Preventing heartworms in dogs is smarter, better for the dog's health and more economical for owners than treating dogs after they've become infected, according to experts. Heartworm disease is a potentially deadly mosquito-borne disease caused by worms that grow as long as 12 inches and live as long as seven years. The worms can block blood vessels in the lungs and heart, and treatment can also be hazardous, notes veterinarian Stephen Jones, president of the American Heartworm Society. It's much simpler and better for the dog's health to use a monthly heartworm prevention medication.

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