We've had a little look at how Symptoms of heartworms in dogs , dogs & cats co-exist in a way advantageous only for the heartworm. Now it is time to look more closely at the symptoms of heartworm for dogs. It is all very well saying we need to stop our dogs getting heartworm, but how will we know if they've beaten us, and our dog is infected? Sadly the symptoms of heartworm for dogs are unlikely to arise until the heartworm have matured into adults, reached the heart and blood supply and then reproduced. It is then that the entire blood supply becomes home to tiny heartworms and things get really difficult for your pet. The immature worms infiltrate capillaries and organs. Usually heartworms symptoms become apparent in Spring around six months after the mosquito season. It is then, that the heartworms have completed their life-cycle, reached maturity and bred more offspring. Until this has occurred heartworm tests are unlikely to show a true positive for heartworm disease in your pet. Symptoms of heartworms in dogs Coughing The first sign of heartworm in most dogs is a coughing. This is easy to ignore as our pets get sniffles and coughs just like us. This makes it difficult to know whether or not to worry and contact the Vet. If your dog is coughing particularly when taking exercise or even just moving around, you should be concerned. Heartworm stops the flow of oxygenated blood between the heart and lungs meaning exercise is difficult while the lungs desperately try to get enough oxygen into the system to fuel the muscles for activity. The number of heartworms in the heart and surrounding blood vessels will slow blood-flow and make all activity difficult. With a large number of worms in the heart, the wind-pipe is likely to be under pressure which will cause a rather dry cough. If the worm population is particularly large the dog may cough more when lying down due to increased pressure on the chest cavity. Coughing associated with heartworms is likely to progress from a mild sounding problem to a deep-seated persistent cough from deep in the chest. Coughing associated with activity six months after the mosquito season is a common first sign that your dog could be infected with heartworm and should be checked out immediately. Bloody Sputum Blood in the saliva is a sure sign of trouble. Damage being done to the lungs would be of primary concern. If your pet has bloody saliva see your Vet. Nose bleeds are also a symptom of possible heartworm disease. Breathing Difficulties With lungs struggling, heart fighting to cope and a wind-pipe under pressure it is not surprising that many dogs with heartworm will show signs of breathing difficulties. Shortness of breath and gasping for air are indications that you should visit your Vet immediately. Active dogs are likely to show signs of breathing problems earlier than inactive ones. This is because their bodies have to work harder to keep up with all that running around. Lethargy As the dog's body struggles to maintain liver function and blood supply it will over time weaken. Previously active dogs are likely to become sedate and no longer interested in playing or prolonged exercise. Only you will know if your dog is feeling weak or just lazy. Some dogs are continually active whilst others sleep their lives away. Always keep an eye on your pet's mood and general demeanour so you spot changes quickly. Lethargy is a symptom of many health problems, some serious and many minor. If it continues for more than a few days you should consult your Vet. Loss of Appetite A change in your dogs view on meal-times for more than a day or two is always a sign for concern. Any illness including heartworm disease can cause loss of appetite in your pet. Weight Loss If your dog is continuing to eat, but losing weight there is a problem. There could be any number of causes including heartworm disease. Fluid Build Up As heartworm disease progresses fluid may concentrate on the lungs causing pneumonia. This may be detected by a loud rattle when breathing. The abdominal cavity may also appear larger. As the kidneys an liver deteriorate they are unable to remove fluid and toxins from the system so fluid is retained. Jaundice Jaundice is a sign that heartworm have already caused liver damage. A visit to the vet is critical. Jaundice is most easily spotted as a yellow discoloration of the whites of the eyes, gums and skin. Fainting & Collapse Once this stage of heartworm disease is reached your dog is very poorly indeed and is experiencing Vena Cava or Caval Syndrome. Loss of conciousness is due to the obstruction in heart and blood vessels dramatically reducing, or stopping blood supply. It is possible that no treatment will now be able to remedy the situation. Problems of Heartworm for Dogs Alongside these heartworm symptoms which you may, or may not encounter, the heartworms will be affecting your dog in ways you are unlikely to notice. As the number of heartworm increase they congregate in organs, joints and the eyes causing further damage, pain and distress. Liver damage. Kidney damage. Joint pain. Eye pain. One of the biggest problems of heartworm for dogs is the difficulty in catching it early enough. A normally sedate dog may cope with little obvious sign of the disease for years. Then, when you do see indications of Symptoms of heartworms in dogs disease it is often very risky and difficult to eradicate. Extremely active dogs will generally show signs much earlier, but must be treated earlier as they are less able to deal with the stresses that heartworm population put on their bodies. As with many dog health problems, heartworm symptoms can easily be symptoms of other problems which is why it is crucial, to remain vigilant and unafraid to consult a Vet at the earliest opportunity. There is no home remedy to deal with heartworm for dogs. You will need professional treatment to help your pet.