Heartworm In Puppies – Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

Puppies and dogs of all ages are at risk of heartworm disease which can be fatal if left undiagnosed or untreated.

Cute puppy sleeping on a sweater.
Cute puppy sleeping on sweater.

How do puppies and dogs get heartworm?

Heartworm is transmitted between dogs by mosquitoes. Although heartworm disease is most commonly diagnosed in regions where mosquitoes are more prevalent, cases can occur in nearly all parts of Australia.

At what age can a puppy get heartworm?

Even very young puppies can be bitten by mosquitoes which means they are at risk of heartworm, so it’s important to start heartworm prevention early (typically from 8 weeks of age).

Heartworm in puppies symptoms

Although young puppies can be infected with heartworm from the bite of a mosquito, signs of disease do not occur until the worms mature which takes at least 6 months. For that reason, heartworm disease is not seen in puppies less than 6 months of age, although they may still be infected. As the disease progresses, increasingly severe signs may be seen. Potential signs of heartworm disease include:

  • Coughing
  • Lethargy and exercise intolerance
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Weight loss
  • Enlarged abdomen

How serious is heartworm in puppies?

Heartworm disease can be serious and potentially fatal and so prompt diagnosis and treatment is very important.

Treatment of heartworm

If you suspect that your dog may have heartworm, it is advisable to seek veterinary attention immediately for testing and, if necessary, treatment. Treatment of a heartworm infection requires medications prescribed by a veterinarian and comes with some risks, so using heartworm prevention is critical. It is important to note that medications used to prevent heartworm disease do not treat existing infections.

Can a puppy recover from heartworm?

Most dogs will recover from heartworm disease if they receive the correct treatment from a veterinarian. Treatment can be expensive and comes with some risks and so using heartworm prevention is very important.

Heartworm prevention for puppies

Preventative heartworm medication for puppies is available over the counter in Australia (e.g., heartworm tablets for puppies). NexGard SPECTRA® for Dogs can be used in puppies from 8 weeks of age and 1.35 kg body weight. It provides heartworm prevention in addition to protection against fleas, ticks, mites and intestinal worms, all in one tasty, monthly chew.

FAQs

  • At what age can a puppy get heartworms?

    Even very young puppies can be bitten by mosquitoes which means they are at risk of heartworm, so it’s important to start heartworm prevention early (typically from 8 weeks of age).

  • How common is heartworm in puppies?

    Although young puppies can be infected with heartworm from the bite of a mosquito, signs of disease do not occur until the worms mature which takes at least 6 months. For that reason, heartworm disease is not seen in puppies less than 6 months of age, although they may still be infected.

  • Can puppy heartworm affect humans?

    Cases of heartworm in humans are extremely rare and occur when a person is bitten by an infected mosquito, not from contact with an infected dog.

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