Heartworm prevention for dogs & heartworm treatment

If you own a dog, it is important to be aware of what heartworm is and the options for heartworm prevention.

Keep up to date with essential information on this potentially deadly parasite so you can keep your dog healthy and protected.

What is heartworm?

Heartworms in dogs earn their name because the adult worms live within your dog’s heart and associated blood vessels, where they can grow to more than 30 cm in length. Adult female heartworms produce heartworm larvae, more commonly called microfilariae, which circulate in the blood of an infected dog.

Heartworms have the potential to cause serious illness in your dog. There may be no symptoms of heartworm initially but as the disease progresses you may notice signs such as:

  • Coughing
  • Lethargy
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Weight loss
  • Trouble breathing
  • Enlarged abdomen

Always speak to your vet if you are concerned about any signs which develop.

How is heartworm in dogs spread?

Heartworms are transmitted from one dog to another by mosquitoes which pick up tiny heartworm larvae (microfilariae) in the blood when they bite an infested dog. The heartworm larvae develop in the mosquito and are transmitted when the infected mosquito bites another dog. The heartworm larvae then migrate through the dog’s tissue and circulatory system, eventually reaching the heart and lungs, where they grow and mature into adult heartworms.

heartworms in dogs
heartworms in dogs

Why is heartworm disease dangerous?

Heartworms may cause no clinical signs in the early stages of infestation. However, over time they can cause serious damage to the heart and lungs and dogs may develop heart failure which can be fatal.

Heartworm Prevention for Dogs

When it comes to protecting your dog from heartworm, prevention is better than cure. To protect against heartworm, as well as fleas, ticks, mites and intestinal worms, we recommend NexGard SPECTRA® for Dogs. For a combination dewormer that protects against heartworm, hookworm and roundworm, we suggest using HeartGard30® PLUS.

Heartworm treatment for dogs

While prevention is best, heartworm treatment is available for dogs that do contract the disease. If you suspect your dog has heartworm, it’s important to visit your vet as soon as possible. Symptoms of heartworm disease tend to arise quite late in an infestation, so it is important to act quickly if you suspect your dog has contracted heartworm. Your vet will administer medication to kill the adult worms and larvae which will require multiple visits.

Heartworm treatment cost

If a dog contracts heartworm, the cost of dog heartworm treatment can be hundreds or even thousands of dollars depending on the severity of the disease, and is not without risk. Using an effective heartworm prevention product is a far wiser approach.



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NEXGARD SPECTRA®, NEXGARD®, HEARTGARD30® and PARAGARD® are registered trademarks of the Boehringer Ingelheim Group.

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