A large number of dogs suffer from heartworm in the U.S.. This disease was first discovered in the later 1950’s. Heartworms are just that, worms that live in a dogs heart and in the major blood vessels.
If heartworm goes untreated in a dog, the outcome can often be deadly. The worms make it nearly impossible for the dogs heart to properly function. They also have been known to actually clog the major blood vessels in dogs. It is common for a dog that is suffering from heartworm to have a loss of weight, consistent and continuous coughing, lack of breath, chronic heart failure, visually impaired, and the final result could be death.
It is very important for the health of your dog that you have him or her checked by a vet on a regular basis for heartworms. The earlier your dog is diagnosed with heartworm the earlier the treatment can begin. In turn, the probability of a successful and full recovery increases drastically.
Even if your dog has received negative heartworm test results, you should continue to look for warning signs, so you can notify your vet immediately if you feel your dog might have heartworms. Some of the most common warning signs are:
– a decrease in the level of activity. Generally, an otherwise active dog no longer shows interest in getting up or doing anything that requires work.
– an healthy dog suddenly begins to show signs of trouble breathing, gasping or shortness of breath.
– the dog is coughing, and usually does not have any issues that have previously caused him to cough frequently.
– a dog that normally is very energetic and runs, seems to fall over while running. He can no longer maintain the speed he once used to.
It was once thought that only short haired dogs would get heartworm. This was thought because heartworm is given to the dogs from mosquito bites. It was also previously believed that long haired dogs did not get bitten by mosquitoes because of the longer think hair is harder to penetrate. However, it has since been recognized that dogs are usually bitten on either their belly, ears or muzzles. Making no dog safe from the possible contraction of heartworms.
If the heartworm disease is caught early enough, it is very possible that your dog can be successfully treated and survive. There are chemicals that the vet can give to your dog that can kill the worms. However, this does not happen overnight. It takes a period of time before your pet will be free of the heartworms. The process has to be slow, because if the worms were to all be killed at the same time, the dead worms would then kill the dog.