As an Amazon Associate, we may receive a small commission from qualifying purchases but at no extra cost to you. Learn more.
Heartworms are a type of parasitic worm that can live in the heart and blood vessels of dogs.
If left untreated, heartworms can cause serious health problems in dogs, including heart failure and death.
Heartworm infection is most commonly seen in areas with warm climates, as the parasite requires a certain temperature to survive.
However, heartworms have been found in dogs living in most parts of the Americas with an exception of Chile.
This means that all dog owners should be aware of the risks of heartworm infection and take steps to prevent their dogs from becoming infected.
How Long Can A Dog Live With Heartworms?
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the question of how long a dog can live with heartworms.
The severity of the infection, as well as the overall health of the dog, will play a role in determining how long the dog will live.
In general, however, it is thought that most dogs with heartworm infection will not live more than two years if they do not receive some treatment.
However, heartworms can stay in a dog for up to 6 years.
If caught early, heartworms can be eradicated from your dog by following a strict treatment routine.
But if the infection is too advanced, the best that can be done is treatment aimed at helping to improve the dog’s quality of life and extend their life expectancy.
This is why it’s a good idea to seek medical help if you think your dog may have been infected with heartworms.
Early detection and treatment are always the best courses of action when it comes to dealing with any type of health problem in dogs.
Consequently, dog parents who live in an area where heartworm infection is a risk are encouraged to take steps to prevent their dog from becoming infected in the first place.
There are several different products available that can help to prevent heartworm infection, so talk to your vet about which one is right for your dog.
Remember, prevention is always the best medicine!
Do Heartworms Shorten A Dog’s Life?
Factors that will affect how long a dog can live with heartworms include the severity of the infection, the dog’s overall health and age, and whether or not they receive treatment.
In general, however, it is thought that heartworms can significantly shorten a dog’s life expectancy.
For the most part, treatment will not kill the worms—it only decreases their lifespan.
This means that an infected dog’s lifespan will be reduced by around 6 years or less depending on the severity of the infection. This may explain why animal shelters prefer to put infected dogs to sleep.
Are Heartworms Painful For Dogs?
Yes, heartworms can be painful for dogs. The pain is caused by the worms migrating through the dog’s body and can cause damage to the lungs, heart, and other organs. In severe cases, heartworms can be fatal.
Symptoms of heartworm disease can include a cough, exercise intolerance, lethargy, weight loss, and collapse.
If your dog is showing any of these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian right away.
Treatment for heartworm disease is available, but it is important to catch it early.
Can Heartworms Make Dogs Skinny?
This could go either way—it is possible for some dogs to be skinny and others overweight due to heartworm infection.
Lots of infected dogs usually get overweight. This is because the pests may make the dogs anemic which makes the dog tired and lethargic.
Since the dog is tired, he will not want to exercise which is the main reason why they suffer from obesity.
Also, since the pests live in the heart vessels and lungs, they may not necessarily interfere with the absorption of nutrients.
On the flip side, some dogs get skinny after getting heartworms. However, this is usually due to the underlying disease caused by the heartworms, and not the worms themselves.
The underlying conditions can interfere with the absorption of nutrients from the food.
What Are The Final Stages Of Heartworms In Dogs?
Source: Vet Advantage
As the heartworms mature, they begin to reproduce and the female worms release large numbers of microfilariae into the dog’s bloodstream.
The microfilariae circulate through the body and are picked up by mosquitoes when they take a blood meal.
When a mosquito bites an infected animal, it ingests the microfilariae which develop into infective larvae over the next ten to fourteen days.
If this mosquito then bites another dog, the larvae are deposited on the surface of the dog’s skin and enter through the bite wound.
The larvae migrate through the body, eventually entering the right side of the heart and lungs where they mature into adult heartworms. Adult heartworms can live for five to seven years in the host animal.
As the number of heartworms increases, they begin to clog the arteries leading to the heart and lungs, resulting in a decrease in blood flow. This can lead to heart failure and death.
The final stages of heartworms in dogs can be very dangerous. Heartworms can clog the arteries leading to the heart and lungs, resulting in a decrease in blood flow. This can lead to heart failure and death.
Heart failure is the most common cause of death in dogs with heartworms.
