To help understand how to prevent heartworm disease, it’s helpful to know the origins of heartworm disease. It all starts with the bite of a mosquito. The baby heartworms, also known as microfilaria, circulate in the bloodstream and a mosquito will bite an infected pet and then transfer the heartworms to a susceptible pet. After transmission of the heartworms to the susceptible pet, the microfilaria migrates in the body toward the heart and then an adult heartworm grows in the chambers of the heart. It’s a worm shaped like spaghetti and lives where the blood is being pumped around, obstructing the flow of blood and causing serious reactions. Do you really want your pet going through that pain and ‘heartache’?
Heartworm prevention is a popular topic among veterinarians and pet parents. What could be easier and better for your pet than giving them a simple medication each month to help prevent them from contracting heartworm disease? It really is simple. Here is an overview of how heartworm medication works for your pet:
Oral and topical monthly heartworm preventives kill “baby” heartworm infections that have occurred from mosquito bites over the past month. After approximately 2 months of infection with no protection, the heartworm preventive will be ineffective because the heartworm larvae are too developed. Then, the pet has to undergo adult heartworm treatment, which is more expensive and dangerous, which involves deep muscle injections of an arsenic-based drug that kills the adult heartworms. Problems can arise when that many heartworms are dying in the pet’s lungs and heart and could lead to severe reactions.
So, how can you prevent heartworm disease in your pet? Here are four options:
Heartgard PLUS Dog Chews are a monthly beef-flavored chewable that provides protection against heartworms and treats and controls roundworms and hookworms.
Heartgard Cat Chewables help prevent heartworm disease and remove and control infections of hookworms. As part of an ongoing prevention program, simply give your cat a Heartgard chewable once a month and use as otherwise directed by your veterinarian.
Sentinel Flavor Tablets are for dogs and inhibit flea egg development before they become adults. It also protects dogs against heartworm, roundworm, hookworm and whipworm.
Revolution® Dog is a topical parasiticide that is applied to the base of the neck each month and enters the bloodstream through the skin. It protects dogs against heartworm disease, fleas and other parasites. The monthly application kills adult fleas and prevents flea eggs from hatching, and is effective against the American dog tick, ear mites and canine sarcoptic mange.
Revolution® Cat is a topical parasiticide that is applied to the base of the neck each month and enters the bloodstream through the skin. It protects cats against fleas, ear mites, roundworm and hookworm infections, and heartworm disease. The monthly application kills adult fleas and prevents flea eggs from hatching.
Trifexis® Tablets for Dogs is a beef flavored monthly chewable that kills fleas, prevents heartworm disease, and treats and controls adult hookworm, whipworm and roundworm infections. Trifexis combines two trusted active ingredients, spinosad and milbemycin oxime, to provide protection for your dog.
All prescription heartworm medications require a prescription and your dog must pass a heartworm test before a new prescription will be given. We recommend discussing heartworm preventative options with our Clinic and Wellness Center veterinarians to find an option that will work best for your pet. If you have questions about heartworm prevention feel free to visit our staff at a Community Clinic near you.