Coughing, lethargy and weight loss are all signs that your dog may be suffering from heartworm disease, a potentially lethal infection. Heartworm disease is preventable, but you must keep your dog on prevention every single month, for life.
Heartworm is transmitted by mosquitoes. Cases have been reported across the United States, but the majority of cases are localized to the southern US, evidenced by the American Heartworm Society’s case distribution map. The number of pets at risk increases with climate changes and travel, which makes prevention even more important.
A variety of preventions are available, from monthly oral tablets to a six-month injection administered by your veterinarian. Talk with your veterinarian at your puppy’s first exam about heartworm prevention options. Set up a schedule to ensure you administer doses on time. Your dog should stay on heartworm prevention year-round to eliminate the risk of heartworm disease.
Elizabeth Muirhead is a practicing veterinarian with an undergraduate degree in biological sciences. She has real-world experience with the husbandry, grooming, training and feeding a variety of household pets.