Heartworm Disease, What Signs Your Should Look for in Your Pet?

July 13, 2015

Heartworms can affect the health of dogs, cats, horses and other animals. Transmitted primarily by the bite of mosquito, these parasites attack the animal’s vital organs – including the heart and lungs – and place your pet in serious danger.

Heartworm disease has now spread to all 50 states, including desert areas where it once was never found. And all it takes is one bite of a mosquito with the heartworm larvae to infect your animal. Moreover, these parasites multiply within the pet’s body, and can live 5 to 7 years.

A key component of animal care when it comes to heartworms is recognizing the disease’s symptoms. Knowing the signs can be a crucial first step in providing your pet with the proper, timely treatment.

There are a variety of signs that your pet (dogs are the most common animal infected with the disease) may have heartworm. Some are clearer than others:

* Coughing
As the worms begin to intrude upon the heart and lungs, your pet can develop a mild to severe cough that can be very noticeable.

* Fatigue
Another sign is that your pet may become winded and worn out, and engage in less physical activity than normal. A normally energetic, playful dog may choose to lie down instead of participating in common activities such as fetch.

* Other Signs
A lack of appetite is another sign that your pet may have heartworms, as is weight loss. There may also be signs of fever, or jaundice.

Abdominal sounds may be present in severe cases of the disease, and your pet may even pass out or collapse from lack of blood to the brain. Heartworms are usually fatal if left untreated.

It should be noted that, for owners who have multiple pets, that the disease cannot be transmitted from pet to pet. Only the animal that has been bitten by an infected mosquito will carry the disease. Your pet can share water, food and toys with other pets without exposing them to heartworms.

The good news is that sound animal care includes the prevention and treatment of the disease. There are a wide variety of heartworm preventive medicine available and can be administered via pills, injections or topical ointments.

The treatment of heartworms can be a lengthy process – often up to six weeks – but if caught soon enough, the disease can be treated successfully.

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