Call Toll Free 1-888-798-9128

How do Dogs get Hearworms

How do Dogs get Hearworms

Once a dog owner becomes aware of what heartworms are, and what they're capable of, they quickly take up top spot on the list of enemies that those owners will do whatever's necessary to keep them away from their precious pet. In the case of heartworms, that's not so easily done and related to the question of how do dogs get heartworms. When you find out that they get them from mosquito bites it becomes clear why preventing exposure is pretty much impossible. You're not about keep your dog indoors every day all summer long, are you?

Buy Heartworm Meds Without Vet Prescription

Buy Frontline Plus
Buy Heartgard Plus
Buy Advantage Multi
Buy Nuheart


That’s the long and short of how dogs get heartworms – mosquito bites. With the understanding that you can’t ensure your dog won’t get bit, it becomes a situation where you can only hope that none of the mosquitos that end up biting your dog are carrying heartworm microfilariae. Most dog owners won’t like those odds and so the best treatments for dogs with heartworms is to take a heartworm prevention medication for dogs on a month-to-month basis to stop them from ever being able to establish themselves.

It’s best to look at this with a deeper perspective than simply understanding how do dogs get heartworm. Let’s have a look at the way heartworms take effect in a dog’s body, the symptoms of heartworms in dogs that can tip owners off to their pet being infected, what tests are used by veterinarians to make heartworms diagnoses, and – perhaps most importantly – which pharmaceutical products make up the best treatments for dogs with heartworm.

Most Common Ways Dogs Get Heartworms

Again, there’s only one way a dog can get heartworms and that’s from the bite of a mosquito carrying heartworm microfilariae. Can heartworms be passed by pet-to-pet contact? No, that’s not possible and mosquito bites are the only way. Following the bite, what happens is the microfilariae travel through the dog’s bloodstream and into its heart. Juvenile heartworm parasites can complete their entire life cycle inside the dog’s chest cavity, and the prospect of that is of course going to sound horrific to dog owners.

As the worms come to maturity, they move to their final destination – the dog’s heart, lungs, and associated blood vessels. The fact that they’re able to grow up to 12” long and that a dog can be infected with hundreds of them at once highlights the extent of the problem heartworms can be.

Symptoms of Heartworms in Dogs

It is helpful know how do dogs get heartworms, and being able to identify the symptoms. However, it’s also very important to know that seeing heartworm symptoms often means the infection is already at an advanced stage. It’s for this reason that ongoing prevention with monthly heartworm medications is so important, but more on that to come. Heartworm symptoms in dogs include:

  • A soft, dry cough
  • Inactivity or lethargy
  • Weight loss or anorexia
  • Rapid or difficult breathing
  • Bulging chest
  • Allergic reaction
  • In severe or pronounced cases, collapse

Testing for Heartworms in Dogs

Veterinarians will most commonly test for heartworms in dogs by giving a heartworm antigen test. They are also able to test for heartworm microfilariae being present in the blood. In addition, the vets may also choose to do a complete blood cell count, blood chemistry tests, a urinalysis, or a chest x-ray. In instances where a moderate to severe case of heartworm infestation is suspected then they may use an echocardiogram to get a firm picture of the extent of the infection.

Heartworm Precautions

Restricting a dog’s exercise or strenuous physical activity is often necessary as they begin a treatment for heartworms. That’s quite straightforward given the fact that the heart will be weakened and underpowered due to the parasites. Understanding the need for these precautions is good to know in addition to how do dogs get heartworms. Other rehabilitation needs that go along with heartworm treatments at times are stabilization therapy, the use of oral prednisone and doxycycline to counter any toxic reaction to dying worms.

Some dogs may also need veterinary hospitalization during the early stages of their recovery if they have a severe heartworm infestation. This can be for any number of reasons. Open-heart surgery to physically remove the worms from the dog does occur, but it is rare and lower survival rates for dogs having this procedure make it unappealing for all involved.

Best Treatments for Dogs with Heartworms

As state, the universal consensus among veterinarians and informed dog owners is that the best treatments for dogs with heartworms is to take the preventative approach and administer an anti-heartworm medication every month and all through the year. One of the most reputable ones in America is Heartgard Plus. It contains a pair of proven parasiticide (parasite-killing) ingredients, Ivermectin and Pyrantel, that are also able to kill hookworms and roundworms too. Plus, it’s beef flavored to make it much more appetizing for your dog.

The same can be said for Nuheart. It’s for heartworms only, but it gets very favorable consumer reviews and it’s designed for easier dosing and less rejection. Nuheart is just like Heartgard Plus and other effective heartworm medications in that it needs to be taken every month to ensure 100% protection against heartworms. Another plus for this medication is that it’s easy to determine which dosage variety is best for your size of dog by just glancing at the front of the packaging.

Buy Heartworm Meds Without Vet Prescription

Buy Frontline Plus
Buy Heartgard Plus
Buy Advantage Multi
Buy Nuheart


The last of the good heartworm medications for dogs that we’ll highlight here is Revolution Plus. It’s different in that its primary function is a flea and tick medication for dogs, but it also works to kill heartworms, hookworms, and roundworms. The hit list doesn’t end there though; Revolution Plus also works to eliminate ear mites and scabies mites that cause mange. Again, it’s taken monthly and for dog owners who want a fairly all-in-one medication for dog parasites then Revolution Plus is an excellent choice.

For any Inquiries or to Purchase over the phone Call Toll Free: 1-888-798-9128



Related Blogs