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Heartworm FAQs

Heartworm is a parasite roundworm that can seriously affect your furry friend’s health. The infection caused by heartworm can be very problematic to your pet. However, there is a lot of misinformation about heartworm. It's important to understand all the facts so that you can keep your animals healthy and safe. Our veterinarian is highly experienced in helping animals with heartworm issues.


1. How does heartworm spread?

Heartworm enters the animal’s body through mosquito bites. The mosquito bites and infected animal and then carries the heartworm to another host.

2. Is heartworm preventable?

Our Overland Park veterinarian states that the only way to be certain that your pet is protected from heartworm is to keep them on a regular routine using preventive chewable tablets or a topical liquid. There are a variety of products, most of which are approximately 99 percent effective in keeping heartworm from thriving in your pet's system. Some medications are taken monthly. Others protect your pet for 6 to 12 months.

3. Do heartworm only affect dogs?

No. While dogs are the hosts that heartworm prefer, they can thrive in other domestic animals, including cats and ferrets.

4. I keep my pets inside. Do I have to worry about heartworm?

Yes. Mosquitos can infect a pet inside your home also.

5. What are the signs of heartworm?

Dogs can live for several years with heartworm before they show any obvious symptoms. That's why testing is essential to catch heartworm in its early stages. Hallmarks of early stage heartworm infection include cough, especially during exercise, and an intolerance to exercise in general. Signs of a later-stage infection include severe weight loss, fainting, coughing up blood and eventually congestive heart failure.

6. What is the treatment for heartworm?

Treatment for heartworm is very aggressive and involves an arsenic-based medication administered over several weeks. After treatment, your pet must remain mostly sedentary while his or her body absorbs the dead worms. Treatment is usually, but not always, successful.

Call Our Veterinarian In Overland Park Today

Heartworm is one of the most serious health conditions that can affect your pet. The caring, experienced veterinarian in Overland Park can help you choose the preventative heartworm medicine that's best for you and your pet. To learn more heartworm or to make an appointment, contact Nall Hills Animal Hospital at (913) 341-8836. We've been helping keep pets in the greater Kansas City area safe and healthy for more than 20 years.