Dear Porky and Buddy,
My vet told me I need to give my dog, Spot, heartworm prevention medication, but it is so expensive and Spot hardly ever goes outside. Is it really necessary?
Or better yet, wait until he dies from heartworm.
We’re sorry to be cranky about this, but heartworm is a difficult-to-treat and potentially fatal disease in dogs.
A dog can get heartworm disease only through a mosquito bite.
But have you never had a mosquito in your house?
If the mosquito is carrying the heartworm larvae when it bites a pet, the disease is likely to be transmitted to the pet.
The larvae enter the bite wound and move through the pet’s body. The adult worms live in the heart, lungs, and nearby blood vessels, where they can grow up to 12 inches long.
They are really icky and destructive.
Most dogs with heartworm infection do not show any symptoms until the disease becomes severe.
At that stage, symptoms may include difficulty breathing, coughing, tiredness, reduced appetite and weight loss, and eventually lung, liver, kidney, or heart failure, leading to death.
Treatment for dogs is very expensive and potentially toxic, requiring multiple visits to the veterinarian, blood work and x-rays, and a series of injections.
Dogs need to be closely monitored during treatment and for up to 24 hours after treatment.
Following heartworm treatment, dogs should have restricted exercise for up to six weeks, because active dogs are at risk for death from a clot in the lungs.
Prevention is much easier than treatment because most heartworm preventive products are given to pets only once a month.
A variety of products are available by prescription only and they change from year to year, so you need to talk to your vet about what is best.
Some heartworm preventives are combined with other ingredients to kill fleas and some types of ticks and intestinal parasites.
Because pets that have heartworms may not show symptoms right away, your veterinarian will probably want to test Spot before prescribing heartworm preventive to make sure he is not infected.
Dogs are tested for heartworm using a simple blood test.
Talk to your veterinarian about testing and the best heartworm preventive program for you and Spot.
Heartworms have been found in all 50 states, but they are more commonly found in some areas of the country than others.
They are rampant in Oswego County and many untreated dogs suffer horribly from these infections.
Don’t let Spot be one of them.
Most local veterinarians recommend that you start the preventative medications in May and continue them through November, so you need to do this soon.
Did we mention that untreated dogs suffer horribly from these infections?
Are you feeling guilty? Good.
And for crying out loud, why does Spot not go outside? Take him for a walk!
The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County.
Our office has relocated to 110 W. Second St., Oswego, NY.
Phone: (315) 207-1070.
Email: [email protected]
Because People and Pets Are Good for Each Other!