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Heartworm Symptoms in Dogs

Heartworm Symptoms in Dogs

There's no organ in our bodies that is as essential to life quite like our hearts, and this is true for our pets the same way it is for us humans. Any type of risk to our cardiac health will be given the very highest level of priority, because hear failure poses a serious risk to life. We also care about our pets the same way we do ourselves and other loved family members, so if a dog has heartworms it's immediately a big deal. Being able to identify heartworm symptoms in dogs is important, and especially so with the fact that so many times the infestation isn't detected early enough to prevent major damage.

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Adding to the seriousness of it all is the fact that heartworm infestations are common, and there’s really very little that dog owners can do to ‘keep them safe’ from exposure to the parasites – unless you literally keep them indoors all the time. Your best defence is to be vigilant in looking for heartworm symptoms in dogs. An even better approach is always to use a heartworm prevention medication for dogs on an ongoing basis to ensure they’re protected against them.

That really is your best option, and we’ll make it easy for you by introducing you to a pair of these good dog heartworm medications here. As is the case with any of the different health conditions for dogs, it’s always best to see your veterinarian to get an expert’s opinion. They will provide you with the best course of action for your dog based on their condition.

What Causes Heartworm in Dogs?

This is where and why a heartworm infestation is something that’s so difficult to prevent your dog from at least being exposed to it? The infection is transmitted via a mosquito bite, and as you’ll surely agree there’s not much to be done about mosquitoes. They’re everywhere during the summer months and often a few of them make their way indoors too. You can’t prevent yourself from getting at least some mosquito bites, and your dog is going to get some too.

From there, it’s a roll of a dice as to whether that mosquito is carrying the heartworm virus. So yes, eliminating exposure isn’t a realistic approach, but prevention certainly is.

What Are Heartworm Symptoms in Dogs?

In any case where a pet owner becomes aware of heartworm symptoms in dogs, the fact that the infection may have progressed significantly by that point is reason enough to make sure you see a veterinarian without delay. Heartworm symptoms in dogs include:

  • A soft, dry cough
  • Inactivity or lethargy
  • Weight loss or anorexia
  • Rapid or difficult breathing
  • Bulging chest
  • Allergic reaction
  • In severe or pronounced cases, collapse

What are the exact causes of these heartworm symptoms in dogs? The cough is caused by the worms entering the lungs and then multiplying there and in surrounding veins. The inactivity or lethargy comes from the heart muscles being generally weakened by the invaders. Weight loss or anorexia develops because physical chores like eating become too difficult and tiring as heartworm disease progresses.

Breathing difficulties result from the heartworms inhabiting the lungs for a long time, and then resulting fluid around the blood vessels in the lungs making it difficult for them to oxygenate blood. Fluid buildup and pronounced weight loss are the causes of bulging chest, while the times a dog with heartworms has an allergic reaction is because the animal’s immune system is triggered by the invaders.

When a dog collapses because of heartworms it’s because the worms have caused blockage of blood flow. This is known as vena cava syndrome, and it usually occurs with red blood cell destruction and usually indicates the dog is near death.

Secondary symptoms include nosebleeds, secondary pneumonia, increased blood pressure, excessive sleeping (hypersomnia), seizures, blindness, or lameness.

Increased Risk Based on Location

The Southeast and Southernmost Central (south/east Texas) are the areas of the country where incidences of heartworms in dogs increase drastically. The connection there is in the fact that these regions have warmer year-round climates along with more humidity, and this results in higher prevalence of mosquitos.

Treatments for Heartworms in Dogs

As mentioned, the best way to prevent a dog getting heartworms is to have them on an ongoing medication regimen where taking the medicine regularly means they are always protected from heartworms. Nuheart is one such medication, and it has different dosage sizes for dogs of different body weights to ensure yours gets the right dose. One of the advantages of Nuheart is that it’s meat flavored, so it’s not difficult to get your dog to take it.

For dog owners that want a medication that has far reaching parasite-killing potential, Revolution is a very good choice. It’s a flea and tick medication for dogs that also kills heartworms, hookworms, roundworms, ear mites, and scabies mites that cause mange. It’s also to be used every month.

Seeing heartworm symptoms in dogs usually means the parasites have already done damage to the animal’s organ, so any heartworm prevention medication that prevents the infestation from occurring in the first place is obviously preferable. Heartgard Plus can join the other two here as an excellent choice for this type of medication. It’s also a real-beef chewable that most dogs are happy to chew and swallow.

Try a Natural Bug Repellant Spray

We’ve made it clear that mosquitoes are the original source of the problem, and fewer mosquito bites means less of the chances of a dog getting heartworms. Try this all-natural homemade insect repellant that you can safely spray onto your dog. Here’s what you will need:

  • 1 glass spray bottle
  • Small quantity of lemon eucalyptus essential oil
  • Small quantity of witch hazel or coconut oil

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Some like to add vanilla extract, peppermint essential oil, or cedarwood essential oil. Mix the ingredients together in your spray bottle, shake it well, and then proceed to spray it all over your dog while being careful not to spray any near their eyes.

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