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Signs of Heartworm in Dogs

 by jaime on 13 Jun 2014 |
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Heartworm is caused by a dangerous organism called Dirofilaria immitis. This parasitic roundworm can be deadly to unprotected dogs, and it is important for all pet owners to be on the lookout for it.
The severity of a heartworm episode is dependent on the number of roundworms present in the dog's body, the length of the infestation and the response of the dog. A dog in a weakened state or one that has a compromised immune system may suffer a more severe reaction, while a dog in otherwise good condition may recover more quickly.
Even though many dogs fully recover from a heartworm infestation, this common disease can be deadly in some cases. Almost all dogs who come in contact with the Dirofilaria immitis parasite contract heartworm, so the best approach is prevention. The organism that causes heartworm is now quite widespread. It is considered endemic in tropical and subtropical climates, and it is commonly found along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts and in river basins from the Ohio to the Mississippi. Dog owners living in these areas should be especially vigilant about protecting their pets, but the organism that causes the diseases exists worldwide and all dog owners need to watch out for the signs and symptoms.
The good news is that heartworm is preventable with a proactive treatment. Pet owners should talk to their veterinarians about prophylactic treatment and protect their pets as soon as possible. An annual heartworm preventative can prevent the disease from taking hold and causing serious damage.
If your dog has not yet been protected from heartworm, it is important to watch out for the common signs and symptoms. In mild cases of the disease, your dog may show few or no symptoms, so it is important to have the dog examined by a veterinarian at least once a year. If you notice any of the following signs and symptoms, you should make an appointment with your vet right away.
.    Coughing
.    Exercise intolerance
.    Anemia
.    Fainting spells
.    Heart failure
The above signs usually indicate a very serious heartworm infestation, and they are not to be taken lightly. As the pet owner, you know your dog better than anyone. If something does not seem right, you need to call your vet immediately for a thorough examination. Your vet can determine whether the symptoms are caused by heartworm or another serious disease.
Your vet can also help you treat heartworm effectively and help your pet recover. While heartworm is a serious disease, it can be treated successfully when caught early. Being a vigilant and aware pet owner is the best way to keep your dog happy and healthy.

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