Heartworms in Dogs: Myths and Facts

If you think that something called “heartworm” sounds dangerous, you’re completely right. If untreated, heartworms can lead to serious health issues and problems with your pup’s major organs, and sometimes even lead to death. Basically, a dog infected with heartworm disease is in risk of having heartworms living in its blood vessels and heart. A dog can be infected with mosquito bites. If a mosquito bites an already infected dog, it can transfer heartworm larvae into the blood system of the next dog it bites.

dog with heartworms

What actually happens?

Heartworm disease spreads as soon as the mosquito bites an infected dog. When mosquito gets blood with heartworm larvae into its system, the larvae start to develop into the so-called infective stage. That way, once the mosquito in question bites another dog, the larvae are ready to infect the blood system of the unfortunate dog as soon as possible. If the condition remains untreated, the larvae will continue to grow inside the poor canine, which can then cause major complications. Namely, they can reach the heart and the lungs.

Myths and facts about heartworms

Indoor dogs are safe

This is one of the most dangerous misconceptions in regards to heartworm disease since it can make the owner believe that their dog doesn’t need effective heartworm prevention. Even though you may not allow your dog to go outside, you can’t really be 100% sure that one mosquito carrying the larvae can’t find its way into your home.

The disease is localized

Another dangerous assumption is that heartworm disease is localized. However, regardless of where you live in the world, there’s a chance of your dog getting infected. Therefore, don’t put your pup in danger when all you need to do is use a proper preventive in consultation with your vet.

To treat is the same as to prevent

If you want to get a dog, or you already have one but you’ve never felt the need to administer a heartworm preventive, seek help from your vet as soon as possible. Preventive measures are easier for both you and your pet, not to mention cheaper. Don’t fool yourself thinking that an adequate heartworm treatment for dogs is going to be as effortless and smooth as a preventive measure. Remember, once it’s time for the treatment, the heartworms are already in the blood system and even the heart and lungs! The treatment is going to be a lot more difficult and unpleasant, as well as expensive.

sad dog with heartworms

Standard heartworm preventive

So, what should you do to prevent this heinous disease from infecting your dog? First of all, the safest way to go about this is to get in touch with your vet and ask for the FDA-approved preventive drug for this particular disease. Unfortunately, some dogs may not be able to take this chemical drug or can react to it poorly. In this case, your best option is to look into natural alternatives. There are plenty of them on the market. However, even though they are the second best option available, these natural preventives are not guaranteed to work 100% effectively. If your dog reacts fine to the chemical preventive drug, you should always go with that option.

In some cases, infected dogs don’t show any signs of heartworm disease. However, this is very rare. Usually, the symptoms include lower appetite, listless behavior and fast weight loss. The dogs may also cough or have a swollen belly. Therefore, make sure to monitor your pet carefully and check their health and overall condition as a part of a regular, routine care.

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