Facts About Heartworms
Facts About Heartworms

Heartworm disease is very common in the Southern United States and anywhere where mosquitoes live. Ensure that you know the facts about heartworms and protect your pet.


How do dogs get heartworm disease?

Dogs contract heartworms when bitten by a carrier mosquito. A single bite from an infected mosquito can infect the dog, which becomes a new carrier of the disease.


My dog looks healthy. Does that mean that he doesn’t have heartworms?

Dogs can be infected with heartworms long before they show any signs of the possibly fatal disease. Heartworms live and develop in the dog’s heart, and end up strangling it. Medical treatment for heartworm disease can cost between $500 to $2,000!


If I buy worm medicine at the store and administer it to my dog, is that enough to eliminate or stop heartworms?

No. Heartworms can be caused from a single bite from an infected mosquito. They live in the blood vessels where they can cause lung disease, heart failure and other organ damage. It is important that you give your pet a monthly heartworm preventative that can only be purchased through a licensed veterinarian to prevent these worms from developing in your pet. Many of the heartworm preventatives are also effective in eliminating intestinal parasites, however, intestinal parasite dewormers will not prevent heartworm disease.


How can I prevent my dog from contracting heartworms?

The only way to prevent heartworm disease is by giving your dog heartworm prevention medicine, which must be acquired from a licensed veterinarian. Prevention can range in cost from $10-$30 a month or you can get a 6- or 12-month package that is more cost effective. Some brands prevent heartworms and fleas as well. Most preventatives are given once a month and it is imperative that you keep your pet on prevention all 12 months of the year.


How do I know if my dog has heartworms?

You will need to have a heartworm test performed annually and your pet must test negative in order to keep them on prevention. Heartworms are detected 5-7 months after your pet is infected.


My dog is always indoors. Does that mean that he is not at risk of contracting heartworm disease?

Even if your dog never goes outside, a mosquito can enter your house and bite your dog, so there is no guarantee of protection — even if your dog is always indoors.


Heartworms can kill your pet! LifeLine Animal Project offers heartworm testing during spay/neuter surgeries at our LifeLine Spay & Neuter Clinics as well as at our Pet Wellness Vaccine Clinics. Don’t delay, have your dog tested today!


Heartworm Life Cycle




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Founded in 2002 and now managing DeKalb and Fulton County Animal Services, LifeLine Animal Project is the leading non-profit organization working to end the euthanasia of healthy and treatable dogs and cats in metro Atlanta shelters. Together, we will make Atlanta a no-kill community.

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