Is My Dog Too Old For Heartworm Treatment?
While many factors can influence a dog’s lifespan, the presence of heartworms is not necessarily a death sentence.
In fact, with proper treatment and care, most dogs with heartworms can go on to live long and healthy lives.
Of course, the severity of your dog’s heartworm infection will play a big role in how long they can live with the condition.
Dogs with less severe infections may only need to be monitored and treated on an as-needed basis, while dogs with more advanced infections may require more intensive treatment.
In either case, it’s important to work closely with your veterinarian to come up with a treatment plan that’s right for your dog.
Dog Life Expectancy after Heartworm Treatment
And how long can a dog live after heartworm treatment? Does heartworm treatment shorten a dog’s life?
Well, there is no one-size-fits-all answer.
The life expectancy of a dog after heartworm treatment depends on factors like your dog’s age, health status, and severity or clinical manifestation of the disease.
Generally, heartworm treatment in dogs is known to become increasingly invasive and take greater toll of the dog’s body.
So, a dog with mild or asymptomatic infection will show a better prognosis compared to her counterpart with an advanced case.
If a dog’s heartworm condition is diagnosed in the early stages of the disease, he’s likely to make a complete recovery.
This means that he’s likely to enjoy a normal or improved lifespan after treatment.
In advanced stages of the condition, there is more damage to the lungs, heart, and possibly other organs like the kidney.
As a result, life span and survivability reduces significantly because much of the organ damage is not reversible.
Put simply, at advanced stages, complete recovery is out of question and the best that can be done is treatment aimed at improving the dog’s quality of life.
Finally, a very old dog with a host of other underlying health problems may not live longer after heartworm treatment compared to a puppy or a young adult with lesser health issues.
All in all, heartworm treatment improves a dog’s life span. It doesn’t shorten it! So, unless your dog is too old or experiencing many other health issues, there isn’t a valid reason why you shouldn’t take her for heartworm treatment.
In fact, leaving your dog untreated is the worst thing you can do to her as it will shorten her lifespan by approximately 6 or more years.
How Can I Prevent My Dog From Getting Heartworms?
The best way to prevent your dog from getting heartworms is to have them on monthly preventive medication.
There are many different brands and types of heartworm preventives available, so talk to your veterinarian about which one is right for your dog.
In addition, keep your dog up-to-date on their other vaccinations, as some can also help protect against heartworms.
These include the DHPP (distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, and parvovirus) vaccine and the Bordetella vaccine.
Finally, have your dog tested for heartworms every year by their veterinarian. This is especially important if they missed any doses of preventive medication or if you’re not sure if they’ve been on it consistently.
Should I Adopt A Heartworm-Positive Dog?
There are several factors to consider before adopting a heartworm-positive dog.
The first is the cost of treatment, which can be upwards of $500.
The second is the commitment required for treatment, which can last up to six months.
Finally, you need to be prepared for the possibility that the dog may not survive treatment.
Most shelters will put infected dogs to sleep, but many rescue organizations will take on the challenge of treating heartworm-positive dogs.
If you are considering adopting a heartworm-positive dog, make sure you do your research and are prepared for the commitment and the possibility of losing the dog.
Related Post: Did My Dog Know He Was Being Put to Sleep?
Heartworms shouldn’t be a death sentence to your furry friend.
If you act quick and have him checked out by the vet, they can be treated and your dog will be back to his normal happy self in a couple of weeks.
However, in severe cases, the infection can be fatal. This is why every dog owner should take precautions (e.g. preventive medication and vaccinations) to avoid having to deal with an infection in the first place.
Sable McNeil is a canine chef, professional pet blogger, and proud owner of two male dogs. I have been an animal lover all my life, with dogs holding a special place in my heart. Initially, I created this blog to share recipes, tips, and any relevant information on healthy homemade dog treats. But because of my unrelenting passion to make a difference in the world of dogs, I have expanded the blog’s scope to include the best information and recommendations about everything dog lovers need to know about their canine friends’ health and wellbeing. My mission now is to find the most helpful content on anything related to dogs and share it with fellow hardworking hound lovers. While everything I share is in line with the latest evidence-based veterinarian health guidelines, nothing should be construed as veterinary advice. Please contact your vet in all matters regarding your Fido’s health.