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Can Dogs Get Heartworm from Another Dog?


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Part of being a dog owner is taking on all the responsibilities of preventing disease in your dog. You may never see the effects of a disease like heartworm because your veterinarian will recommend you place your dog on heartworm prevention. Heartworm disease is definitely something you don’t want your dog to have. Heartworms are responsible for heart disease, lung disease, and organ damage. Heartworms can be fatal for dogs. But as hard as you try to prevent diseases in your dog, you may find out other dogs around yours, in fact, have heartworm disease. You’ll need to know if your dog is in danger if they are around another dog who has heartworm. You should also understand how heartworms are passed to dogs. Read on to learn more about the transfer of this horrible disease and relax knowing you are doing the right thing with veterinarian-approved heartworm prevention.

Can Dogs Get Heartworm from Another Dog?


Heartworms are spread by infected mosquitos. If a dog has heartworm and is bitten by an infected mosquito, the heartworm can be passed to another dog via the mosquito. The mosquito has to host the heartworm long enough for it to mature and be able to infect the next victim the mosquito bites. Heartworms can be found in many mammals, but they are not passed from dog to dog.

Does My Dog Have Heartworm?

Heartworm disease is preventable. By keeping heartworms out of your dog’s system, you can keep your dog free of heartworm disease. If you suspect heartworm in your dog, you need to call your veterinarian as soon as possible for a test. Early signs and symptoms are very much like a minor cold. You might see your dog coughing, but by the time the symptoms of heartworm appear in your dog, their case is fairly far advanced. Your dog’s best chance is for preventative care.

You can learn more by reading our guide on heartworm disease and from your pet's caregiver.

How Do I Treat My Dog’s Heartworm?

The absolute best treatment for heartworm is prevention. If your dog has heartworm, your veterinarian can begin treatment with medications. This treatment is hard on your dog’s body and can be very costly.

Your veterinarian can discuss the medications your dog will need, including an adulticide, and the risks of treating versus not treating heartworm. Recovery for a dog with heartworm will depend on how advanced the symptoms within the dog’s lungs are and where the actual worms are located once they are killed within the body. 

How is Heartworm Similar in Dogs, Humans, and Other Pets?

All mammals can contract heartworm, but each mammal handles heartworms differently. Humans could contract heartworms, but it’s a rare event, and studies show the heartworms don’t last long. Cats and other mammals can also contract heartworms, but the worms live for much less time in a cat’s body.

An infected mosquito can infect any mammal. And mammals can contract heartworm as a result of that infected bite. If mammals contract heartworm, symptoms will include lung problems and coughing. However, this is about where the commonalities for heartworm end for people and dogs or other household pets and dogs.

How is Heartworm Different in Dogs, Humans, and Other Pets?

Dogs are the usual culprit for heartworm. Dogs tend to have the longest living heartworms and the worst of heartworm disease. Heartworms in cats live for less time and don’t usually have the effect heartworms have in dogs. Cats can have similar symptoms such as coughing, but they can also show additional symptoms that mimic other conditions as well. Some cats will show no signs of the disease.

Case Study

The best cure and treatment for heartworm is prevention. Imagine two dogs adopted from the same shelter. One is tested for heartworm with a negative result and lives a long and healthy life with an every six-month preventive care medicine from his veterinarian. The other puppy has tested positive for heartworm and must undergo treatment which can cause pain and discomfort. This dog must take medicines that could cause blood clotting. On top of the medications, this little puppy has to put up with his vet drawing blood and performing x-rays each time he visits. Prevention is the best medicine for heartworm.


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