What It’s Like for Your Dog to Have Heartworm

What It’s Like for Your Dog to Have Heartworm

Heartworm disease is caused by worms, which live in your dog’s heart. It is extremely serious, and deadly if left untreated.  Many people think that heartworms are rare in the Midwest and don’t give their dog the needed monthly preventative pill.


RAGOM regularly receives dogs that are suffering from heartworms. The treatment is long and grueling.


Leo underwent treatment for heartworm while in our care, which meant spending most of his time in a kennel.

About a year ago, we discovered Leo had heartworm when we welcomed him into our care. Leo endured treatment for four consecutive months to overcome his heartworm disease. The treatments, which involve medical injections from very long needles, are painful and exhausting.

Leo had to be in a crate or leashed and attached to his foster mom at all times. Dogs with heartworm are not allowed to run and play, or even go for walks. They must be kept very still because physical exertion increases the rate at which the heartworms can damage the heart and lungs.


The cost for heartworm prevention is just roughly $8 per month but the cost for treatment of an infected dog is about $1,200.

Because of the seriousness of heartworms, RAGOM requires that dogs take heartworm preventatives and have an annual heartworm test. RAGOM requires adopted dogs to be on heartworm prevention as prescribed by their veterinarian.  Heartworm tests are a blood draw and will not interfere with any type of medical treatment a dog is getting.

Common myths we hear on why someone’s dog is not getting preventatives:

  • My dogs are small dogs so they don’t go outside for very long and they don’t go to dog parks. (Heartworm is spread from mosquitos, not from dog to dog transmission.)
  • My dog is older and doesn’t need the test or preventatives. Even if your dog is getting older, they are still at risk for heartworm disease.
  • People want to go the holistic route.  (There are no proven holistic methods on preventing heartworm.)

The best and only way to protect your dog against heartworm disease is with a heartworm preventative and annual heartworm testing. Do the kind thing for your dog; make sure they receive preventative heartworm care!