Heartworm... Fact or Fiction?


Does Fido REALLY need Heartworm Preventative?

April is National Heartworm Prevention month and some pet owners are left wondering, "Does my dog really need heartworm prevention?" The answer? YES! But let's dig a little deeper into why...

Heart worm disease is serious stuff. It is a potentially fatal disease caused by the bite of a mosquito that results in long, spaghetti-like worms residing in your dog's heart. The blood vessels and lungs are affected as well. A dog with heart worm disease can have hundreds of worms living in its heart at once! This leads to heart and lung damage, then heart failure, and ultimately, death. Today, heartworm disease is regularly seen in all 50 states. Some owners mistakenly believe that dogs who live indoors for most of their lives are not at risk, but that is untrue. These pets go outside on walks and to use the bathroom. Mosquitoes also enter your home. But there are other important benefits to heart worm prevention that we need to discuss.

First and foremost, having your dog on medicine to prevent them from contracting heartworms is absolutely the most important thing. But as we all know, nothing in life is fool proof. Medications can fail, dogs can vomit them up, and we can forget to give them on time. Did you know that if you get your dog tested yearly with your veterinarian, and have an accurate record of purchase of a preventative, that the manufacturers will pay for your dog's treatment in the unlikely case that they become infected? That's amazing! Heartworm treatment can cost thousands of dollars and is most effective when instituted early. Additionally, heart worm preventatives serve another especially important function - they are de-wormers as well. This is incredibly important for our pets, but also public health, as roundworms can infect children and cause blindness. Other parasites that will be controlled are whipworms and hookworms, which both are also transmittable to humans. It's a win-win!

So, this April as the weather warms and spring showers move us into May flowers (and mosquitoes), make sure that your dog is protected. There are many options, including pills, topicals, and long-lasting injections - speak to your veterinarian about which one is right for you and your dog!

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