately.

If your pet is diagnosed with heartworm disease, be sure to administer treatment immediately, restrict exercise, and monitor its progress. Veterinary check-ins should be frequent and retests should be performed as symptoms subside to ensure the disease has been eliminated.

Recent Posts