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Dog Heartworm Misconceptions

Updated on April 23, 2014

Dog heartworm or heartworm disease in dogs has always been a major life-threatening issue. Because this disease is easily preventable, it is amazing that dog owners throughout the country have such a negligent attitude about it. This past year, the American Heartworm Society released a new study showing that heartworm disease throughout the fifty states has increased.

Dog Heartworm is easily preventable by giving a medication monthly. Why would anyone decide not to provide this treatment for their canine companion? A Heartworm preventative should be given every month. It is simple to give and comes in the form of Chewable tablets, topical ointments and flavortabs. If you fall in the category of pet owners who find it difficult to remember to give medications, you can sign up and receive monthly e-mails or post card reminders. Also, every package of heartworm medicine contains a sticker that you can put on your refrigerator or place in your calendar to help you remember

Dogs should get a blood test for heartworms once a year. This is recommended even if your dog is on the monthly preventative. Dogs that vomit their medication, doses that are accidently skipped and dogs who spit out their medications are all reasons why yearly tests are recommended.

There are many common misconceptions about heartworm in dogs.The major misconception is the lifespan of the heartworm. Heartworms have a very long life cycle, so it takes 6 to 8 months from the time the infection occurs before a dog will test positive.This can explain why a dog that tests negative who is given preventative every month for a year might test positive the next year.

Another common misconception is that indoor pets do not need to be given a monthly preventative. Even if your dog never leaves the house to go for a walk, play or go to the bathroom, it should still be on a preventative. Mosquitoes can and do get in the house. It only takes the bite of one infected mosquito to transmit heartworms.

If your dog has a huge or thick coat you might question the necessity of giving heartworm preventative. Do not underestimate the non-stop efforts of mosquitoes. They will find a way to get a vampires' meal through any thick coat.

A very careless excuse that people will give for not using heartworm preventative is that they have had dogs for years and they never got the disease before. You could probably let your dog run loose in your yard without a fence for many years without him ever running away, but is that really a good idea?

One major misconception is that heartworm can only infect dogs. It can infect cats and many other species as well. Heartworm disease of cats poses some major problems. Cats have more serious symptoms than dogs and can even die very quickly when a heartworm dies within their body.

Dog heartworm disease should be taken very seriously, and a minimal precaution of taking a preventative is necessary.

Heartworm Disease in Pets

Dog Heartworm Info


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    • Angelllite profile image


      8 years ago from United States

      I wonder why NO vet has ever warned me about cats and heartworm. I belong to the Trap, Neuter, Return Program for feral cats here in Plumsted Twp. NJ. Now I know where to go for good, solid advise on healthcare for pets. Thanks!

    • hglick profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Ronkonkoma, NY

      Dink96 - Thank You for your comment. The calendar sticker method is absolutely the best method to use, especially for the short memory people like myself LOL

    • Dink96 profile image


      9 years ago from Phoenix, AZ

      An important reminder for us dog owners especially during these summer months.  I utilize the stickers on the calendar method as a reminder of when the next dose is due.  One would think we don't have mosquitoes in Phoenix, but we do!  Thank you for this information.


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