How To Detect Heartworm Disease and Protect Your Dog | PetFirst
Pet Care & Health

How To Detect Heartworm Disease and Protect Your Dog

by PetFirst Pet Insurance
2 years ago

Heartworm disease is known as the “silent killer.” Your dog could have heartworm disease and you may not be aware of it.

Unfortunately, many pet parents take preventive measures for granted; they believe their dog would never fall victim to this disease.  

What many pet parents don’t realize is dogs are more vulnerable to heartworm disease simply because of the fact that dogs go out-of-doors more often than many cats.  

Mosquitoes are the major carriers of heartworm disease. Your dog can be infected from a single bite. If you live in an area of the country where mosquitoes thrive, your dog could fall victim to this dangerous disease.  

What are signs of heartworm disease?  

  • A soft cough. When the heartworms make their way to your dog’s lungs and the surrounding veins, your dog will begin coughing. The coughing is more prevalent when your dog has been exercising.  
  • Loss of energy. When your dog is infected with heartworm, he or she will seem lethargic and will have no energy to participate in activities she once loved. 
  • Unexplained weight loss. If your dog has difficulty eating or is uninterested in food, this is could be a symptom.  
  • Difficulty breathing, In addition to the cough, your dog may have a hard time breathing. If the heartworms infect the lungs, they take up the space surrounding her lungs and she cannot catch a full breath.  
  • Nose bleeds, seizures, blindness, lameness and/or increased thirst could be symptoms of heartworm disease. 

How can you prevent heartworm disease in your dog?  

Preventive treatments are crucial because heartworm treatments will take a toll on your dog and her health. The treatment for heartworms can be long and painful and may require hospitalization for your dog. These treatments will lead to a stack of medical bills, as well.  

Before we get too far into the treatment, let’s discuss preventive measures.

Your veterinarian can run a simple blood test that will detect the presence of heartworms. The blood test will also evaluate internal organ function levels and blood counts. This annual test could protect your dog and prevent her falling victim to this silent killer disease.  

Preventive treatments include monthly heartworm preventive medication. This medicine can reduce the chance that your dog will become infected. Your dog should be put on these preventive treatments prior to mosquito season; ask your veterinarian for the proper time to begin treatment to protect your dog.  

Additionally, keep your dog out of areas where mosquitoes thrive – dark, wooded areas, and long, tall grass, for example. If you have standing water around your home, remove that as standing water is an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes.

Ask your veterinarian for advice on a mosquito repellant you can use on your dog or cat when they are outside that is safe for use on pets. Keep your dog safe, happy and healthy this summer when mosquito season strikes.

Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

Robbi Hess is a full-time pet blogger and multi-published author. She shares her life with a diva Poodle, a goofy Goldendoodle, two Devon Rex, a senior ginger kitty, and three reptiles!

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