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Keep your dogs on heartworm preventative year round. Heartworm prevention is available in pill format and is prescribed by your vet.

Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal condition caused by parasitic worms living in the arteries of the lungs and occasionally in the right side of the heart of dogs. Heartworm infection in apparently healthy animals is usually detected with blood tests for a heartworm substance called an "antigen" or microfilariae,


  1. If you have not already, have your dog tested for heartworms. If he tests positive, have him treated immediately. Heartworms will NOT go away by themselves.

  2. When you are certain your dogs are heartworm-negative, make sure they are all on a recommended heartworm preventative. Make it a “first of the month” routine to administer their preventative.

  3. Don’t put off your vet’s annual exam reminder; schedule an appointment for a checkup every year. As with humans, many potential issues, including the detection of heartworms, can be “nipped in the bud” at that annual exam. Your vet will probably want to re-test your dog for heartworms annually, even if he is on a preventative.

  4. Keep your dog at a healthy weight. Feed her a premium dog food that’s wheat and corn-free (she doesn’t need those extra carbs either), resist the temptation to over-treat, and limit her consumption of “people food”.

  5. For most dogs, the words “Want to go for a walk?” are the greatest in the world. Don’t cheat your dog out of this wonderful exercise, for his sake as well as yours. Proper leash walking is as mentally exhausting to a dog as it is physically exhausting, and a tired dog is a good dog! Cesar Millan recommends a 45-minute power walk first thing in the morning.

Everything You Wanted to Know (or Not!) About Heartworms. Yuck. Take Our Quiz.

Excerpted from Heartworms in Dogs: Facts and Myths by Sandy Eckstein, with help from Sheldon Rubin, 2007-2010 president of the American Heartworm Society.

Last Update : 03/06/2016
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