How dogs get heartworm?

Key Takeaways:

Question Answer
How do dogs get heartworm? Through mosquito bites, infected mosquitoes transmit heartworm larvae to dogs.
Is heartworm preventable? Yes, regular preventive measures, like medication, are crucial for protection.
Can humans get heartworms from dogs? No, heartworm is not directly transmissible from dogs to humans.


Understanding how dogs contract heartworm is essential for every pet owner. This comprehensive guide explores the intricacies of this potentially life-threatening condition, shedding light on prevention and treatment.

How Dogs Contract Heartworm:

Heartworm is not directly contagious; it requires an intermediary carrier – mosquitoes. When a mosquito bites an infected dog, it ingests tiny heartworm larvae along with the blood. These larvae mature within the mosquito, becoming infective larvae.

Stage Description
Infected Dog A dog carrying adult heartworms in its bloodstream is bitten by a mosquito.
Mosquito Ingestion The mosquito takes in blood, along with immature heartworm larvae.
Maturation within Mosquito Larvae develop into infective larvae within the mosquito over a couple of weeks.
Bite to Uninfected Dog The mosquito bites an uninfected dog, transferring infective larvae into it.


Preventing heartworm is crucial, and several methods are available:

  1. Monthly Medications: Administering monthly preventive medications prescribed by veterinarians helps kill immature heartworms before they reach the heart.
  2. Annual Testing: Regular heartworm testing ensures early detection, allowing prompt intervention.
  3. Mosquito Control: Minimize exposure by using mosquito repellents and keeping dogs indoors during peak mosquito activity.

Common Misconceptions:

Myth Reality
Heartworm is directly transmitted from dog to dog. Mosquitoes act as carriers, transmitting the larvae from infected to uninfected dogs.
Only outdoor dogs get heartworm. Indoor dogs are also at risk if mosquitoes are present.
Heartworm is not fatal. Untreated heartworm can lead to severe health issues and even death.

Related Questions:

Question Answer
Can cats get heartworm from infected dogs? Yes, while less common, heartworm can affect cats; preventive measures are available.
What are the symptoms of heartworm in dogs? Symptoms include coughing, lethargy, and difficulty breathing; early detection is crucial.
Is heartworm treatment expensive for dogs? Treatment cost varies, but prevention is more cost-effective than treating advanced cases.


Empowering pet owners with knowledge about how dogs contract heartworm is the first step in prevention. Regular veterinary check-ups, mosquito control, and preventive medications play key roles in ensuring your furry friend stays heartworm-free.

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