What Is Heartworm In Dogs? Possible Steps To Prevent Heartworm In Dogs?

What Is Heartworm In Dogs? Possible Steps To Prevent Heartworm In Dogs?


As a pet owner, one of the most important things you can do to keep your dog healthy and safe is to learn about some common illnesses, such as heartworm. Do you know what heartworm is in dogs? Heartworms are parasites that move through a dog’s bloodstream and live in their lungs and other organs. It might sound scary, but understanding what heartworms are and how they infect dogs will help ensure that your canine companion has good health throughout their life! .

In this blog post, we will give you an overview of heartworm disease in dogs, how they contract it, the symptoms to watch out for, and the steps you can take to prevent your pup from getting infected.

We also provide information on heartworm treatment for dogs. So, if you have a pup, keep reading to learn more about heartworm in dogs!

Overview of Heartworm Disease in Dogs

Heartworm in dogs is a terrible condition that causes severe lung disease, heart failure, organ damage, and death in dogs. Dirofilaria immitis is a parasitic worm that causes it. Mosquito bites transmit the worms.

The dog is the sole host, meaning that the worms mature into adults, mate, and reproduce while living inside a dog. The mosquito serves as an intermediate host, meaning that the worms spend a brief period inside of the mosquito before becoming infective (able to cause heartworm disease).

Heartworm is most commonly found in warm, humid climates but can be found almost anywhere that mosquitoes are present. The worms can survive for several years inside a dog’s body and cause significant damage to the heart and lungs. As the adult worms grow, they clog blood vessels and impede blood flow to vital organs such as the heart and lungs.

This results in a number of clinical signs, including severe coughing, labored breathing, weight loss, lethargy, and even death.

It is very important to diagnose heartworm disease early in order to prevent further damage to the dog’s health. Diagnosis is typically done through a combination of tests (blood test for microfilaria or antigen test), chest x-rays, and ultrasound imaging.

Once a dog is diagnosed with heartworm disease, treatment involves killing the adult worms using an appropriate drug therapy followed by rest to help repair the damage caused by the infestation. The sooner a dog is diagnosed and treated for heartworm disease, the better their prognosis will be. It is important to remember that prevention is always better than cure, so pet owners should make sure to give their dogs heartworm preventatives regularly. This will help ensure that their pet stays healthy and free of this potentially deadly disease.

How Dogs Contract Heartworm Diseases

Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal condition that affects dogs, cats, and other species of wild animals. Dogs can contract this disease in several different ways. Let’s take a look at the most common:.

  1. Dirofilaria immitis

    This is the most common form of heartworm disease in dogs. It is caused by a parasitic worm, Dirofilaria immitis, which lives in the heart and lungs of an infected dog. The infection can be spread through mosquito bites from an infected animal.

  2. Mosquito Bites

    The mosquito bite is the primary way that dogs can contract heartworm disease. The mosquito carries the larvae and injects them into the bloodstream of the dog when bitten. From there, the larvae will travel to the heart and lungs, where they will mature into adult worms.

  3. Blood Transfusions

    Another way that a dog can become infected with heartworm disease is through a blood transfusion. If the donor dog is infected, then the larvae can be passed through the blood transfusion into the recipient dog.

  4. Vertical Transmission

    Finally, heartworm disease can also be spread from mother to puppy through vertical transmission. This occurs when a pregnant female is infected and passes on the infection to her unborn puppies.

Overall, these are the four primary ways that a dog can become infected with heartworm disease. Heartworms in dogs can grow 4 to 12 inches long and, if left untreated, can cause permanent damage to a dog’s heart, lungs, and arteries. It is important to take the necessary precautions and treatments to ensure that your pet remains safe and healthy.

What are the Heartworm Symptoms in Dogs

Heartworm symptoms in dogs will vary depending on the age and size of your dog, as well as the severity of the infection. Let’s take a look at some of the common symptoms that may indicate heartworm disease in a dog:

  1. Minor cough

    This is one of the most common signs associated with heartworm disease, and it can often be confused with other respiratory issues. Dogs may present a dry cough or eventually develop a wet cough that produces mucus. This type of coughing usually increases in.

  2. Decreased activity

    As the infection progresses, a decrease in activity may be present. Dogs will also display signs of fatigue and tiredness more frequently than before. They may appear slower and less enthusiastic about activities they once enjoyed.

  3. Loss of appetite

    Another common symptom is reduced appetite or an inability to eat as much as normal. This can lead to weight loss over time, which can further worsen the condition. Dogs may also be very picky about what food they eat and may refuse to consume their normal meals.

  4. Heart failure

    In more serious cases, heart failure can result from a prolonged infection. This will cause difficulty breathing, increased coughing, and an increase in the heart rate as the body struggles to pump enough blood around the body. In extreme cases, this can lead to shock or sudden death.

  5. Muscle wasting

    Infected dogs may also experience muscle wasting over time as they struggle to recover from the infection. This is usually accompanied by a decrease in physical activity and an increase in fatigue levels.

