How Do Dogs Get Heartworm?
Heartworm is a serious disease caused by a parasitic worm called Dirofilaria immitis. These worms are spread to dogs through the bite of an infected mosquito. When a dog has heartworm, it is not contagious and cannot be spread by contact with other animals.
Inside a dog, a heartworm can live five to seven years and can grow anywhere from four to twelve inches long. Here are some signs of heartworm in dogs:
- Mild but persistent cough
- Reluctance to exercise
- Swollen belly
- Weight loss
If your veterinarian diagnoses your dog with heartworm, they will proceed with the treatment process accordingly. Most infected dogs can be treated successfully, so it's important to look out for the symptoms and catch the disease early on.
The best treatment for heartworm is prevention. There are plenty of FDA-approved heartworm prevention medications dogs can take topically or orally. Some also contain ingredients that prevent other intestinal worms and parasites from infecting your dog.