"Signs of Heartworm...
Because of the serious nature of heartworm disease, you must be on the lookout for the signs of heartworm disease in your pet cat or dog. It is highly recommended to always have your pet on a prescription of Heartgard in order to prevent heartworm infections from occuring.
Heartworms become more and more difficult to treat the longer that they develop, and administering a preventative like Heartgard will remove the risk of disease progression and kill heartworms in their larval stage. Heartworms are known to cause serious problems with circulation, the immune system, lungs, and heart in dogs.
Pets should be tested annually at the very least for heartworms and other parasites. In the meantime, the symptoms and signs of heartworms should always be looked for in dogs and cats. The earlier that heartworm infections are detected, the easier they are to treat and less costly.
Heartworms are Difficult to Detect
Dogs do not typically show signs of heartworm infections during the 6 month period that larval worms are not maturing. There is, however, the possibility that heartworms may cause symptoms during this period by migrating to the eyes or the brain of the dog which would cause atypical symptoms such as blindness and paralysis.
In most cases this does not happen, and there are usually no symptoms until the heartworms have matured into the adult phase. For dogs that are more sedentary, heartworms will not be as symptomatic. Dogs that are more active will demonstrate more symptoms.
The test that is used to diagnose heartworms can not currently detect them until between 5-7 months from the time of initial infection. Therefore, it is very important to use preventatives like Heartgard throughout the year. By the time that a test may diagnose heartworms, the disease may have progressed substantially.
Signs and Symptoms of Heartworms
A mild cough is one of the first symptoms of heartworms. Typically owners do not immediately assume that a cough means heartworms, but it is worth being checked by a veterinarian if there is any doubt at all.
Difficulties with breathing are another symptom of a serious problem. A dog might demonstrate moderate to severe breathing problems that are due to heartworm infections in the lungs. This should be treated as an emergency.
Moderate to severe coughing is a major symptom of heartworms and should also be treated as a serious problem.
Weight loss and loss of appetite are two symptoms that are often related. Weight loss occurs due to the loss of appetite. Loss of appetite is definitely a sign of an illness, and may be due to heartworms.
Dogs that have heartworm become averse to exercise. If a dog is showing hesitation to be active that is abnormal, this behavior is not normal and may stem from a heartworm infection.
Jaundice is the sign of late stage infections that have reached the liver. The disease is very difficult to treat at this stage.
Be sure to use Heartgard throughout the year to prevent heartworm disease and symptoms.