  6. Anemia

    Anemia is a condition caused by an insufficient number of red blood cells. This can be caused by the damage that heartworms cause to the dog’s lungs, leading to a decrease in oxygen levels, which can result in fatigue and pale gums.

  7. Scar tissue in lungs

    Scarring of the lungs due to the damage caused by heartworms can cause difficulty breathing, reduced tolerance for exercise, and an increase in coughing.

  8. Fluid accumulation

    Fluid accumulation in the lungs and abdomen is another common symptom of heartworm disease. This can cause difficulty breathing, abdominal discomfort, and potential organ damage if left untreated.

By being aware of these symptoms, you can take steps to diagnose and treat your pet if they are affected by heartworm disease. Early detection is key to preventing irreversible damage from occurring. If you believe your dog may be exhibiting any of the above symptoms, contact a Safari Veterinary Care Centers specialist today for an assessment.

How Heartworm Diseases Spread

Heartworm disease is not transmitted directly from dog to dog but instead requires a mosquito as an intermediate host. The greatest risk of transmission occurs during the mosquito season when female mosquitos look for blood meals. During this time, mosquitos can pick up and transmit infective larvae (L3) that have been deposited into water by infected dogs. When a mosquito takes a meal from an infected animal, it can then deposit the larvae into other animals it feeds upon.

In addition, heartworms can also be spread through sexual contact between dogs. Additionally, humans can act as an intermediate host for immature stages of heartworms in a process that is known as paratransgenesis.

Although the risk of heartworm infection is highest during mosquito season, it only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to infect a dog. This means that prevention and testing should be done year-round in order to ensure that dogs are not exposed to the disease. By taking preventive measures such as using monthly preventives, having regular tests administered by your veterinarian, and keeping your pet indoors during peak mosquito season, you can help protect your dog from the risks of heartworm disease.

What is the Prevention of Heartworm

Heartworm prevention is a critical component of keeping your dog healthy and happy. Heartworm disease is caused by parasitic worms that live in the heart, lungs, and surrounding blood vessels of infected animals. Mosquitoes are responsible for spreading these parasites to dogs when they bite an infected animal and then transfer the larvae during subsequent bites on other animals. Let’s take a look at how to prevent heartworm disease in dogs.

  1. Limit your dog’s outdoor time

    One of the ways to prevent heartworm in dogs is to limit their outdoor time. Mosquitos spread heartworm larvae, so reducing mosquito exposure is a brilliant place to start. You can limit your dog’s outdoor time between dawn and dark when mosquitoes are most active.

  2. Reduce Areas with Standing Water

    In addition, reducing areas of standing water can assist, as this is where mosquitoes grow. Make sure to drain any standing water sources around your house, like birdbaths, child pools or even puddles of rainwater.

  3. Environmental Management

    Environmental management is crucial. You must collaborate with your veterinarian to develop a proactive medical preventative plan to protect your dog. For dogs, the American Heartworm Society recommends annual heartworm testing.

  4. Prevention Products

    If the test results in a negative result, your veterinarian will walk you through various preventive methods only available with a prescription. Monthly chewable pills, topical solutions, and an injectable medicine administered every 6 or 12 months are examples of preventives. Many heartworm preventives are primarily effective against heartworms, but others can also protect pets against worms, fleas, ticks, and mites. Veterinarians are usually aware of which parasites are prevalent in your area and may advise you on the preventative measures for your dog.

By following these four steps, you can help make sure that heartworm disease does not become an issue for your beloved pup. Talk to your veterinarian about developing a heartworm prevention plan for your pet. Prevention always beats cure and will help to keep your furry family member happy and healthy in the long run.

Relevant Questions

How long do dogs with heartworms live?

The lifespan of a dog in this condition is most likely limited to a few weeks or a few months. Your vet will guide you on the course of action for treating your dog, depending on the severity of their infection. Dogs can live for at least six to seven months after becoming infected with heartworms. However, some may experience longer lifespans if they receive proper treatment and care. Additionally, the age of the dog can also play a role in how long they may live with heartworms. Younger dogs tend to have better prognoses than older ones.

Can heartworm be cured?

Yes, heartworm can be cured. The treatment involves a combination of drugs that will kill the adult heartworms and their larvae. Your vet may recommend one or more injections of Immiticide or an oral medication to kill the worms. After treatment, your dog should receive monthly preventative medications to help keep him from getting infected again. Additionally, you may need to keep your dog on a strict exercise regimen to help his body heal from the damage caused by the worms. With proper treatment and care, your pup should make a full recovery.


In conclusion, heartworm disease in dogs is a serious and potentially deadly infection that can cause severe health problems if left untreated. As responsible pet owners, we must protect our canine companions from this disease by taking preventive measures to reduce the spread of the infection. By performing regular monthly heartworm tests at your local vet and administering recommended medications for prevention, you will be able to protect your furry friends from this dangerous disease and help them enjoy their lives for many years to come. At Safari Veterinary Care Centers, our experienced team of veterinarians are dedicated to providing quality care and preventive measures to ensure that your pet’s health needs are taken care of. So don’t wait any longer – contact us today for more information on what steps you should take today towards protecting your beloved dog from heartworms. It may just save their life!

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