An Introduction To Heartworm Disease in Pets

Dirofilaria immitis

Dirofilaria immitis, the parasite causing heartworm disease in pets found safe breeding ground in the heart, lungs and blood vessels of the affected species. It spreads from one host to another through the bite of the mosquito. Though found commonly in dogs, it has not spared cats, wolves, jackals and under rare circumstances, the Homo sapiens.

Mosquitoes play an important role in the spreading of the heartworm disease from one host to another. First, they infect themselves with an immature worm called microfilariae, when they bite an infected animal. This tiny worm turned into a larva inside the mosquito. Now, the same infected mosquito bites to transmit the larva into the body of another animal.

Heartworms if not checked, can prove fatal to dogs. An adult worm present in canine can block the various blood vessels leading from the heart to the lungs. In severe cases, it can cause heart failure and damage to other organs in the body.

Heartworm Signs

In the earlier stages of the disease, the pet would show no symptoms at all. Later the symptoms will appear as-

  • Persistent coughing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Reluctance to physical activity


As a pet parent, make a rule to ensure regular blood test of your furry pal. An annual heartworm check-up is must in this regard to check the presence of heartworms in your pet.

Along with this, make sure that your canine is less accessible to mosquitoes. Preventives such as Heartgard Plus, Revolution, Advantage Multi, Interceptor, and Sentinel Spectrum will ensure the safety of your pet’s heart throughout the season.

Prevention Vs Treatment

A pet parent has to be vigilant to guard his pet against the possible threat of heartworms. Regular vet visits and use of heartworm preventives will ensure the complete well-being of your pet.

This becomes even more important when treatment to this menace can prove to be fatal to your pet’s life. The use of arsenic containing compounds or in severe cases, opting for surgery may have implications, which are not so positive in nature.

A Word Of Advice

Heartworm in pets particularly in dogs is not a healthy condition to live with. As a responsible pet parent, do not let this disease to grip your pet. Use heartworm preventives for your pet and visit vet regularly.