Dog Health: What You Need to Know About Heartworm Prevention


If you own a dog, it’s likely that you know a thing or two about heartworms.

In fact, every time you take your dog into the vet for a yearly check up, you probably see posters plastered all over the office about heartworm medications and prevention.

Why is this such a big deal? Easy…

Over 250,000 dogs get diagnosed with heartworms every year. And when left untreated, these parasites cause pup’s to suffer from a long, agonizing death.

I don’t mean to sound so grim. But, I also believe the health and wellbeing of your dog is so important, that I wouldn’t be doing this post justice if we didn’t dive into the devastating reality of what happens when people neglect to properly medicate their dog’s against an issue that is 100% preventable.

What are heartworms, how do you prevent them, and what’s the outlook look like for a dog who is diagnosed with heartworms? Keep reading to find out everything you need to know…

What Are Heartworms?

Just like the name suggests, heartworms are a type of parasitic roundworm.

Dog’s are natural hosts to these worms, which live in the heart and lungs of canines. These worms can grow up to a footlong.

Overtime, heartworms reproduce causing blockages in your dog’s heart valves using your pup's body as a home to feed, breed, thrive.

How Do Dogs Get Heartworms?

Heartworms are spread through mosquito bites, making it impossible to keep your dog 100% safe from contracting them…even if your dog spends most of his/her time inside.

All it takes is one bite from a mosquito that is a host to heartworm larvae for your dog to become infected.

Dog’s who live near bodies of water are more prone to contracting heartworm disease. However, there’s really nowhere in the world that is immune to mosquitos, making getting bitten a risk for all dog’s around the world.

Regions of the World Where Heartworms are Most Commonly Found

Heartworms are a living organism. Therefore there are parts of the world where they tend to thrive, and other parts of the world where they are not as big of a problem.

For the most part, heartworm disease is most prevalent in tropical and temperate regions of the world. Its highest known prevalence is in the USA, South America, Japan, Australia and Italy.

If you are living in the USA, heartworm disease is most common along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts from the Gulf of Mexico to New Jersey and along the Mississippi River and its major tributaries.

This being said, heartworms can be found all over the world which means–unless you live somewhere like Antarctica–your dog is at risk and it’s probably a good idea to take preventative measures to ensure your dog doesn’t get infected!

The Best Method for Heartworm Prevention

Heartworm disease is a painful, devastating, and sometimes fatal diagnosis for dogs. But here’s the good news…

Heartworms are 100% preventable.

The even better news…

It is both easy AND inexpensive to ensure your dog gets the treatment they need to stay healthy.

The best way to ensure your dog never ends up with heartworms is to give him/her a heartworm prevention pill every month (some brands offer pills that last 3 months at a time!).

Your vet can prescribe your pup a pill, or you can find heartworm prevention medication at your local pet store.

It typically doesn’t cost more than $30-$80 US dollars every few months (depending on the size of your dog) to keep your pup protected, so it’s very affordable.

If you’re struggling financially, please let your vet know. It’s possible that you might qualify for payment plans or product discounts as many vets would prefer to see dog’s protected instead of coming into the office with heartworm disease.

Heartwork Diagnoses Outlook: Is There Hope for Your Dog?

What happens if you…

  • Weren’t aware of heartworm disease/never medicated your dog?
  • Rescue a dog with heartworm?
  • Find out our pup has heartworm, regardless of using medication (HIGHLY unlikely!)?

We’ve mentioned a few times that heartworm disease is a devastating sometimes fatal diagnosis. While this is true, we don’t want you to lose hope.

When heartworm is caught in the early stages, it’s very possible for your pup to make a full recovery. In fact, people who work in shelter’s often bring in dog’s who test positive for heartworm, and many end up going on to live happy, healthy lives once treated.

Your vet can work with you to put together a treatment plan for your dog. However, please understand that treating heartworm is a very long, and costly process.

General treatment is often around $1,000 US dollars. And that doesn’t account for overnight vet care or anything else your dog might need depending on the stage of heartworm disease he/she is facing.

If the heartworm disease has progressed too far and your dog is suffering, your vet might discuss end of life care and putting your dog to rest. While this isn’t an easy decision, it’s your job as a responsible dog owner to make the best decision on behalf of your dog who is suffering.

Investing In Your Dog’s Health

A small investment in your dog’s health today can save you from a lot of expenses and having to make difficult decisions in the future.

Above all, your dog deserves a healthy, happy life. I promise, making the decision to purchase heartworm medication over special toys and treats is the best gift you can give your dog!

And don’t forget…

The same philosophy applies to dog training! Making an investment in your dog’s training now will help ensure that your dog lives a safe, happy, and stress-free life.

If you’re struggling with dog training or simply haven’t found a program that works for you, I invite you to check out my program, The Dog Calming Code.

Learn more about The Dog Calming Code here!


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~Doggy Dan 🙂

Doggy Dan

Doggy Dan is the founder of The Online Dog Trainer, a wildly successful online training program for dog owners. His goal is to continue to share his unique approach to dog training with like-minded people who wish to make a difference in the world of dogs. His training methods focus on creating and building the connection between dogs and dog owners, and are shared and used around the world.

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