what are signs of heartworms in dogs

what are signs of heartworms in dogs


What are Signs of Heartworms in Dogs

As a caregiver, you’re always on the lookout for signs that your furry friend may be in distress. One of the most insidious threats to your dog’s health is heartworm disease. This disease is a serious and potentially fatal condition caused by parasitic worms living in the heart and the blood vessels of the lungs. Let’s delve into the signs of heartworms in dogs so you can be prepared.

1. Coughing

Your dog’s cough might be more than just a small cold. One of the first signs of heartworms in dogs is a soft, dry cough. This is due to the heartworms’ presence in the heart and lung vessels, causing irritation.

  • Dry cough
  • Persistent cough
  • Coughing after exercise

If you notice any of these, it may be time to consult with your vet.

2. Fatigue

Does your dog seem more tired than usual? Fatigue is another common symptom of heartworm disease. The heartworms make it harder for the heart to pump blood, leading to a decrease in energy levels.

  • Tiredness after minimal exercise
  • Unusual lethargy
  • Less playful

Monitor your dog’s energy levels closely. A sudden decrease in activity could be a red flag.

3. Weight Loss and Loss of Appetite

Heartworms can also affect your dog’s appetite, leading to weight loss. If you’ve noticed your dog eating less or losing weight rapidly, it could be a sign of heartworms.

Symptoms Description
Weight Loss Rapid weight loss without changes in diet
Loss of Appetite Unusual refusal to eat

4. Difficulty Breathing and Rapid Breathing

Heartworms can cause difficulty breathing and rapid breathing in dogs. This is due to the damage they cause to the lungs and heart.

  • Rapid breathing
  • Difficulty catching breath
  • Panting when at rest

These symptoms can be especially noticeable after exercise.

5. Protruding Chest and Allergic Reaction

In severe cases of heartworms, your dog’s chest may begin to protrude due to the enlargement of the heart and liver. Some dogs may also suffer allergic reactions to the worms, leading to skin conditions.

  • Protruding chest
  • Allergic reactions (itchy skin, redness)
  • Skin conditions

Keep a keen eye on your dog’s physical appearance and any changes in their skin health.


Q: Can heartworms be prevented?
A: Yes, heartworms can be prevented with medications that are prescribed by a vet.

Q: Are certain dogs more susceptible to heartworms?
A: Heartworms can affect any breed of dog, regardless of age or size.

Q: Can heartworms be cured?
A: While heartworms can be treated, the process can be challenging and expensive.

Q: What happens if heartworms are left untreated?
A: If left untreated, heartworms can cause severe damage to a dog’s heart, lungs, and other organs, potentially leading to death.

Being aware of these signs and symptoms can help you catch heartworm disease early and get your dog the help they need. Remember, it’s always better to prevent heartworms than to treat them.