Heartworms In Boston Terriers: What You Need To Know

Heartworm disease is a very common dog disease diagnosed in the United States.

This heart parasite can infect your Boston Terrier causing severe heart and lung damage and even death. The good news is that there are safe and affordable preventatives that can be administered to prevent heartworm disease.

Heartworms In Boston Terriers: What You Need To Know

This article will review signs, treatment, diagnosis, and prevention of heartworm disease in Boston Terriers.

Boston Terrier Heartworms: Signs, Diagnosis, Treatment, & Prevention

Boston Terriers are at risk for developing heartworm disease just like other dogs. Heartworms are parasitic worms that are carried by mosquitoes that can travel to your Boston’s heart causing severe disease.

There is a simple blood test that can be performed to detect heartworms. In addition, there are effective treatments for heartworms, but these treatments can be very expensive.

The best treatment for heartworms is actually preventing them in the first place. Heartworm prevention is much more affordable than heartworm treatment, so it is recommended that you keep your dog on monthly heartworm preventative year-round and get your dog tested for heartworms annually (see monthly prevention options below).

Heartworms In Boston Terriers: What You Need To Know

What Is Heartworm Disease In Boston Terriers?

Heartworm disease is a disease that can cause severe damage to the heart and lungs caused by a parasitic worm. This parasite is known as Dirofilaria immitis and is a long worm that travels to the heart of your Boston.

Heartworm disease is most commonly diagnosed in dogs, but this disease can also occur in cats and ferrets. 

Heartworms in Boston Terriers can be potentially fatal if left untreated due to heart failure and lung damage from the worm infection in the heart.

What Causes Heartworm Disease In Boston Terriers?

As previously mentioned, heartworm disease is caused by a parasitic worm called Dirofilaria immitis. This parasite is carried by mosquitoes.

If a dog has heartworms, they may have circulating heartworm babies in their bloodstream. A mosquito may bite this dog and ingest this blood that contains the baby worms. The mosquito may then fly around and bite another animal.

When this infected mosquito bites your dog, the heartworm larvae can then be transferred from the mosquito to your dog. These heartworm babies will then slowly migrate to your pet’s heart and grow into adult worms that can live for 5 to 7 years in your dog’s heart.

The presence of worms within the heart causes damage to the heart and lungs.

Heartworms In Boston Terriers: What You Need To Know

Symptoms Of Heartworm Disease In Boston Terriers

Early in the course of the heartworm disease, your Boston may not have any symptoms at all. Many of the dogs I have diagnosed with heartworm disease as a veterinarian have no symptoms because we caught the disease early with yearly heartworm testing.

Later on in the disease, you may notice a wide range of symptoms including coughing or decreased activity. If left untreated, heartworm disease can cause heart failure and even death.

Here are some of the most common symptoms of heartworm disease in Boston Terriers:

  • Coughing
  • Reluctance To Exercise
  • Getting Fatigued Easily From Exercise
  • Decreased Appetite
  • Weight Loss
  • Lethargy

Is your Boston Terrier showing other signs of sickness? Check out this article on Boston Terrier Society, 10 Common Boston Terrier Health Issues.

How To Check If Your Boston Has Heartworms

Early detection of heartworm disease is ideal as this minimizes the chances of long-term damage from heartworms. There is a simple and inexpensive blood test that can be performed to check for heartworms in Boston Terriers.

If you suspect your Boston has heartworms or if they have never been tested for heartworms, it would be a good idea to get a heartworm test done at your veterinary clinic. Additionally, if you have missed a few months of heartworm prevention, it would be a good idea to have your dog tested immediately and then again in 6 months.

There is no need to test puppies under 6 months of age for heartworm disease because it takes 6 months for heartworms to develop into mature adults that will show up on testing.

The American Heartworm Society recommends that dogs be tested annually for heartworm disease even if they are on monthly heartworm prevention (see monthly prevention options below). This is because prevention is not always 100 percent effective.

