Tips & Information

Everything you need to know about heartworms

Written by

Pam Hardman


Published on: Apr 12, 2019

Everything you need to know about heartworms

Each year as temperatures rise, so does the risk for dangerous parasites like heartworms. It’s almost heartworm season and probably time for your dog to have his or her spring checkup. Here’s what you need to know.

What are heartworms?

Heartworms are dangerous parasites that can be fatal if they go untreated. They’re spread by mosquitoes and are passed along into the bloodstream. They can travel to your dog’s heart where they grow and reproduce and can cause a blockage in the arteries. Heartworms can grow as big as 15-30cm in length and in severe cases, a dog can be infested with hundreds of them.

If your dog has heartworms, she may be coughing or having difficulty exercising. More serious signs include congestive heart failure, anemia, weakness, and collapse. If you notice any of these signs or symptoms, make an appointment with your vet right away.

How you can protect against heartworms

  • Monthly medication. Your vet can recommend a monthly medication you can administer at home, usually from June-November. Many medications come in tasty chewable tablet form, making them really easy to give your dog. Mark the calendar or set a reminder on your phone to make sure you don’t miss a dose!  

  • Have your pet tested. It can be harmful to give a dog already infected with heartworms a preventative medication. It’s a good idea to have your dog tested for heartworm disease in the spring, before heartworm seasons begins. Even if you’ve used preventative medication in the past, testing is still important as no medication can be 100% guaranteed.

  • Cats can be at risk too. Although heartworm disease is much more likely to affect dogs, it can still cause problems in cats. If you’re a cat owner, you can give preventative medication for cats too, especially if your cat spends time outdoors.  

How is heartworm disease treated?

There are treatments available for pets infected with heartworm disease; both medical and surgical however, treatment can be expensive, invasive and can even pose their own risks. It’s much easier and less costly to give your pet preventative medication.

Pet insurance can help with the cost of heartworm prevention

Our Secure 4 plan includes wellness coverage that can help cover the cost of yearly checkups and preventative heartworm medication. Learn what’s covered by Petsecure and get a free quote today.

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