Heartworm Awareness Month

April is Heartworm Awareness Month! While heartworms aren’t the most pleasant topic to read about, it is very important for pet owners—particularly people with dogs—to understand what they are, and why they are so dangerous. Read on as a local Kalamazoo, MI vet discusses heartworms.

Heartworm Basics

Heartworms, as the name suggests, are parasitic worms that can infest dogs’ hearts. They also live in Fido’s lungs and blood vessels. Heartworms are not passed directly from dog to dog. Instead, the heartworm has enlisted another annoying parasite—the mosquito—to carry their larvae from pooch to pooch via infected blood. Your four-legged friend can contract heartworm anywhere there are mosquitos, even without coming directly into contact with an infected dog. In case you were wondering, cats can contract them, though it’s rare for them to have adult heartworms.


It’s much, much easier to protect your canine pal from heartworms than it is to try and treat an active infestation. Just keep up with Fido’s parasite prevention products, and you won’t have to worry! It is worth noting that if your dog has been off heartworm medication, he’ll need to be tested before starting a parasite control regime. This is because the medicine that prevents infestations won’t kill live worms. It takes about five months for the worms to become large enough to detect on tests, so a few rounds of tests may be needed. Ask your vet for more information.


Heartworms are in larval form when they first infect dogs, so you probably won’t notice any symptoms at first. As the worms grow larger, they’ll begin to interfere with your pet’s circulation and respiration. Coughing and fatigue are two early warning signs. Other symptoms are trembling, shortness of breath, lethargy, and reluctance to play. Ask your vet for specific recommendations.


While there are treatment options available for heartworm, they can be tough on Fido, and also on your wallet. Your pet may need to take some pretty strong medications, and may also need to be kenneled during treatment. This is to prevent him from overexerting himself. In some cases, surgery may be required. Heartworms are definitely a situation where an ounce of treatment is worth a pound of cure!

Does your four-legged friend need heartworm prevention? Contact us, your local Kalamazoo, MI pet clinic, today! We are dedicated to providing excellent veterinary care!

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