8 Heartfelt Questions about Heartworms in Dogs


It is really a heartbreaking situation when you find out that your furry pal is suffering from heartworm disease. The problem is, not many dog owners in our country are fully aware of the life-threatening effects heartworm disease. If a doggy is affected by heartworms, it can cause various problems like heart failure to kidney disease or even worse. Hence, it is recommended to have your pooch on a year-round heartworm prevention so that he is minimal risk of contracting this parasite.

It is relatively easy to prevent infection through adequate preventative measures, but remember, once adult heartworms get into the pet, it can not only be dangerous but also very costly to treat. You can try different heartworm preventatives ranging from oral monthly tablets, topical treatments to be applied on the doggy skin to an injection that lasts for 6 months.

As a dog owner, you should ask these heartworm questions to your vet which would alert you about this life-threatening disease. let us now look at some of the heartfelt questions about heartworms in dogs that you need to be aware of:

What Is Heartworm?

From the name you can gauge that heartworm is a parasite that adversely affects the internal organs of the pet. When a mosquito carrying heartworm bites a pet, heartworm larvae gets deposited in the bloodstream of the pet. It takes about six months for the larvae to transform into adult heartworms. The peculiar feature of adult heartworms is that they can grow up to 12 inches in length and get into the heart, lungs and blood vessels of the pet.

How Do Dogs Acquire Heartworm?

Like different types of dangerous pet parasites, heartworm is carried by mosquitoes. A single bite can infect the pooch. Remember, the hot and humid climate in our country can make this parasite even more dangerous for our furry pals.

Which Pets Can Acquire Heartworm?

Dogs, foxes, ferrets, wolves, coyotes and occasionally cats.

What Are The Symptoms Of Heartworm?

The worst part of heartworm disease is that there are very little to no symptoms in the initial stage of the disease. But as the disease progresses, your pooch will show mild symptoms like: lethargy, decreased appetite, weight loss, swollen belly from excessive fluid and persistent cough. If the disease involves multiple worms it can even lead to cardiac blockage that can cause caval syndrome even with surgery. Due to the severity of the symptoms, it is recommended to take your tyke to the veterinarian for early heartworm detection.

Is It Possible For A Dog To Acquire Heartworm From Other Fellow Beings?

Technically, it is not possible. But there is a rare change that any animal infected with heartworm can pass it along a mosquito that can affect other animals. Irrespective of whether your pet is indoor or outdoor, lives in a warm or cold weather, there is always a probability of him getting infected with heartworm.

How Can You Treat Heartworm?

The good news is that it is possible to treat heartworm. But it is very costly and can make the life of your little bundle of love difficult. Diagnosis of the disease is both costly and time-consuming. In order to gauge whether your furry pal is indeed suffering from heartworm, your veterinarian will conduct blood work, x-rays on top of several other tests. Once the severity of the heartworm disease is gauged, the veterinarian will be able to determine the proper line of treatment. It typically involves several painful, arsenic based injections that assist in treating the worms and larvae followed by one to three month period wherein the doggy will have very limited physical activity even after surgery.

How Can You Prevent Heartworm?

In order to prevent heartworm disease in dogs you need to take your furry friend for annual check-ups and give a monthly dose of heartworm preventive treatment. As enumerated earlier, heartworm preventative treatments can be divided into two parts: topical and in pill form. Never miss the dosage as it can lower the effectiveness of the preventative.

When Should You Get Your Dog Tested For Heartworm?

It is recommended to get your pooch tested annually during a routine check-up and give heartworm preventative treatments as recommended by your veterinarian.