Heartworm Prevention

April is Heartworm Awareness Month. This may not be the most pleasant topic to discuss, but it is a very important one. Heartworms are not only disgusting … they’re extremely dangerous. These parasites can make your beloved dog very sick, and can even be fatal. In this article, a local London, ON vet discusses heartworm basics, and offers you advice on keeping your furry buddy safe.

Life Cycle

You may have heard the old adage about ‘know thy enemy.’ This is definitely true with heartworms. It’s important to realize how heartworm infestations work. Dogs are not infected through direct contact with other dogs. Mosquitos actually transmit the worms from pooch to pooch, via infected blood. Once a dog is infested with heartworm larvae, it will take about 6 to 7 months for the worms to reach full size. At this point, they will start multiplying.

Warning Signs

Heartworms, as the name suggests, inhabit dogs’ hearts, lungs, and arteries. These are vital organs, so infestations are extremely dangerous. Coughing is often the first sign of a heartworm infestation. Other red flags include fatigue, shortness of breath, lethargy, weight loss, and a reluctance to run or play. If infestations are not treated, then they will eventually cause issues such as dizziness, fainting, heart attacks, seizure, and coma.


Fortunately, heartworms can be treated. However, the treatment isn’t much fun for poor Fido. The medicine that kills live worms is quite hard on dogs. You’ll also need to limit your pup’s movements during treatment. This can be hard, as our canine pals don’t understand why they can’t run or play. Severe infestations may require surgery, which can be quite expensive.


Protecting your furry friend from these dangerous parasites is quite simple. Just keep up with your pet’s preventative care products! Fido should be on parasite control all year round. Your vet will be able to offer you specific advice.

Heartworms In Cats

In case you were wondering, yes, kitties can get heartworms. Infestations play out differently in cats than they do in dogs, however. Our feline friends’ bodies aren’t as hospitable to worms as dogs’ bodies are, so worms usually die before reproducing. However, even a single adult worm can cause serious—and potentially life-threatening—health problems in cats. Keep Fluffy on preventative care!

Do you have questions about heartworms or heartworm prevention? Contact us, your local London, ON veterinary clinic, today!

Comments are closed.