Heartworm is a serious and potentially deadly disease that affects the heart, lungs and other organs of dogs. It is caused by an insidious parasite that is spread through mosquito bites. Fortunately, heartworms can be prevented with a monthly chew, such as Simparica Trio.

While it’s easy to prevent heartworm disease, it’s important to catch the signs of heartworms as soon as possible to prevent serious health complications. 

Sadly, because heartworm disease is caused by a parasite that is contracted through mosquito bites, it can be difficult to detect until it’s already advanced. However, there are certain signs to look out for that may indicate your dog has heartworms.

Here’s what you need to know about recognising the signs of heartworm in dogs and how you can keep your canine companion safe.

How Heartworm Disease Affects Dogs

Heartworm is caused by a type of roundworm that is spread by mosquitoes. Once bitten, worm larvae penetrate the skin and move through the bloodstream until they reach the heart and lungs. 

The larvae will mature into adult worms over time, and as their numbers increase, they cause damage to vital organs and block blood flow. If left untreated, heartworms can cause organ failure, respiratory distress and even death.

Common Signs of Heartworm in Dogs 

The early signs of heartworms can be hard to detect because they resemble other conditions or may not be present at all. The most common symptoms of heartworm in dogs include: 

  • Coughing
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty breathing during exertion 
  • Fatigue after only mild activity or exercise 

As the infection progresses, more noticeable physical signs, such as swollen abdomen or limbs, may become apparent. Since these signs can also indicate other illnesses such as pneumonia or bronchitis, it’s best to have your veterinarian perform tests if you suspect your pup may be suffering from heartworms. 

In addition to physical symptoms, there may be changes in your dog’s behaviour as well. For instance, they may become more irritable or aggressive than normal. They may also seem unusually quiet or withdrawn. If you notice any changes in your dog’s behaviour that are out of the ordinary, it’s important to have them checked out by a veterinarian right away. 

Diagnosing Heartworm Disease 

The only way to definitively diagnose heartworm disease is through laboratory tests, such as an antibody test or a blood test. Your veterinarian will be able to recommend the best course of action for diagnosing your dog if they suspect they have heartworms. 

Once diagnosed with heartworms, there are several treatments available, depending on severity of the case and your pooch’s age and overall health.

Preventing Heartworm Disease

Prevention is always better than cure when it comes to heartworms as treatment can be costly and time-consuming. By far, the leading way to protect against heartworm disease is monthly topical or oral medication, such as Simparica Trio.

Additionally, limit your dog’s exposure to mosquitoes by keeping them indoors when mosquitos are most active (dusk and dawn) and using repellent when outdoors. Protecting your pet from mosquitos with clothing or mosquito nets while outdoors can also help.

Be sure to keep their bedding clean and dry since parasites thrive in moist environments. Finally, make sure your pet gets plenty of exercise, which will not only help keep them healthy, but also help strengthen their immune system, so they’re better able to fight off potential infections from parasites like heartworms.      

Start your pup on Simparica Trio today. Find the right size for your pooch with our full range of Simparica Trio for puppies and dogs! One monthly chew will provide broad parasite protection for 35 days to keep your pupper healthy and thriving. Shop the range now!