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The American Heartworm Society was established in 1974 to fund research for heartworm diagnosis and prevention in dogs.  The article below reflects “Prevention” as a key element in keeping your dog and other pets safe.  

Prevention is not only limited to a prescribed heartworm medication but is recommended to be combined with other measures such as hiring a certified mosquito control professional.  

Companies such as Mosquito Brothers will conduct a walk-through of your property to identify issues relating to mosquito breeding or resting areas and take corrective action.  Homeowners on Long Island have the option of choosing a traditional or natural spray product that will be applied to vegetation and other essential areas where mosquitoes frequent.


Heartworm is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. With the import of more and more rescued pets from the South, active heartworm infections are being brought to Long Island.

In addition to heartworm pills, spraying your yard is a crucial step in mitigating the risk of heartworm for your dog.

Mosquito Ingestion: An infected mosquito bites a dog harboring adult heartworms. These adult worms reproduce, releasing microscopic offspring called microfilariae into the dog’s bloodstream. The mosquito ingests these microfilariae during another feeding.

Development in Mosquito: Inside the mosquito, the microfilariae mature into infective larvae over a period of time.

Transmission to New Dog: When the infected mosquito bites another dog, these infective larvae are deposited onto the dog’s skin and enter its body through the bite wound.

Maturation in Dog: Inside the new dog, the infective larvae take about 6-7 months to mature into adult heartworms, restarting the cycle.

Important Points:

  • Dogs are the definitive host for heartworms, meaning they’re where the adult worms mature, reproduce, and cause harm.
  • Mosquitoes act as intermediate hosts, carrying the immature stages of the worm and transmitting them between dogs.
  • Dogs cannot directly transmit heartworm to other dogs.


Heartworm disease in dogs can be a serious condition.  It’s recommended to have your property sprayed by a licensed company that specializes in the control of mosquitoes.  Also, contact your veterinarian to consider regular heartworm medication. Early detection and treatment are crucial for a dog’s health. However, many dogs with heartworm disease don’t exhibit symptoms in the early stages.

  • Mild, persistent cough: This is one of the first signs that a dog may have heartworm disease. The cough can be dry and hacking, and it may worsen with exercise.
  • Reluctance to exercise or play: Dogs with heartworm disease may tire easily and become less interested in activities they once enjoyed.
  • Fatigue after moderate activity: Even moderate activity can leave a dog with heartworm disease feeling exhausted.
  • Decreased appetite and weight loss: As the disease progresses, a dog may lose interest in food and start to lose weight.
  • Labored breathing or difficulty breathing: This is a more serious symptom that indicates the heartworm infection is affecting the dog’s ability to breathe.
  • Swollen abdomen: Fluid buildup in the abdomen, caused by heart failure due to heartworm disease, can make a dog’s belly appear distended

If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, it’s important to see a veterinarian right away. Early diagnosis and treatment of heartworm disease is essential for a dog’s health. 

It’s important to note that these symptoms can also be caused by other health conditions. If you’re concerned about your dog’s health, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and schedule a checkup with your veterinarian.

Heartworm Prevention for Dogs

Heartworm prevention for dogs is an important concern for every pet owner. Prevention is an important part of providing essential care, and heartworm disease prevention for dogs is something every owner can do. Consider this:

  • Dogs have been diagnosed with heartworm disease in every state in the U.S.
  • Heartworms are spread by mosquitoes, so any area of the country that has mosquitoes—even just a few of them—can also have heartworm disease.
  • Dogs don’t just need prevention during warm-weather months. Heartworm preventives work by treating heartworms that already infected the pet within the past month or longer; meanwhile, preventives need to be given on time, every time to be effective. That’s why the American Heartworm Society recommends year-round heartworm prevention for pets.
  • The American Heartworm Society estimates that more than a million dogs in the U.S. have heartworm disease—and heartworm disease can be fatal.
  • Cats and ferrets can also get heartworm disease.
  • Heartworm preventives are safe, relatively inexpensive, and easy to give, but if a dog becomes infected, heartworm treatment can be costly and difficult, requiring multiple veterinary visits and months of exercise restriction.
  • While there are drug-free strategies owners can put in place to reduce a pet’s exposure to mosquitoes, there’s no such thing as a “natural” heartworm preventive.

For additional information reference the full article at