Filaria in Dogs: What it is, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

Filaria en Perros: Qué es, Síntomas, Tratamiento y Prevención

Do you know what canine filaria is? It surprised us too, believe me. Stay reading and let's discover all the necessary information about it. Let's discover what it is, the way it is transmitted, its symptoms, its treatment, forms of prevention, useful tips for caring for your furry friend during the illness and much more. Let's get started!

What is filaria in dogs?

Filaria in dogs refers to an infection caused by worms of the genus Dirofilaria, also known as heartworm. These parasites are transmitted mainly through the bite of infected mosquitoes, they should not be confused with flea bites in dogs or wasp bites in dogs . Once a dog is bitten by a mosquito carrying infective filaria larvae, the larvae migrate through the bloodstream to the heart and lung blood vessels, where they develop into adult worms.

How is filariasis transmitted in dogs?

When the infected mosquito bites another healthy dog, the infective larvae are deposited on the dog's skin during the bite. From there, the larvae migrate through the subcutaneous tissue and reach the blood vessels, where they mature into adult worms. The adult worms settle primarily in the lung arteries and right ventricle of the dog's heart, where they reproduce and release new microfilariae into the blood, thus completing the transmission cycle.

Symptoms of filaria in dogs

The symptoms of filaria in dogs can vary depending on the degree of infestation and the time that has passed since the initial infection. Some dogs may not show obvious clinical signs during the early stages of the disease. However, as the infestation progresses, the symptoms may become more noticeable and severe. Some of the common symptoms of filaria in dogs include:

Is filaria contagious in dogs?

Filariasis in dogs is not considered a contagious disease in the sense that it is not transmitted directly from an infected dog to a healthy one. The infection is transmitted through the bite of infected mosquitoes, therefore, it is important to control the mosquito population in areas where the disease is endemic and protect dogs against mosquito bites by using repellents and preventative treatments against the filaria.

Why is canine filariasis dangerous?

Canine filariasis is a dangerous disease for dogs for the following reasons:

  • Adult Dirofilaria immitis worms lodge in the dog's circulatory system, especially the heart and lungs. This can lead to serious complications, such as heart failure, lung damage, and in extreme cases, the death of the dog.
  • Infected dogs can experience a variety of serious symptoms
  • Treating filariasis in dogs can be expensive and time-consuming. It involves the use of medications to kill adult worms, as well as treatments to control adverse reactions and damage to affected organs.
  • Although there are preventive medications for filariasis, the disease can be difficult to completely prevent due to the complex life cycle of the parasite and the presence of mosquitoes as transmission vectors.

Treatment for filaria in dogs

Treatment for filaria in dogs is usually complex and will vary depending on the severity of the infection and the general condition of the dog:

Dog Stabilization

If the dog is seriously ill due to filariasis, it may need initial stabilization. This may include supportive therapies such as oxygen, diuretics to treat fluid buildup, and medications to treat symptoms such as cough and shortness of breath.

Elimination of adult worms

Once the dog is stable, treatment can begin to eliminate the adult Dirofilaria immitis worms. This is usually accomplished through the use of medications called adulticides, which kill the adult worms in the dog's circulatory system. These medications can be given orally or injected.

Control of microfilariae

In addition to eliminating adult worms, it is also important to control microfilariae in the dog's blood. This can be achieved by using medications called microfilaricides, which kill circulating microfilariae.

Can canine filariasis be prevented?

Effective measures can be taken to prevent infection, the most common being the use of preventive medications against filariasis. These medications as pipettes or injections are administered monthly, and help prevent Heartworm larvae from developing into adult worms inside the dog. Additionally, it is important to control mosquito populations, as they are the vectors that transmit the disease from one dog to another.

Tips for caring for a dog with filariasis

Caring for a dog with filariasis can be challenging, but with proper care and treatment, many dogs can lead comfortable lives:

  • It is essential to maintain regular appointments with the veterinarian to monitor the dog's health and adjust treatment as necessary.
  • Administer medications as directed by your veterinarian.

In case the dog does not like to visit the veterinarian, I recommend that you give him Waggy's brand puppy treats because they contain CBD for dogs , which helps a lot to level the stress and anxiety levels in dogs before go to your session, which will be beneficial for everyone. In addition, one of its other ingredients is Omega 3 for dogs , a necessary and essential component for the development of the puppy.

  • Make sure your dog has a comfortable, quiet environment to rest. Provide a soft, warm bed, and avoid unnecessary stress or excessive exercise.
  • Feed your dog a balanced, nutritious diet appropriate for his age, size and activity level.
  • Although it is important to limit vigorous exercise, it is beneficial for dogs with filariasis to maintain some level of moderate physical activity. Short, gentle walks can help maintain blood circulation and promote cardiovascular health.
  • Watch for any changes in the dog's behavior or symptoms, such as coughing, difficulty breathing, fatigue, or loss of appetite.
  • Provide plenty of love, attention, and emotional support to your dog during his recovery. Quality time together can help strengthen the bond between you and provide your dog with comfort during this difficult period.


In conclusion, canine filariasis is a serious disease that can affect the health and well-being of our furry friends. However, prevention plays a fundamental role in protecting against this disease. Keeping dogs on a regular regimen of preventive filaria medications, monitoring mosquito populations, and keeping an eye out for any signs of illness are key steps in keeping our canine companions healthy and happy. With a proactive focus on prevention, we can significantly reduce the risk of our dogs contracting filariasis and ensure they live longer, fuller lives.

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