Posted on Leave a comment

How do dogs get heartworms?

Last Updated on May 28, 2023


sick dog

Heartworm is a severe disease affecting dogs of any age and breed. As a responsible dog owner, it’s essential to understand how dogs get heartworms and what you can do to prevent it. In this blog post, we will explore how dogs can contract the disease, including the transmission of heartworms through mosquito bites.

We will also discuss the symptoms of heartworms and how to detect them in their early stages. Early detection is crucial in preventing it from causing permanent damage to your dog’s heart, lungs, and blood vessels. Additionally, we will provide practical tips for avoiding heartworms, such as using preventative medication and limiting outdoor exposure during peak mosquito season.

Taking proactive steps to prevent heartworms can help protect your furry friend and ensure they live a long and healthy life. So, let’s dive into the topic of ‘how do dogs get heartworms’ and learn more about this severe and potentially life-threatening condition.

Listen to this article below.

What is a Heartworm?

Heartworms are a severe parasitic disease affecting dogs, cats, and other mammals. These worms are transmitted through the bites of infected mosquitoes and can grow up to a foot long in their hosts’ hearts, lungs, and blood vessels.

The symptoms can be subtle at first, but they can quickly escalate and cause severe damage to the heart and lungs. Common signs include coughing, fatigue, weight loss, and difficulty breathing.

Prevention is vital for this disease, as treatment can be difficult and costly. Regular testing and preventative medications can help protect infected pets from this dangerous disease.

How Do Dogs Get Heartworms?

Heartworm is a potentially fatal condition affecting dogs of all ages and breeds. But how do dogs get affected in the first place?

When the infected mosquito bites another dog, it can transfer these infective larvae into the new host. Once inside the new host, the larvae migrate to the heart and lungs, where they can grow up to 12 inches long and cause severe damage.

It’s important to note that the disease is not contagious and cannot be spread directly from dog to dog. However, dogs living in areas with a high prevalence of heartworms are at greater risk of being bitten by infected mosquitoes and contracting the disease.

Fortunately, this disease is preventable. Using preventative medication, such as monthly heartworm preventatives, can significantly reduce your dog’s risk of contracting the disease. Taking proactive steps to prevent heartworms can help protect your furry friend and ensure they live a long and healthy life. 

dog cuddling

Prevention is Key

Preventing heartworms is much easier than treating them. Dog owners can take several preventative measures to reduce their pet’s risk of contracting this severe disease.

  1. Use preventative medication– There are several medications available that can prevent heartworm infection. These medications are typically given monthly and can be prescribed by your veterinarian.
  2. Limit outdoor exposure– Limiting your dog’s outdoor exposure during peak mosquito season (typically spring and summer) can reduce its risk of being bitten. You can use chew toys to make the stay entertaining for your dog at home. 
  3. Eliminate standing water– Mosquitoes breed in standing water, so removing any sources of standing water in your yard can reduce the mosquito population.
  4. Use mosquito repellent– Several mosquito repellents, including sprays, collars, and topical treatments, are available for dogs. These products can help reduce the number of mosquito bites your dog receives.
  5. Regular veterinary check-ups– Regular check-ups with your veterinarian can help detect heartworms early, making them easier to treat.

Symptoms of Heartworms

The symptoms of heartworms in dogs can vary depending on the severity of the infection. In the early stages, there may be no visible symptoms, making it essential to have your dog tested regularly. As the infection progresses, the following symptoms may become more noticeable:

  1. Coughing: heartworms can cause a persistent cough, which may be accompanied by wheezing or gagging.
  2. Fatigue: Dogs with heartworms may tire more easily, even after mild exercise.
  3. Weight Loss: Heartworms can cause a loss of appetite and subsequent weight loss.
  4. Difficulty Breathing: As the infection progresses, dogs may experience difficulty breathing due to lung damage.
  5. Swollen Belly: In some cases, dogs with heartworms may develop a swollen belly due to fluid buildup.
  6. Collapse: In severe cases, dogs with this infection may collapse due to the strain on their heart and lungs.

It’s important to note that not all dogs with heartworms will exhibit these symptoms. Additionally, some dogs may only show signs once the infection has reached an advanced stage. If you suspect that your dog is affected, it’s essential to seek veterinary care immediately. Early detection and treatment can prevent severe complications and potentially save your dog’s life.

dog running


Understanding how dogs get heartworms is crucial for preventing this potentially fatal condition. By taking preventative measures, such as using preventative medication and limiting outdoor exposure during extreme mosquito season, you can help protect your furry friend. Additionally, recognizing the symptoms of heartworms and seeking prompt veterinary care can make all the difference in your dog’s health and well-being.

We hope this blog post has provided valuable information on how dogs get heartworms and how to prevent them. Remember, prevention is critical when it comes to this disease, and taking proactive steps to protect your dog can ensure that they live a long and healthy life. If you suspect your dog may is affected, consult your veterinarian immediately. Together, we can keep our furry friends safe and healthy. 


Oh hi there 👋
It’s nice to meet you.

Sign up to receive awesome content in your inbox, every month.

We don’t spam. Unsubscribe any time.

Sharing is caring!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *