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As a devoted pet parent, ensuring the well-being of your canine companion is a top priority. One of the most significant threats to your dog’s health is heartworm disease, a potentially fatal condition caused by parasitic worms that reside in the heart and pulmonary arteries of dogs.

Recognizing the symptoms of heartworm disease and understanding the progression of the illness is crucial for early intervention and effective treatment. By familiarizing yourself with the stage-wise symptoms, from the initial subtle signs to the more advanced and severe manifestations, you can take proactive measures to safeguard your dog’s health.

Additionally, being informed about the steps to take after a heartworm diagnosis, including treatment options and preventive measures, is essential for providing the best possible care for your beloved pet. Exploring heartworm-related products and preventive treatments can aid in protecting your dog from this insidious disease.

In this blog, we will delve into the comprehensive spectrum of heartworm symptoms, the necessary actions to take upon diagnosis, and the popular heartworm preventive products, along with addressing frequently asked questions to empower you as a vigilant and responsible dog parent.

Starting Stage

what are the first signs of heartworms in dogs

1. Mild Persistent Cough

Dogs with heartworm disease may develop a mild, persistent cough as the worms begin to affect the lungs. This cough may not initially seem severe but can be a sign of the presence of heartworms.

2. Reluctance to Exercise

Infected dogs may show a decreased interest in physical activity or may tire more easily during exercise due to the strain on their cardiovascular system.

3. Fatigue after Moderate Activity

Dogs may exhibit signs of fatigue or exhaustion after engaging in moderate physical activity, such as a walk or playtime.

4. Decreased Appetite

Some infected dogs may experience a decrease in appetite, leading to a reduction in food intake.


symptoms of mid-stage heartworms in dogs

1. More Severe Cough

As the disease progresses, the cough may become more severe and frequent, often accompanied by other respiratory symptoms.

2. Weight Loss

Infected dogs may experience unexplained weight loss despite maintaining a regular diet, as the presence of heartworms can place a significant strain on the body.

3. Difficulty Breathing

Dogs may exhibit signs of labored breathing, shortness of breath, or rapid breathing due to the impact of heartworms on the cardiovascular and respiratory systems.

4. Bulging Chest

In some cases, the chest of an infected dog may appear to bulge outward due to the strain on the heart and lungs.

5. Allergic Reaction

Some dogs may develop allergic reactions to the presence of heartworms, leading to symptoms such as itching, hives, or other skin issues.

6. Fainting Spells

In severe cases, dogs may experience fainting spells or collapse due to the strain on their cardiovascular system.

Late Stage

symptoms of late-stage heartworms in dogs

1. Severe Weight Loss

Dogs in the late stage of heartworm disease may experience extreme and rapid weight loss, often accompanied by muscle wasting and weakness.

2. Extreme Fatigue

Infected dogs may exhibit signs of extreme fatigue, lethargy, and overall weakness as the disease progresses.

3. Swollen Abdomen

Some dogs may develop a swollen or distended abdomen due to fluid accumulation, a condition known as ascites, as a result of heart failure.

4. Cardiovascular Collapse

In the most severe cases, dogs may experience cardiovascular collapse, characterized by a sudden and severe decline in heart function.

5. Fatality

If left untreated, heartworm disease can be fatal, leading to the death of the infected dog.

It’s important to note that these symptoms can vary in severity and may not be present in all infected dogs. If you notice any of these signs in your dog, it’s crucial to seek veterinary care promptly for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Safeguard Your Dog with Heartworm Preventive Products

Prevention is key when it comes to heartworm disease. There are several effective heartworm preventives available, including monthly oral tablets/chews, topical treatments, and injectable products. These products are designed to protect your dog from heartworm infection and are available through veterinary clinics and online retailers. It’s important to discuss the best preventive option for your dog with your veterinarian.

Heartgard Plus and Valuheart are two highly effective and most popular heartworm preventive products among pet parents and veterinarians that can help safeguard your dog’s health.

Heartgard Plus (ivermectin/pyrantel)

Heartgard Plus: The Smart Choice for Heartworm Prevention

This monthly oral medication not only prevents heartworm disease but also treats and controls roundworms and hookworms, providing comprehensive protection for your canine companion. Its palatable flavor makes it easy to administer, and its proven efficacy makes it a trusted choice among veterinarians and pet parents alike.


  • More than 30 years of proven heartworm protection
  • Trusted and recommended by vets around the world
  • Real-beef flavored, easy dosing and enjoyable chew for dogs
  • Additional protection against roundworms and hookworms
  • Protects against heartworm disease in dogs from 6 weeks of age

Valuheart (ivermectin)

Valuheart monthly heartworm preventive

Valuheart is an affordable yet reliable monthly heartworm preventive that offers cost-effective protection against heartworm disease. Its easy-to-administer nature and high safety profile make it an excellent choice for pet parents looking for a budget-friendly yet dependable solution to keep their dogs safe from heartworms.


  • Trusted, reliable and proven heartworm disease protection
  • Packed with the leading active ingredient ivermectin
  • Convenient and easy-to-administer chewable tablet
  • Available in different sizes for dogs of various weights
  • Affordable compared to brand-name heartworm preventatives

Both of these products are essential for maintaining your dog’s well-being and providing them with the protection they deserve. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the most suitable option for your dog and ensure that they receive the necessary preventive care to keep them healthy and happy for years to come.

Keep in mind, being aware of the symptoms of heartworm disease and taking proactive measures to prevent it are essential for the health and well-being of your dog. Regular veterinary check-ups, preventives, and prompt treatment if diagnosed are crucial steps in ensuring your dog’s heart health.

Remember, a healthy dog is a happy dog!


Can my dog get heartworms from other dogs?

No, heartworms are transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito, not directly from dog to dog.

How long does heartworm treatment take?

Treatment for heartworm disease can be lengthy and may require multiple visits to the veterinarian over several months.

Can indoor dogs get heartworms?

Yes, indoor dogs are also at risk of getting heartworms if they are bitten by an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes can find their way indoors, so it’s important to provide indoor dogs with heartworm prevention as recommended by a veterinarian.

What are the recommended methods for preventing heartworm disease in dogs, and how effective are they?

The most common method for preventing heartworm disease in dogs is the regular administration of heartworm preventives. These preventives are highly effective when used as directed by a veterinarian. Additionally, minimizing exposure to mosquitoes, which transmit heartworms, can help reduce the risk of infection.

Are there any natural remedies that can prevent heartworm infection in dogs?

While some natural remedies may be suggested, heartworm preventives approved by veterinarians are the most reliable and effective means of prevention. It’s important to consult with a veterinarian before considering alternative methods.

What are the potential risks associated with heartworm infection in dogs, and how does it impact their overall health?

Heartworm infection can lead to severe health complications in dogs, including damage to the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. If left untreated, it can be fatal. Additionally, the treatment for advanced heartworm disease can be costly and stressful for the dog. Prevention is key to avoiding these risks.

What should I do if I miss giving my dog a dose of heartworm preventive?

If a dose of heartworm preventive is missed, it’s important to administer the missed dose as soon as possible and resume the regular dosing schedule. Additionally, it’s advisable to consult with a veterinarian for further guidance.

What are the geographical regions where heartworm disease is most prevalent, and how does this impact the risk for dogs in different areas?

Heartworm disease is most prevalent in regions with warm climates and high mosquito populations. However, it’s important to note that heartworm disease can occur in any area where mosquitoes are present. Pet parents should be aware of the risk in their specific geographic location and take appropriate preventive measures.

How does heartworm disease transmission occur, and what steps can pet parents take to minimize their dog’s exposure to infected mosquitoes?

Heartworm disease is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. Pet parents can minimize their dog’s exposure to infected mosquitoes by using mosquito repellents, keeping their pets indoors during peak mosquito activity, and eliminating standing water where mosquitoes breed.

Can heartworm disease be transmitted to humans from infected dogs?

No, heartworm disease is not directly transmissible from dogs to humans. It is primarily a disease that affects dogs, cats, and other animals, but not humans.


Jesse McDaniel is an animal activist that raises concerns and spreads awareness regarding pet health issues. She is also a self-proclaimed pet lover who tends to support many pet shelters, assisting them with supplies and medical aid on a regular basis.