Protect That Gentle Heart – Heartworm Prevention

Your dog is susceptible to fatal heartworm disease whether he rarely goes outside or lives in the great outdoors. The mosquitoes that carry the disease can be found everywhere!
Heartworm disease is transmitted when an infected mosquito bites a dog, and the mosquito’s larvae invade the dog’s bloodstream. The attacking larvae then travel to the dog’s heart, where they mature into adult worms. Eventually, the mature parasite clogs the dog’s heart, preventing blood flow. Occasionally, a worm will become dislodged from the heart and act as a blood clot, causing a stroke. Heartworm disease is fatal if not diagnosed and treated. Once the dog is diagnosed with the illness, veterinarians can counter the disease, but only with an extremely expensive and rigid course of treatment. And, the effectiveness of this treatment depends largely upon how far the disease progressed prior to the administration of the remedy.

How to Protect Your Pup

The best way to protect your canine companion from this common and deadly disease is to prevent it with daily or monthly tablets, or with a new injection available from most veterinarians. The tablets vary in size, price, and taste, but each contains the correct amount of prevention. The injection lasts for six months and is relatively new in the United States.

When to Protect Your Pup

Most veterinarians suggest you start your puppy on a heartworm prevention regimen as soon as you adopt him. Many veterinarians recommend that you keep your dog on heartworm preventative year round, although some suggest summer-long protection only, depending on the area in which you live. Since the disease is fatal and expensive to treat, it is never a bad idea to consider year-round prevention regardless of your location.

Testing for Heartworm Disease

Sometimes, heartworm disease can be detected only after the parasite is in the bloodstream for six months. As a result, testing puppies for heartworm disease before they are six months old is usually inconclusive. Therefore, yearly testing alone can assure that your pet has not been in contact with the disease. Because a dog that tests positive to heartworm disease can get sick even if he has previously taken preventative medicine, veterinarians usually require that the dog be tested for heartworm if there has been any lapse in prevention. If the dog tests negative, heartworm prevention can start immediately. A follow-up blood test is usually recommended in six months.

by Rachelle Boatright