It used to be that we thought about heartworm disease in the spring, when mosquito season started. Here's some important reasons to consider preventing this disease year-round.
Heartworm (dirofilaria immitis) is a parasite of dogs (and occasionally cats) that is transmitted by the bite of a mosquito. Once heartworm disease develops, it can have serious or even fatal effects on the heart and lungs.
Treatment for heartworm disease is complex, costly, and potentially dangerous in a dog whose body has been compromised by the presence of adult worms.
Heartworm disease is increasing in Colorado and Larimer County, with over 300 cases reported in Colorado last year.
The good news is that heartworm disease can be prevented by administering a monthly chewable tablet, which also serves as a dewormer for intestinal parasites. For more about intestinal parasites, click here.
We recommend that all dogs be tested for heartworm disease yearly, as well as receive year-round monthly heartworm prevention. The year-round dosing helps to avoid forgetting to stop and start the pills at the right time, and also provides a monthly deworming against intestinal parasites that can be transmitted to you or your family.
Special note: although cats are not the typical hosts for heartworm disease, they can contract it. We may discuss starting outdoor cats on heartworm preventive to help prevent infection.
In the past, for dogs who were receiving Heartgard Plus year-round, Friendship Hospital for Animals only required a heartworm test every other year. We have received some new information we would like to pass along to you.
The manufacturers of Heartgard Plus recommend that all dogs are tested YEARLY for heartworm disease, in addition to receiving year-round heartworm prevention. For animals who fulfill these requirements and who still develop a heartworm infection, the manufacturer may provide reimbursement for disease treatment.
Testing is very quick and easy, requiring only 4-5 drops of blood and giving results in just 8 minutes.
If you still prefer to remain on an every-other-year testing schedule for heartworm disease in your dog, please let a team member know.
Please let us know if we can answer any other questions about heartworm disease, testing, or prevention.
Also see the the American Heartworm Society's website for the most up to date information from the experts!