Heartworm symptoms dogs? If you are like me, then you know how important your dog is to your life. It is that pet that will just sit there and listen to you bitch about people from the streets or from work. It is that pet that will just be there and listen to you when you need a shoulder to just cry on.
I remember one time when a friend of my was in hospital, I was very sad. I could not believe that an accident by a drunk motorist could cost the life of that one friend I had relied on all my life. So I get home, very sad and just sit on the coach not knowing if I should cry or thank God for saving her life. Max, my dog just came, saw how sad I was and just sat next to me with his head on my lap.
Although he said nothing just that action alone made me realize that my dog does actually care about me. In addition, he does know when I am in a good mood and when I just need time to cool and relax.
Max has always been the kind of dog that is very strong. He fights infections and illness very fast and one is able to just know he will get through anything. Because I have known him since he was just a puppy I know when he is sick and when he is just in a bad mood.
Yes, dogs to have those days they just want to be angry with everyone and just sleep by themselves. So when max got sick one day, he was just lethargic and I knew something was wrong.
Like every human person on the planet, naturally my first reaction was to pick up my phone and Google his symptoms.
I got numerous result for stomach problems in dogs but nothing really seemed to get to the point of what max was suffering from. So when Google does not know, I freak out. I rushed to the hospital and the vet told me I was lucky to have been such a keen person because max had heartworms. What, a heart can have worms?
Heartworm symptoms in dogs
Turns out heartworms are silent killers and the symptoms are often overlooked. They are preventable but many people will wait until it is too late. I have to admit to you though, treating heartworms is expensive!
This condition begins with a mosquito bite. The mosquito provides transportation to a parasite called Dirofilaria Immitis.
These parasites are small. They resemble a thread- like roundworm. When the mosquito bites your dog, It transmits this parasite to him.
The parasite enters a mosquito and goes through two molts. The second molt is when it becomes infectious and waits for the mosquito to bite a new host. Once in the host’s body, the parasite goes through two more molts then it becomes an adult.
The adult heartworm goes to one of the chambers in the heart of lungs and just grows bigger. It can grow up to 10 times its original size.
After around six months after the original bite, the heartworm will begin producing off- springs. It is during this time that it can be detected in the blood. This means that when max was bitten, it took me six months or more to begin seeing the symptoms of the heartworm that had built a home in his heart or lungs.
The stages of heartworms
Heartworms in dogs, like cancer also has four stages. The last stages are serious and may lead to death.
During the first stage of the heartworm attachment, the heart warm is still very small that it may not be detected in a blood test.
At this stage you may just notice a small cough from your dog every once in a while which could make you think about dog food allergy symptoms or like. A soft dry cough is what you will notice. Your dog will however remain healthy and appear happy without any problems.
At the second stage of the heartworm attack, you may begin to notice more symptoms that could tip you off like they did me.
The cough that was In the first sage, may become more persistent. After exercising, you will notice that your dog is coughing more and is fatigued even after light exercises.
Your dog may even faint after the exercises. His is a stage where a keen dog owner will notice that something is wrong and will take their dog to the vet.
By the time it gets to stage 3, the heartworm is having real impact on your dog’s health. Now, the symptoms are a lot more severe and noticeable than in the previous stages.
The coughing will continue and your dog will be more fatigued after exercises. Sometimes it will refuse to exercises and will have a lot of trouble breathing because the heartworms are no blocking many areas in the lungs and so the oxygen is not effectively reaching your dog’s brain and other body parts.
At this stage, your dog may cough up blood, nosebleed, your dog may lose weight because simple chores like eating become difficult and exhausting. At this point the heartworms will be visible on the x- rays.
At this stage the dog is showing more and more symptoms. The dog at this point has a bulging chest because it has lost a lot of weight and the heartworms have increased in both size and number.
The dog will also have more difficulties breathing because the heartworms have inhibited the lungs and he surrounding veins.
The build up of fluid makes it difficult for the heart to oxygenate. As a result of lack of enough oxygen, the dog may collapse because of the blocked blood flow. Shock accompanies the collapse and here will be a destruction of the red blood cells, if your dog collapses, death follows in days.
As a dog owner, you should be mindful of your dog’s condition and should be keen not to overlook anything. Like you would with your own children, make the dog part of the family so much so you will notice even the small things.