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Heartworm disease is one of the most significant health issues facing some of the Labs we rescue. Many come to us from challenging circumstances where heartworm preventatives were not administered. The cost and logistics of heartworm treatment often prevent shelters and rescues from treating this disease, which is deadly without treatment.


Lab Rescue successfully treats about 100 heartworm-positive dogs each year. We ensure the best possible medical treatment at one of our experienced partner veterinarians, at no cost to our adopters. Our commitment to the health and well-being of each and every dog means that no dog will be turned away because they have heartworm disease, and our treatment plan allows adopters to consider heartworm-positive dogs for their perfect match without the worry of a costly treatment they would need to navigate alone.

What is Heartworm Disease?

Heartworm disease is an infection in the dog’s lungs and heart from heartworms. These worms can be up to a foot long and, if left untreated, can cause serious health issues (even death in the most advanced cases). Because of the harmful nature of heartworm disease, regular administration of heartworm preventatives are the best possible choice for all dogs.

How Do Dogs Become Heartworm Positive?

Heartworm disease is transmitted by mosquito bite. It cannot be transmitted through saliva or fecal matter, and it is not contagious to other dogs, animals, or people. Once bitten by an infected mosquito, heartworm can take up to 6 or 8 months to show up on a blood test. So the best way to ensure that a dog never contracts heartworm disease is to administer its heartworm preventative year round and to test annually for heartworm disease.

What Should You Expect When Treating Heartworm?

At the time of treatment, each dog will have a brief stay at one of our experienced partner veterinarians, where they will receive a series of injections. When returning home, the dog will be on a strict rest period for 30 days. While a month-long rest might seem very challenging for dog and adopters alike, in the overall scheme of things, it is a short time to ensure a long, healthy life for your Lab. Learn more about the Rescue's heartworm treatment protocol >

Why are Adopters Required to Use a Vet Designated by Lab Rescue?

Thankfully, heartworm disease is not all that common in our area. However this means that the majority of veterinarians see very few, if any, cases each year. The veterinarians that Lab Rescue uses for heartworm treatment have extensive experience in all aspects of heartworm, from diagnosis, to treatment, and beyond. Since the Rescue's primary goal is to ensure the best medical care possible, we require adopters to use one of our experienced vets. These vets are located in the following areas:

  • Towson, MD

  • Buckeystown, MD

  • Arlington, VA

  • Disputanta, VA

  • Purcellville, VA

  • Mechanicsville, VA

  • Yorktown, VA

  • Raleigh, NC

  • Wake Forest, NC

Have more questions about heartworm?

Connect with Lab Rescue's Heartworm Specialist at 

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