Dog Heartworm Prevention

Heartworms are parasites that are transmitted through mosquito bites. The infection with the parasite will show no early signs, and when detected it can be too late. Consequently, heartworm prevention is essential.

Heartworm Transmission and Development

Heartworms are roundworm parasites that can be contracted by mammals. The carriers of the parasites in the larvae stage are mosquitoes that have bitten an infected animal. The larvae will stay under the skin of the host for 1 week, after which, they will travel to the host's muscles, chest and stomach area. After 2 to 4 months, the larvae will enter the blood flow and travel towards the heart and pulmonary artery, where they reach adulthood about 7 to 10 months after the bite. The parasites can lodge in a host for 7 to 8 years. The parasites will live in the pulmonary artery of a dog and will damage the vessels of the lungs and the heart.

Why Choose Heartworm Prevention

The prevention of heartworms is important, as the infection can be fatal. An infected canine can have the parasite without showing any symptoms for up to 1 year. When the symptoms finally occur, the damage may be irreparable.

The prevention can be pricey, as prevention medication should be administered on a regular basis. However, the treatment of heartworms is even more expensive and can be very painful. In some cases, the treatment may not be efficient, as the parasites have already done a lot of damage in the dog's system.

Heartworm Prevention Options

Before starting any prevention treatment, the dog must be tested to establish if he is not already infected with the parasite. The test requires a blood sample and the results will show on the same day.

Heartworms may be prevented employing different methods. The most frequently used is a tablet that is taken orally, once per month. Ivermectin and Heartgard are the most common heartworm preventive drugs for dogs.

The most suitable age to start the prevention plan has not yet been clearly established, but the dog can start taking the drugs when he is between 6 and 12 months old. Talk about it with your vet and he will recommend a suitable time to start the prevention medication.

Some vets will establish a treatment plan that indicates taking medication only during the warmer months when there may be mosquitoes present. This depends on the region you live in. If you live in a warm climate, the prevention medication should be taken on a monthly basis.

Additional Heartworm Preventive Measures

As heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes, you can take some additional measures to eliminate mosquitoes. Use an efficient mosquito repellent and try to eliminate the mosquitoes from your home by using mosquito nets on windows. Get rid of mosquitoes from the pool or water buckets, as standing water attracts mosquitoes.

Even if the cost of the medication can be high, you should not risk your dog being infected by heartworms, especially if you live in an area where mosquitoes are common.