When your family includes furry friends, you’ll do anything you can to take care of your furriest family members. After all, your pets offer you love unconditionally and bring joy to your family without asking for much in return. That’s why it’s important to protect your furry friends from exposure to parasites that can threaten their safety and health.


At Normandale Vet Hospital, we work hard to help pet owners keep all of their family members safe and healthy for many years to come. One of the most preventable health problems we see is heartworms. Here are five of the most common heartworm symptoms to be on the lookout for.


1.      Laziness or Chronically Lethargic Appearance

It’s true that some pets are naturally lazy and love lying around in the sun. But if your dog is actively avoiding physical activity, it could be that your pet is feeling fatigued due to heartworms.


Heartworms can grow as long as 12 inches and live for up to seven years, and they can multiply in the lungs and veins surrounding them, causing your dog to feel fatigued. Even after only light exercise, your pet may feel weak and have difficulty standing. It’s important to seek help right away if your dog seems lethargic.


2.      Bronchitis-like Symptoms

Because heartworms will burrow in and around your pet’s lungs, your pet may exhibit similar symptoms to a human suffering from bronchitis. If your pet is coughing during or after exercise or light activity, it’s important to treat this as a serious symptom. If your pet is very sick, he or she may even faint after exercise.


3.      Breathing Trouble

In addition to coughing, your dog may demonstrate irregular breathing patterns. This is due to fluid building in the lung’s blood vessels, which makes it difficult for your pet’s lungs to oxygenate their blood. Rapid breathing for long periods of time and difficulty getting air into their lungs are both serious symptoms of heartworms.


4.      Appetite Problems

If your pet is refusing food or demonstrating a reduced appetite, this is almost always a symptom of something more serious. If you’ve noticed your pet is eating less, bring him to the vet right away. Once your pet’s health has deteriorated to the point that eating is exhausting, it’s difficult for their body to help fight heartworms.


5.      Chest Bulging

If your pet’s chest or rib cage seems to be bulging, this could be a result of adult heartworms. Expanded ribs may be a side effect of fluid buildup in their lungs. Or it can also be a sign of anorexia and weight loss caused by the heartworms in their lungs and surrounding vessels.


Let our Edina Veterinary Hospital Treat Your Pet for Heartworms

No one wants to see their pet suffer, especially when it’s something that’s easily treated and completely preventable. Our team of professional and caring veterinarians at Normandale Vet Hospital can help protect your pets against heartworms and other parasites so they can live long, healthy lives.


If you suspect your dog may be suffering from heartworms, bring her in for a checkup and let us get her back on track. We also provide emergency care, surgery, vaccines, general veterinary treatment, and even grooming. Call our team to schedule your appointment for medical treatment at 952-831-8272 or send a message to on our contact page.