Heartworms In Boston Terriers: What You Need To Know

Boston Terrier Heartworm Treatment

If your Boston has any heartworm disease symptoms, your veterinarian will first want to stabilize your dog and try to get some of these symptoms under control. At the start of the treatment, your vet may recommend your pet start heartworm prevention a few months before starting the injectable heartworm treatment.

There is an FDA-approved injectable medication that can kill heartworms in Bostons. This medication is called melarsomine dihydrochloride, also known as Immiticide or Diroban. It is usually administered as 3 separate injections about 1 month apart.

During treatment, you will need to heavily restrict your Boston’s activity. As the worms are dying during treatment, pieces of the worms can dislodge and cause problems and even death if you are not restricting your pet’s exercise enough. 

I recommend crate resting and leash walking during the entire course of treatment and about 2 months after the last injection.

Can Heartworm In Dogs Be Cured?

Yes, heartworm disease can be cured in dogs. The treatment for heartworm disease is highly effective especially if administered early in the course of the disease. The injectable heartworm medication, Immiticide, will kill 98% of heartworms using the 3 injection protocol.

Heartworms In Boston Terriers: What You Need To Know

How Much Does It Cost To Treat A Dog With Heartworms?

The average cost to treat heartworms depends on your location and how sick your dog is. The average cost to treat a dog for heartworm disease can range from $1,000 to $1,500. This estimate includes medications and follow-up testing.

Because of the cost to treat heartworms in Boston Terriers it is alway better for your Boston and your wallet to use a monthly preventative medication. See prevention details below.

Want to learn how to save 25% immediately on your veterinarian bills? Check out Pet Assure. It is a pet savings plan, not traditional insurance, where participating vets give a 25% discount on vet related appointments and procedures. See more details on their website here, Pet Assure.

How To Prevent Heartworms In Boston Terriers

Heartworms are very dangerous for Bostons and in some cases can result in death. Because heartworms are carried by mosquitoes, even Bostons that mostly live inside are at risk for developing heartworm disease. 

Heartworm treatment is also very pricey!

The good news is that there are safe and effective heartworm preventatives on the market. The yearly cost of heartworm prevention can be as low as $65 per year! Check out Iverheart Max a low cost prevention, Iverheart Max.

Heartworm prevention should be given once every 30 days all year round. This prevention is not that expensive and could potentially save your Boston’s life. To make it easy to remember, I always give my dog her heartworm prevention on the first day of every month.

Heartworms In Boston Terriers: What You Need To Know

How Many Heartworm Prevention Medications Are There?

There are many different options for heartworm prevention available to your Boston. 

I recommend speaking with your veterinarian about the best option for your pet. Some of my favorite heartworm preventatives for Bostons include:


Heartworm disease is a common disease diagnosed in dogs that is caused by the presence of a parasitic worm infection of the heart. These worms are carried by mosquitoes so all Bostons are at risk for developing heartworm disease even if they primarily live indoors.

If your Boston develops heartworm disease, they may not have any symptoms at first. As the disease progresses, you may notice a cough, lethargy, or exercise intolerance.

There is an FDA-approved injectable heartworm treatment. While treatment for heartworms in Boston Terriers is generally effective, it is rather pricey.

The best way to avoid heartworms is by administering monthly heartworm prevention year-round and having your Boston tested for heartworms annually. You will save money in the long run because prevention is much less expensive than heartworm treatment in Boston Terriers. 

Contact your veterinarian today if you are interested in starting your Boston on heartworm prevention.


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Addie Reinhard, DVM

Addie Reinhard, DVM- Dr. Addie Reinhard is an experienced small animal veterinarian. She is a Boston Terrier lover and always enjoys caring for her Boston patients at the veterinary clinic. She is passionate about providing helpful educational resources to pet parents regarding animal diseases and preventative care. She lives in Lexington, KY with her husband, greyhound, and four cats.

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