Top Signs Your Dog May Have Heartworms

Dogs cannot convey their illness and diseases through words. Unlike you who can complain about your problems when required, dogs and other pets find it challenging to express their unhealthy conditions. There are millions of dogs dying every day due to various diseases.

One of the most attention-worthy diseases is heartworms. It is a life-threatening condition in dogs whereby the heart and lungs do not function properly because they are infected by these worms. More than 1 million dogs are infected by this disease every year. 

The disease is caused by the infectious mosquito-borne larva, called Dirofilaria immitis. Mosquitoes are primarily responsible for transmitting the disease by carrying disease-filled blood. There are many preventive measures you can take to avert heartworms. These include giving the pet different heartworm chewables for dogs, injections & medicines. 

Top 8 Symptoms You Should Know About Heartworms

The following signs are the most common indications of your dog having heartworm disease. These symptoms are categorized into three different stages.

Early Stage Symptoms (Stage-1)

The early signs of the disease include:

Weight Loss

Initially, the dogs feel restlessness. Their appetite decreases, leading to quick weight loss. Your dog might refuse to intake routine food, and you can also witness their inability to rest comfortably.  

Continuous dry cough

The parasite attacks the lung in the first stage. Its entry blocks the breathing activity leading to uncomfortable scenarios. This problem in breathing leads to dry cough, especially after exercise or physical activity.  


Dizziness and lethargy also constitute the early indications of the condition. Once the dog attracts the disease, they tend to show less activeness for regular walks and exercises.

Middle Stage Symptoms (Stage-2)

The aforementioned signs grow gradually. These indicators worsen and show the following advanced signs. 

Advanced Breathing Problem

The breathing difficulty stated above grows more worrisome, leading to a build-up of the blood layer around the blood vessels in the lungs blocking the breathing passage. The lung finds it challenging to oxygenate the blood flowing from the heart. You should look for signs of severe breathing problems or conditions, including dyspnoea.

Swollen Belly

The blood layer expands the lungs and the rib area of the body. As a result, the belly of the dog swells exponentially. The loose belly portion is also due to loss of appetite and weight. Eventually, you will be able to clearly spot these symptoms after they grow to an extent. 

Last Stage Symptoms (Stage-3)

When the disease reaches the final stage,  you should be able to see the following signs:

  • The dog’s lungs making strange sounds and noise
  • Bulging and abnormally grown liver
  • Whooshing or swishing of heart

Things to Know About Treating the Disease at the Right Time

  • Once you identify these symptoms and the dog tests positive for the disease, you should not wait for the last moment and take your dog to a veterinarian for treatment. Delays in treating heartworms can lead to severe conditions like caval syndrome, responsible for the dog’s death. 
  • In the process of curing the disease, the first step is to identify the severity or stage of the disease. Post the detection stage, a veterinarian gives the necessary medication for preventing the further spread of the worms. The treatment kills the infectious parasites and also restricts their multiplication. 
  • The treatment of the disease requires a considerable amount of money and time. If the dog has reached the last stage of the illness or shows stage-3 symptoms, the treatment takes more time for complete recovery. 
  • The most crucial thing to note is that the treatment does not guarantee 100% success. If the worms spread at an increasing rate to the heart and lungs of a dog, there are high chances of death.  

Tips to Lower Signs of Disease & Multiplication of Worms

The following ways can help reduce the advanced symptoms of the disease by stopping the multiplication of these infectious worms. 

  • It is essential to give proper sleep and rest to the dog. It is advisable to avoid taking them for regular exercises. Moreover, if they are losing their diet, do not force them to eat beyond their limits. Experts suggest that after every melarsomine injection, the dog should take a strict rest of 28-30 days. 
  • Prior to the first treatment of the disease, there should be complete heartworm prevention for at least 60 days. 
  • Before going for the first treatment, the dog should consume antibiotics that kill the disease-carrying parasites. 


The guide provided above shows the fatality of the disease. Early detection of this disease can prove highly beneficial for both owners and dogs. Prevention of this disease proves to be time-consuming and expensive. Therefore, these symptoms should be taken care of throughout the diagnosis process.

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