HEARTWORM PREVENTION

Today, we know more about heartworm disease and prevention than ever before and we strongly advise that all dogs, no matter their lifestyle and environment, remain on heartworm prevention all year.

Not only are they potentially exposed to the mosquitoes in our area 8 months of the year, it is important to remember that the heartworm preventatives on the market also worm the pet every month for the intestinal parasites which are hookworms, roundworms and whipworms. Every time your pet goes sniffing around outside, he or she is potentially in contact with worm eggs or larvae.

At our clinic, if your records substantiate the fact that your dog is on heartworm prevention 12 months a year, we do not make you retest every year.

There are many products available which provide heartworm prevention. Some are oral and some are topical. Let us help you choose a product which best suits your pet’s lifestyle. Some are recommended to be superior to other products due to the pet’s tolerance of the medications in the product. For instance, we recommend that the Collie and Sheltie breeds do not take Ivermectin based products. We can help you with these specific situations.

For those interested, an overview of the heartworm life cycle is below:

  • The adult mosquito bites an infected dog and draws in the sick animal’s blood.
  • The insect then flies over and bites your dog, injecting him or her with microfilaria.
  • The microfilaria, or baby heartworms, migrate down through the integumentary system, or deep skin system and make their way into the circulatory system. They travel around the bloodstream for 130 days then go to the heart, where they become adults, begin to breed and throw out microfilaria, or baby heartworms, into the bloodstream. Thus, the cycle continues over and over until your dog’s heart is clogged with adult worms.
  • By the time your dog is symptomatic, for instance, losing weight, slight cough, no energy, or swelling the legs, the heart has some or significant damage.

The treatment for the disease is successful most of the time and depends on the degree of heartworm disease. It is very expensive and time consuming. That said, most dogs do well during the treatment, but is so easy to avoid by simply giving the monthly preventative. Buying your heartworm prevention for the whole year saves $17.00 per pet, so consider that as an option.

And one myth buster: heartworm prevention does not repel mosquitoes!

Please call Hope Veterinary Clinic with any questions.