Heartworm Prevention

Most pet owners are aware that dogs contract heartworms after being bitten by an infected mosquito.  There is no other way for your dog to contract heartworms.  When there is a foot or two of snow on the ground, Ohio isn’t exactly overrun with mosquitoes.  So why is it important to keep your dog on prevention all year?

Heartworm prevention isn’t actually a literal preventative.  Instead, it works by killing heartworms in your pet’s tissues in the microfilaria stage.  If your pet has microfilaria in his/her system, heartworms will develop unless the preventative is given.  Also, preventatives such as Interceptor and Heartgard Plus do not remain in your pet’s body for an entire month but only for a matter of days.  It should be dosed once a month because it takes more than a month for microfilaria to develop enough to migrate from the tissues.

Due to the seasonal variations in this area that we seem to experience each year, warm whether can occur at any time.  This unpredictability can lead to lingering mosquito populations and a risk of infection to your dog if he or she is not on heartworm preventative year round.  Uninterrupted protection will guard your dog when we have a bout of warm weather or if you and your pet travel to a warmer client.

Heartworm preventatives don’t just treat heartworms but also cover some intestinal parasitic diseases like hookworm, roundworm, and whipworm infestations.  These parasite eggs can withstand extreme temperatures and can be present all year.  Additionally, roundworms and hookworms are considered zoonotic diseases, meaning they can be transmitted to pet owners and their children.

Lastly, it’s good to keep your dog on prevention every year in order to stay in the habit of giving your dog the medication each month.  The cost to prevent heartworm disease is minute, $40-78 a year depending on the size of your pet, when compared to treating an infected dog which can run several hundred dollars.  Preventatives are safe but treatment can be dangerous, so remember to give your pet his/her tablet each month!