What Are the Effects of Heartworm?

If left untreated, heartworm disease can cause permanent damage to the heart, liver, and kidneys. Even if it is caught early, it can result in fatal outcomes. Heartworm disease symptoms include coughing, rapid tiredness, and sluggishness. Heartworm infection can be diagnosed by looking for microscopic filaria in a dog’s blood, which may appear six or seven months after initial exposure. Injections of a medication kill adult worms. Your dog will have to spend three to four days in the hospital during the treatment. To know more about it visit heartworm Houston TX.


A dog’s cough and other symptoms of heartworm disease are usually the first signs of a parasitic infection. These symptoms can be subtle or completely absent. The longer the infection persists, the more pronounced the symptoms will be. The disease is most common in active dogs. The veterinarian can also feel liver enlargement and hear abnormal lung sounds. The cough will likely become more severe as the dog becomes less active. In addition to the cough, your dog may develop other symptoms, such as heart failure and fluid build-up in the lungs.

The infection may also cause breathing problems. Worms may enter the lungs, causing fluid build-up that can prevent proper oxygenation of the blood. Chest fluid may also cause ribs to protrude. Chest bulges are also common in adults with heartworm. A chest enlargement can also be a sign of weight loss. Symptoms of heartworm disease include coughing, difficulty breathing, and chest pain.


Depending on the severity of the disease, heartworm treatment can involve a variety of steps. A vet may use additional diagnostic procedures, including blood pressure and cardiac enzyme evaluations, or order other tests. Several other steps may be required, including limiting certain activities. Since exercise can result in heartworm dislodgement, limiting exposure to mosquitoes is essential. Some veterinarians will administer antibiotics to kill the worms and minimize secondary inflammation.


The traditional two-injection melarsomine protocol is no longer used for treating class I heartworm disease in humans. This method requires two injections, one four hours apart, and kills approximately 90% of adult worms. An alternate three-dose melarsomine protocol is now preferred since it can kill 98% of adult worms in one treatment. Heat treatment has also been shown to increase sensitivity in male-only infections, though it may be due to residual antigen from dead parasites.


Taking your dog to a veterinarian for a heartworm diagnosis can be expensive. X-rays and various tests must be performed and multiple vet visits. The treatment can take anywhere from six to twelve months. During that time, heartworm disease can have lasting effects. The cost of heartworm treatments can run into thousands of dollars. However, you can prevent this expense by keeping your pet’s medical records handy and doing the research before making an appointment.

Some pet insurance companies offer a wellness rider, which pays for routine pet care, including checkups. These policies usually do not cover the cost of heartworm prevention, however. The best coverage for this condition comes from a health plan, which does not cover pre-existing conditions, and heartworm treatment is excluded if your dog is diagnosed before enrolling in the plan. If you do not have pet insurance, you can still find some low-cost options. Some rescue organizations also offer treatments at discounted prices.


Heartworm preventatives are parasite-killing drugs that kill immature larvae of the heartworm in the bloodstream. They should be given monthly to prevent the development of heartworm in your pet. Heartworm prevention medications should be continued if the dog is not in an area with cold weather. If the medication is missed, it is important to give the heartworm preventative again as soon as possible. Heartworm preventatives can also prevent fleas from infesting your dog.

While it is important to follow the correct preventive regimen, some strains of heartworm are resistant to prevention. You should be aware of these strains if you live in the Mississippi River delta area. It is important to treat any known heartworm infection definitively and not skip preventive doses. Moreover, it is crucial to treat heartworm infections as early as possible if you have visited a place with a high parasite prevalence.