How You Can Protect Your Dog from Heartworms


Infected animals with heartworms develop heartworm disease, a potentially fatal condition. Heartworms are a type of roundworm that live in the heart, lungs, and nearby blood vessels. Even though heartworm infection is treatable, it can cause long-term damage to the heart, lungs, and other organs.


How heartworm is spread

A dog may contract heartworm larvae when bitten by a mosquito. The larvae continue to move through the dog’s body until they reach the blood vessels in the heart and lungs. The heartworm larvae develop into adult heartworms that can reach lengths of up to 12 inches during the course of about six months while they are still in those blood vessels. When a dog is bitten by a mosquito, the cycle of adult heartworms multiplying and releasing young heartworms into the dog’s blood is continued.


Diagnosing heartworm

The earlier heartworm disease is discovered, the better your dog’s chances of recovering. Additionally, it’s essential to test your dog annually because there are few, if any, early signs of the condition. A quick blood test can identify heartworms.


If your dog does exhibit heartworm disease symptoms, they may include coughing, an aversion to physical activity, and poor physical condition.


Preventing heartworm

Giving your dog a heartworm prevention medication on the same day each month is essential for keeping him healthy. Consider using a mosquito repellent product as well, as this will help prevent your dog from being bitten in the first place.


We’ll check for heartworms during your dog’s yearly preventive care appointment to be sure the preventive has been successful. Your dog will be at increased risk of heartworm infection if:

  • A dose of preventive medication was missed
  • A dose of preventive medication was given late
  • The preventive was spit out or vomited by the dog


Heartworm infections can grow more severe the longer they go untreated. Long after they have been treated and are gone, heartworms can still have an impact on a dog’s health and quality of life.


If your dog requires a heartworm test, annual preventive care, a heartworm preventative refill, or if your puppy is exhibiting symptoms that could point to a heartworm infection, contact your veterinarian.