Many dog owners believe heartworm disease only occurs during the summer, but the truth is our animal’s hearts can be affected by heartworms in any season. A dog’s heart needs protection from heartworms throughout the entire year, not just during the warmer months!
Heartworm disease is spread by parasites that are transferred through your dog’s blood by mosquitoes. When a mosquito bites another animal with heartworms, it becomes a carrier of heartworm disease. While both dogs and cats can be affected, cats are considered an atypical host for heartworms. Therefore, your dog lives at a much greater risk of contracting heartworm disease.
However scary heartworms may seem, the steps to prevention can be simple and affordable.
Step 1: Make Annual Vet Visits
Schedule an annual appointment with your veterinarian to stay on top of heartworm disease prevention! Because the earliest signs of heartworm disease often go unnoticed, the best way to prevent disease is by visiting your vet regularly. Although your pet may already be on a monthly preventative, an annual heartworm test can ensure the preventative is effective. Even the best heartworm preventions cannot make your animal immune to the disease.
The heartworm test involves taking a small blood sample from your pet. Your veterinarian will test the blood for signs of parasites and move forward with treatment as needed. Lastly, discuss any further concerns about your dog’s behavior or health with your vet. Moving forward, this will allow your vet to have accurate records to make the best decision for your dog.
Step 2: Follow A Monthly Prevention Plan
At your annual visit, discuss the use of a monthly heartworm medication with your vet. Staying diligent about your dog’s monthly heartworm medication can help you and your pet from ever having to address heartworm disease. Preventative heartworm medications can come in topical, oral, or injectable forms. The injectable heartworm medication is typically administered by your vet every six months. The topical and oral medications are given monthly. Oral medication options are traditionally available in a chewable or tablet form.
Some of FarmVet’s more popular Heartworm Preventatives include Heartgard, Sentinel, Tri-Heart, and Revolution. Already have a prescription? Shop all of these brands Here!
Be sure to consider the best type of medication for both yourself AND your pet! After discussing your options, your veterinarian will be able to prescribe your dog the appropriate heartworm medication.
Step 3: Watch For Symptoms
Dogs typically do not exhibit visual signs of heartworms in the early stages of the disease. The lack of symptoms can make it nearly impossible to diagnose. At the time heartworm disease becomes apparent in your dog’s behavior, the heartworms are most likely to have already affected their heart and lungs. However, knowing the visible symptoms of heartworm disease can help you solve your pup’s heartworm problem more quickly.
Here are the ways heartworms present themselves in dogs:
- Light, but persistent coughing
- Lessened or total loss of appetite
- Abnormally bloated stomach
- Fatigue after minimal activity
The Take Away:
By watching your pet’s overall well-being, making annual visits to your vet, and using a monthly heartworm prevention plan, you can dramatically lower your pet’s risk of disease. With these tools in mind, both you and your pet can enjoy a healthier and happier lifestyle!
Your dog’s love and companionship helps protect your heart from sadness, so take the time to protect their heart this year!
Quick Tip: Sign into the “My Account” section at FarmVet.com to fill out your Pet and Veterinarian Contact Information before you start shopping. This will help speed up your check-out process and get your animal’s medication to you as soon as possible.