10 Heartworm Facts You Need to Know

Dog owners in the USA should stay informed to avoid canine health risks starting with these 10 heartworm facts you need to know. Heartworm is preventable and a dog that is heartworm positive can survive if treated before very advanced stages of infection are discovered.

The USA map graphic inserted below is a Heartworm Incidence 2010 Map and copyright by the American Heartworm Society though modified slightly to fit this blog post and to include just the lower 48 states.

usa heartworm incidence 2010 map

USA Heartworm Incidence 2010 Map – Modifed to Include the 48 Lower States

The text as graphics explanation from the original map was converted to page text and quoted as follows:

The severity of heartworm incidence as shown in this map is based on the average number of cases per reporting clinic. Some remote regions of the United States lack veterinary clinics, therefore we have no reported cases from these areas. ~American Heartworm Society

List of Heartworm 10 Facts to Know

Here are the 10 facts about heartworm that you need to know based on our knowledge and experience.

1. Heartworm is more common in places with 2 continuous weeks at or above 80F temperatures.
2. Heartworm infection is far more likely in dogs left tied outside or picked up as strays.
3. Heartworm larvae are transmitted to dogs by mosquito bites, spread, grow, and reproduce.
4. Heartworm microfilariae offspring move to the blood stream and infect the heart and lungs.
5. Heartworm infection level is graded between least to most severe as stages L1 through L5.
6. Heartworm positive dogs may not show physical signs until it reaches more severe stages.
7. Heartworm microfilariae are able to pass across the placental barrier to unborn puppies.
8. Heartworm prevention medication of monthly preventatives costs less than $150 per year.
9. Heartworm diagnosis and treatment when discovered in earlier stages can cost $800 and up.
10. Heartworm treatment and rehabilitation requires exercise restrictions and months of care.

The staff of Central Florida Weimaraner & Dog Rescue, Inc. dba Lifeline Dog Rescue have over 30 years of experience as rescue dog caretakers. In that time we have encountered every imaginable severe health issue in dogs from illness, injury, and disease. Heartworm is preventable.

Despite this fact, the map above is a stark reminder for dog owners in the USA that heartworm disease is a serious problem and reported in every state. The cost of prevention is minimal compared to the cost of treatment for heartworm positive dogs.

More Heartworm Facts You May Not Know

Heartworms can grow up to 10-12 inches long and dogs may become infected with 100 or more. Newborn puppies of a heartworm positive mother are not tested because L1 microfilariae take 5-7 months growth before being detectable. Physical signs of heartworm may be overlooked such as problems with exercise, getting tired easily, and a slight cough.

Advanced stage potential symptoms include weight loss, rapid breathing, and more severe coughing. Extreme cases of heart and lung infection can cause death yet may be treatable with surgery.

Dogs rescued by Lifeline from public animal shelters, rescue transfers, or directly from owners are typically owner surrender, strays, or injured dogs. When the previous environment and lifestyle are unknown, dogs that appear happy and healthy could actually be heartworm positive.

two dogs only one heartworm positive

Two Lifeline Dogs – Only One Heartworm Positive

Some of the most tragic and preventable cases are stray dogs dumped on the street by owners hopeful their dog will be found and saved. The physical and mental health of that dog is at risk including behavioral problems, injury, illness, or death. Keep a clear conscience. Surrender your dog to a public or private rescue to avoid exposing your pet to those risks.

Wonder what heartworms look like? Google the word heartworm in image search to see graphic photographs as very convincing evidence to practice prevention.

Dogs are family and deserve to live indoors to lower the risk of potential diseases from mosquitoes, fleas, and ticks.

Dogs deserve monthly preventatives against those parasites, and annual testing to confirm no problems exist.

Heartworm positive dogs deserve the necessary rest, treatment, and a commitment to future prevention, too.

We want dog owners to realize the risks and take preventative measures to avoid the high cost of heartworm treatment and extended rehab care. Please review our 10 Heartworm Facts You Need to Know again, share them with family and friends, and make the right choices as a responsible pet owner.

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