Heartworms and our Pets: What YOU need to know

Did you know? It’s National Heartworm Awareness Month: Indiana continues to rank high (top 12 ) for canine heartworm disease. Tom Dock, BSc, CVJ, Director of Communications Practice Manager, Noah’s at Wheaton, tells us what we need to look out for:

1) Heartworms are parasites that can live in our pets’ heart and/or lungs, can live for 5-7 years and are often up to a foot long in length!

2) Spread by mosquitoes, these parasites can cause severe disease in our pets and Indiana ranks 12th in canine heartworm cases across the United States.

3) According to, in 2020, one out of every 100 dogs in Marion County tested positive for heartworms, with more than 444 cases in our local area alone!. Across the state, the numbers were even worse with more than 4750 pups coming up positive!

4) Heartworm disease can cause severe issues for our dogs, including exercise intolerance, significant cough, liver issues, accumulation of fluid on the abdomen or chest, anemia, bleeding from the nose or even death. The most common symptom exhibited by a dog who test positive for heartworms is no sign at all!

5) Treatment for heartworms is hard on the pet and hard on the wallet. It is not unusual for a pet to need over $1000 in treatments, diagnostics and hospitalization and still have to spend 6-12 months on cage rest.

6) Dogs aren’t the only host…our cats can also get heartworms, although their disease develops differently. There is NO approved treatment for cats.

7) The good news is that we have safe and effective parasite prevention products that can virtually stop your pet from getting heartworms. Products like Sentinel, Trifexis, Heartgard and many others are available through your veterinarian. A routine blood screening should be done to make sure your pet does not already harbor the parasite.

8) There’s even an injection that will protect your pet from heartworms for six months!!

9) Quite literally, every dog in our state is at risk for developing heartworm disease. Ask your veterinarian about the best ways to keep your canine friend safe!

10) Helpful websites:,,,