FREE SHIPPING ON ORDERS $99+

What You Need to Know About Heartworm Symptoms in Dogs

May 05, 2021 2 min read

What You Need to Know About Heartworm Symptoms in Dogs

Heartworm can instill fear in the heart of any dog owner. The best way to get rid of that fear is to equip yourself with knowledge. Learn all about heartworm, its symptoms in dogs, and how you can prevent them below.

What is Heartworm Disease?

Heartworm disease is caused by dirofilaria immitis, a parasitic roundworm. It’s spread through the bite of a mosquito infected with heartworm larvae—which means it can’t be passed from dog to dog or dog to human.

When a dog is bitten by an infected mosquito, the larvae travel through the dog’s body to the heart and lung vessels.

It typically takes six months for the larvae to mature. Mature heartworms can reproduce and multiply within the heart and lungs.

If your infected dog isn’t protected against heartworm and is left untreated, heartworm disease can become serious. However, it is a preventable condition.

What Are Heartworm Symptoms in Dogs?

Symptoms usually do not appear until the worm reaches maturity, which means that there can be a six-month delay between your dog getting infected and showing signs of heartworm.

Common heartworm symptoms include:

  • A dry, persistent cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fainting, especially after exercise
  • A protruding chest, which is a fluid buildup in response to parasites in the lungs
  • Congestive heart failure and death in severe, untreated cases

Because heartworms target and reproduce in the heart and lungs, the most common canine heartworm symptoms involve respiratory and cardiovascular issues.

Other less common symptoms include blindness, seizures, and lameness. These can occur when heartworm larvae don’t make it to the lungs or heart. Instead, they can get stuck in the eye, brain, or leg artery.

How Can You Prevent & Treat Heartworms?

Dogs are an easy host for heartworms. Because it’s spread by mosquitos, it’s not a disease restricted to one particular location. While infected mosquitos are mostly found in tropical and subtropical climates, cases are reported in every state.

That’s why heartworm prevention is so important. The American Heartworm Society supports the “Think 12” approach. This approach recommends that dog owners should get their pet tested for heartworms once every 12 months and give their pet preventative medication every month of the year.

Because heartworm symptoms in dogs don’t always show up until months after infection, early prevention and detection are vital. Annual heartworm tests are routine blood samples at your vet.

If the test is positive, there are a variety of treatment options. In many cases, the heartworms can be killed with a medication. However, in severe cases, surgery may be necessary. Dogs must get tested again 6 months after completing treatment to ensure that all parasites are gone.

Take Care of Your Dog’s Heart

A healthy diet and exercise aren’t the only things involved in caring for your dog’s heart health. Make sure you follow Think 12. Get your dog tested for heartworm annually and give him preventative medication monthly.

Don’t forget to treat your dog after any vet visit or medication! Bully sticks are a natural, healthy treat alternative that your dog is sure to love.


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in BBS Blog

Dog Grooming at Home: Tips to Make It Easier
Dog Grooming at Home: Tips to Make It Easier

November 08, 2022 8 min read

Grooming your dog at home can save you significant time and money in the long run. But grooming a dog at home can sometimes be a nerve-wracking experience for both dogs and humans alike, leading many pet parents to take their dogs to professional groomers instead. If you’ve been outsourcing your dog grooming to others, here are tips for getting both yourself and your dog comfortable with brushing, bathing, and nail trimming at home (with the help of lots of praise and treats for dogs).
dog with toys and treats
How to Exercise Your Dog in Winter

October 17, 2022 3 min read

The cold, harsh winter weather can make getting outside unpleasant and even unsafe for you and your dog. However, it’s still important to consistently exercise them so they are getting enough activity and burning off all the best treats for big dogs they’ve been eating. Here are eight ideas for exercising your dog during winter:
How to Stop Your Dog from Digging
How to Stop Your Dog from Digging

October 15, 2022 8 min read

Digging is a natural behavior in dogs, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating when your pup turns your well-maintained yard into a series of holes. To stop your dog from digging, you first need to pinpoint the reason(s) why they are digging, and then take practical steps to prevent it from happening again. Let’s delve into the ultimate guide to stop your dog from digging: