7 Things You Need to Know About Heartworm

April is Heartworm Awareness Month! While heartworms may not be the most pleasant thing to read about, it is important to know what they are, and why they are so dangerous to your beloved pet. Read on as a London, ON vet lists some things you need to know about heartworms.

They’re Transmitted By Mosquitos

Dogs don’t get heartworms from other dogs. Instead, mosquitos transmit heartworm larvae from dog to dog via infected blood. Fido can contract heartworms almost anywhere, even in his own doggy bed. Your pet doesn’t even have to come into contact with other pooches to be infected.

They’re Undetectable At First

Since heartworms are in larval form when they first infest a dog, you won’t see any immediate symptoms. In fact, the worms can’t even be detected until about 5-6 months after infection.


Coughing is one of the earliest symptoms. Other signs of infestations include fatigue, weight loss, and shortness of breath.

Cats Get Them Too

Although dogs are the usual target for heartworms, cats can and do get infested. Kitties aren’t ideal hosts for these disgusting parasites, so they rarely have adult worms. However, it is still important to keep your feline pal safe by keeping up with her preventative care products.

They Can Be Deadly

As heartworms grow, they take up residence in dogs’ hearts, lungs, and arteries. This can be very dangerous, as the worms will interfere with Fido’s vital functions. Left untreated, infestations can cause heart attacks and, unfortunately, are often fatal.

Treatment Is Available, But Not Easy

Heartworm treatments can be costly, and can also be pretty tough on Man’s Best Bud. Fido may have to be kenneled to ensure that he doesn’t overexert himself. Your pup may also have to take some very powerful medications. In some cases, surgery may be required.

Protecting Pets Is Simple

Fortunately, all you have to do to keep your canine pal safe from heartworms is keep up with his preventative care products. There are now several types of heartworm medication available. However, since the medicines that prevent infestations don’t kill live worms, Fido may need to be tested before starting his parasite control regimen. Ask your vet for more information on heartworm prevention.

Does your furry friend need heartworm medication? Call us today! As your local London, ON pet hospital, we are here to help!

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