Can an owner tell if their dog or cat has heartworm disease?
Pets recently or only mildly infected with heartworms may show no signs of disease. In later stages, dogs may cough, lose their appetite, become lethargic, or have difficulty breathing. Veterinarians can detect heartworm infection in its early stages by testing your pet’s blood for the presence of circulating microfilariae. Radiography of the chest is also helpful in making a diagnosis, and it may aid in giving some indication of the severity of infection. Clinical signs in cats are similar to that of dogs. Most cats never show signs of disease, though. While the diagnostic approach to heartworm disease in cats is similar to that used for dogs, diagnosis is much more difficult because cats usually harbor very few adult worms.