The Truth About Heartworm: How to Protect Your Dog from This Deadly Parasite

Heartworm is a small, thread-like parasitic roundworm that could threaten the life of your furry companion. It is transmitted through the bite of a mosquito infected with the heartworm larvae and will gradually wreak havoc on your pet’s health. Symptoms of infection don’t typically show until the later stages when the worms grow, making them formidable foes.

While medications exist for this disease, prevention remains a better option. Here are a few ways you could protect your dog from this deadly parasite.


Give Your Dog Preventative Medicine


Heartworm is prevalent in the United States, with cases reported in 50 states. If mosquitoes are around, your dog can also be at risk for this disease.

Fortunately, there are many FDA-approved medicines formulated to prevent heartworms in dogs. They come in pills, topical treatments, or injections. You need to get a prescription from your vet to purchase any of these products.

Prescription is necessary because giving these medications to dogs with existing heartworms can do more harm than good. The parasites in your dog’s bloodstream can suddenly die. It can trigger a shock-like reaction and maybe the death of your pet.

When giving your dog preventive medication, be consistent. It’s one of the ways to protect your pet. Also, check the medication carefully and ensure it is for preventing heartworm. There are countless parasite protection products in the market that many assume are for preventing heartworms but are actually for protection from mites and ticks.


Have Your Dog Tested for Heartworm Yearly


Heartworm tests are simple blood tests that can be done at your veterinarian’s office. Larvae heartworm grows into a mature adult heartworm within 6 or 7 months. The test can detect the presence of heartworm proteins released by adult heartworm in your dog’s bloodstream, even if there are no outward signs of the disease.

Mature heartworms can live in a dog’s body for up to seven years, so it is crucial to schedule annual testing, even if you give your dog heartworm-preventative medicines. Testing your dog for heartworms every year allows for early detection and treatment of the disease.


Keep Your Property Mosquito-Free


Getting rid of the carriers of parasites – in this case, a mosquito – is one of the best ways to protect your dog from the disease. Mosquitos thrive and breed in stagnant water, no matter how small the amount is. So, check the flowerpots, rain gutters, empty containers, or low-lying areas in your yard for still water. If there is any, get rid of it.

Insecticide spray may also help deter mosquitoes or bugs – just make sure to use a pet-friendly product.




Heartworm is a dangerous parasitic roundworm that can threaten the health and life of your furry friend. While there are treatments available, prevention is key.

Giving your dog preventive medication, annual testing, and keeping your property mosquito-free are effective ways to protect your pet from this deadly disease. Remember to always consult with your veterinarian and be consistent with prevention methods to ensure the health and happiness of your dog.

For more on heartworm prevention, contact Brekke Veterinary. Visit our offices in Castle Pines or Castle Rock, Colorado. To set up an appointment, call (303) 474-4260 or text 720-790-5095 or 720-782-6144.

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Castle Rock, CO 80104 720-464-3525 720-790-5095 720-782-6144