Does your dog need year-round heartworm prevention? The short answer is yes, your dog truly does need heartworm prevention all year. But, to explain the reasons for this answer, let’s delve deeper into how heartworms affect your canine companion, and why administering year-round prevention is crucial. While the reasons why your pooch should take year-round heartworm prevention are infinite, here are the top seven.
#1: Kansas does not remain cold enough in the winter to adequately protect your dog from mosquitoes
Although Kansas winters can be pretty chilly, Mother Nature is a fickle female and may grant a warmer day during a frigid month. This single warm day can ruin a mosquito’s hibernation, enticing it to search for a meal, and potentially infect your dog with heartworms. A day with temperatures above freezing can also ruin your dog’s heartworm-negative status, if you failed to administer heartworm prevention all year round.
#2: Every state in the U.S. has documented heartworm cases
Kansas is no exception when it comes to positive heartworm cases. According to the Companion Animal Parasite Council, roughly one of every 100 dogs tested is carrying a heartworm load. This disease is a serious nationwide concern, and also affects many domestic and wild canines around the world. While heartworm disease cannot be transmitted directly dog-to-dog, the number of positive heartworm cases in your neighborhood correlates with your dog’s potential risk. If almost every dog on the block has heartworm disease, because their owners are unaware of the danger, your dog is at a higher risk for contracting this condition from area mosquitoes. Without adequate, year-round prevention, you are leaving your pooch exposed to possible disease.
#3: It takes only one missed preventive dose for a mosquito to infect your dog
Heartworm prevention can be a little confusing in its action mechanism that prevents heartworm disease, so let’s clear up the heartworm life cycle first. When an infected mosquito bites your dog, immature heartworms called microfilariae are injected into your pet. These microfilariae take months to develop through various life stages until they turn into full-fledged adults, which are much harder to kill. Similar to intestinal deworming products, heartworm preventives work retroactively, meaning they purge your pet’s system of microfilariae, preventing them from developing into the adults that cause serious disease. Flea and tick preventives function differently, and protect your pet from future infestations by warding off external parasites. If you miss a single dose of heartworm preventive, you allow the microfilariae to advance to the next larval stage, which is impervious to prevention, and will allow the immature worms to reach full development without interference.
#4: Heartworm disease causes irreparable damage to your dog’s circulatory system and lungs
While heartworms can attack the heart, they also do a great deal of damage to the surrounding blood vessels and the lungs as they migrate through the bloodstream to the heart. Once they set up shop and reach adulthood in the major vessels surrounding the heart and lungs, they create permanent scarring that can alter your dog’s respiratory and cardiovascular functions.
#5: Heartworm disease is much easier to prevent than to treat
Preventing heartworm disease is as simple as tossing your pup a tasty chewable pill once per month. Treating heartworm disease is much more complex and difficult, on you and your dog. The only approved heartworm adulticide is an arsenic compound, which is injected deep into your dog’s lumbar muscles, often as a series of injections, which routinely cause swelling, pain, inappetence, and general discomfort. While the adult worms are dying, your dog must be kept severely exercise-restricted for a minimum of four weeks to prevent a clot from forming. Between the pain of the injections and the exercise restriction, your pooch will be begging you to never forget administering heartworm prevention.
#6: Heartworm prevention is highly economical compared with heartworm treatment
A monthly dose of heartworm prevention costs less than a meal for one at a local restaurant. On the other hand, heartworm treatment can cost close to a mortgage payment. At Mill Creek Animal Hospital, before we begin heartworm treatment, we perform a comprehensive workup, including a thorough physical exam, blood work, and X-rays, to stage your dog’s heartworm disease, and to determine disease severity and the treatment protocol.
#7: We make it easy to purchase your dog’s heartworm prevention
With Mill Creek Animal Hospital’s online pharmacy, you never have to worry about missing another heartworm preventive dose. Schedule a monthly treatment to be shipped to your door, and immediately administer your dog’s heartworm prevention on delivery. With such a simple method, there’s no reason your dog should not receive year-round heartworm prevention.
If you have any questions about the best heartworm prevention option for your beloved pup, contact our knowledgeable Mill Creek Animal Hospital team for advice.