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Heartworm Symptoms in Dogs and Cats

Heartworm disease is a dangerous and potentially condition that affects both dogs and cats, and once contracted, it can be difficult to treat. One of the key factors in your pet making a recovery from heartworm is early intervention, so being able to recognize the signs is important for all pet owners.

Signs of heartworm in dogs

In the early stages of heartworm, your dog may experience few or no symptoms at all, but the more developed the disease, the more numerous and severe the symptoms.

Early signs may include a soft cough, loss of appetite and weight loss, a reluctance to exercise and fatigue after even moderate activity. As the heartworms increase in number and size, they can cause damage to the lungs and heart resulting in labored breathing, a bulging chest and blockages in blood flow resulting in cardiovascular collapse.

Signs of heartworm in cats

As cats are not natural hosts for heartworm, the disease affects them differently. Whereas dogs have more severe symptoms as the number of worms increases, cats can be affected by just one or two worms.

Symptoms may include coughing, lethargy, loss of appetite, asthma-like attacks, vomiting or trouble walking. And in rare cases, cats may die suddenly without any prior symptoms, which is why regular testing and prevention is so important.

Testing for heartworms

Although you should be aware of the symptoms of heartworm disease, regular testing is still a key part of maintaining your pet’s health. Even if your dog or cat is taking a regular heartworm preventative, testing should be done by your vet at least once a year.

For dogs, the presence of heartworm can usually be established or ruled out by a blood test. Diagnosing heartworm in cats can be more difficult and, in addition to a blood test, they may require an x-ray or ultrasound.

Heartworm Symptoms in Dogs and Cats

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