How Long Can A Dog Live With Heartworms (And Why)?

Exact Answer: Five to Seven Years

Dogs are living beings that are prone to a lot of problems like diseases and illness. One such disease or condition that is quite common in Dogs is Heartworms. However, heartworms don’t happen to puppies. It only happens to dogs.

Heartworm does not sound complex but is a life-threatening disease that causes much more problems for a dog. A dog first gets infected, and then the heartworms grow. The treatment is also lengthy, due to which the dog has to live with heartworms for some time. 

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How Long Can A Dog Live With Heartworms?

Heartworms are worms that start growing in a dogs’ body due to an infection caused by something as simple as a mosquito bite. Heartworms are parasites that can dwell in a dog’s body for a very long time. They are called heartworms because they take residence in the dog’s heart. It is also found near the vessels closer to the heart.

Dogs are known to be great hosts for heartworms. Once the heartworms enter the dog’s body, they can populate pretty fast. With that, they also tend to stay alive for long durations. In severe cases, heartworms can be in a dog’s body for a maximum of seven years.

Heartworms can cause a lot of problems like blood flow cut-off, or blockages, etc. Because of this factor, the red blood cells are destructed, and even more problems like heart failure and more.

Even though there are treatments available for heartworms, they can still be alive in the dog’s body during treatment. Over time, there can be a lot of symptoms that a dog can show once the heartworms start growing in its body. Some of the symptoms include difficulty in breathing, or the dog might start feeling tired even with little activity. There can be a sudden drop in their appetite, or there can even be weight loss.

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The time for which a dog can live with heartworms depends on many reasons and varies from one dog to another. 

ConditionDuration for which heartworm stays in the dog
With treatmentSixty Days
Without treatmentMaximum Seven years

Why Can A Dog Live With Heartworms For So Long?

When a dog gets infected with heartworm via a mosquito, it gradually makes the dog’s body its home. Eventually, it grows in the dog. Within a few weeks, it starts to procreate too. Within a month, it multiplies, and in some time, there are hundreds of heartworms inside the dog by then. It takes time to get rid of all the heartworms via treatment. It means that the dog has to live with heartworms for two to three months minimum.

There are a few reasons why the dog has to live with the heartworm for over six to seven months. The reasons are as follows:

  • The primary factor is the time that it takes for the symptoms of heartworm to show. The symptoms can take anywhere between a month or two to even start being noticeable. After a couple of months since the infection, the dogs will begin to feel the changes. After that, the treatment is started, and it takes quite a lot of time. If the heartworm stays in the dogs for more than seven or eight years, it might prove to be fatal for the dog.
  • When the heartworms start growing in the dog, it eventually starts to disrupt its bodily functions. It starts to interfere with blood vessels and the heart of the dog. With treatment, heartworms can be removed. But it might take time depending upon how the dog is reacting to the treatment. 
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Conclusion

Heartworms start with a tiny infection that can even lead to heart failure. If the treatment is started within a month of the dog getting infected, the heartworms can be treated in even about two months.

The pet owner needs to look for the symptoms, and once detected, consult the vet without delay. The maximum time for which the dog can live with heartworms may also vary if the dog has any other kind of health problems. In such cases, the heartworm might start to damage the heart faster.

References

  1. https://www.vetsmall.theclinics.com/article/S0195-5616(09)00101-6/abstract
  2. https://www.cabdirect.org/cabdirect/abstract/19880851405