I thought I would email you to see if you could give me any suggestions on Bandit, our 4 year old Blue Heeler. Since we have had some nice warmer days recently; we have let bandit be outside running through the fields and playing down by the river. We have noticed that he doesn’t want to swim this season and when we play fetch with him he coughs some and doesn’t want to play as long as he normally does. This really concerns me since it seems like it has happened all of the sudden.
It sounds like Bandit may be having a problem with his heart. These symptoms you list of decreased exercise tolerance and coughing are commonly seen with Heart Disease and Heartworms. Although it seems like this is an acute problem if Bandit has been in the house with you all winter this problem has probably been building, but you are just now noticing it as his exercise level returns to normal.
I believe you should bring Bandit in right away for an examination and testing. We will perform a heartworm test to see if he has heartworms and may do a radiograph of his chest to evaluate his heart as well. Prevention should be given year round without interruption. Your proximity to the river is concerning as Heartworms are contracted through mosquito bites. You do not have to live next to a river to contract heartworms though. A mosquito may carry heartworms at anytime and may live through a winter if they are able to hide in warm areas, especially in urban regions.
If you have left over heartworm prevention from last year please do not start it until we test Bandit as giving prevention to a dog carrying a large burden of heartworms can be fatal to him. Please call us to schedule Bandit’s appointment at your earliest convenience.