Happy Heartworm-Free May!

January

February

March

April

Actually we have had two cases of heartworm disease this spring, which is really discouraging.  Another sobering fact – last year Banfield Pet Hospital diagnosed over 5000 cases of heartworm disease in dogs!  I did not hear how many cases were treated or how the dogs did, but FIVE THOUSAND!  Granted, there are 750 + Banfields across the country, but that is still so many for a disease that is 100% preventable.  As a community of pet people, we can do so much better.  The number will not be zero this year (It will be at least two) but I hope it is WAY lower than 5000!

This month’s topic…

Proheart 6

Where does Proheart 6 fit into the world of heartworm preventative medication?

Proheart 6 is an injectable sustained release medication labeled for dogs only (not cats or ferrets).  Its active ingredient is moxidectin, which, like the heartworm larvae killing component of all of the oral and topical preventatives available, is a macrocyclic lactone.  Moxidectin is also found in Advantage Multi, a combination topical heartworm-flea preventative that is applied monthly.  Proheart 6 is also labeled to treat hookworms.

Why is Proheart 6 only given every six months?

The moxidectin in Proheart 6 is in a sustained release formula, which means medication is constantly released over several months.  It stays in the dog’s body at therapeutic levels for six months, after which it tapers off to levels that are both ineffective to kill heartworm larva and are also safe when combined with another full dose.

Will Proheart 6 save the world?

No.

Pfizer recommends that veterinarians not give Proheart to dogs who are too thin, dogs who are ill, puppies under six months of age, and dogs who have not had Proheart before the age of seven.  If they have had Proheart before the age of seven, they may then have it at any age.  They also recommend that Proheart not be given to dogs who have allergic dermatitis.  Generally, allergic dermatitis includes any allergies, food, inhalant, or contact allergies that manifest as itching or skin problems.  Reactions to Proheart may occur.

Who should be on Proheart 6?

Every other dog, unless he or she has issues your veterinarian has deemed incompatable with injectable moxidectin, should be considered for Proheart 6.  I really think this is a great tool in the fight against heartworm disease.  Joy the Puppy had her first dose of Proheart 6 on February 1, 2011 and has done great.

Things to consider when deciding whether to use Proheart 6:

  • Proheart 6 is an injection given every six months (thus the clever name).  You have two chances a year to space giving your pets’ heartworm preventative instead of twelve!
  • Even better, the responsibility, at least in part, for remembering your pets’ heartworm preventative switches from you to your veterinary team!  You will receive a reminder when the time for Proheart is approaching, and the visit itself will be a quick one, or incorporated with a biannual wellness exam you would already have planned.
  • The cost of Proheart tends to be similar to that of monthly topical and oral heartworm preventative medications.
  • You will not be tempted to flout the American Heartworm Society‘s year-round heartworm prevention recommendations and guess at future weather patterns  and presence of mosquitoes in those iffy (AND VERY DANGEROUS AS HEARTWORM RISK GOES!) spring and fall seasons, as the twice yearly Proheart administration will protect your pet all year.
  • You could put a box of chocolates for yourselves on that safe-from-pets tip-top shelf where you used to keep the box of heartworm preventatives.

Great Heartworm Posts I Have Read This Month:

“Reading About Heartworm is One Thing, Watching a Dog Suffer is Another” – guest post by Pet Saver Ashley on Dawg Business by Jana Rade

“Don’t Let Heartworm Become Heartbreak” – guest post by Awesome Veterinarian Lorie A. Huston on Dawg Business by Jana Rade

…And maybe the best, and also the most discouraging, heartworm post I have read this month is on heartworm preventative resistance:

Heartworm Prevention for Dogs:  New Concepts and Concerns – by Lorie A. Huston, DVM on her website, Pet Health Care Gazette

Yes, heartworm preventative resistance does indeed seem to be a reality in a very, very small portion of the dog population…*sigh*  I was hoping it was not.  But I trust Dr. Blagburn, one of the very best veterinary parasitologist in the world – I have always very much admired his work, and I trust Dr. Huston…It sure looks as if it is true.  All the more reason to be neurotically vigilant about heartworm prevention…And because Proheart is so easy and convenient, you can be vigilant without being neurotic…if you want.

Tomorrow’s Checklist…

Noodle the Poodle – Wormshield tablet

Max the Cat – topical Revolution

(Joy the Puppy is on injectable Proheart 6.  Perhaps I will spend the few saved minutes reading her this post.  Naw, I will give her a cookie!)

 

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2 Responses to “Happy Heartworm-Free May!”

  1. Shan says:

    Hi Dr Finch,

    Do you ever recommend an herbal remedy for the ridding of heart worm? Our rescue momma dog has heart worms and for 20 wks has been on “HeartWorm Free” by Amber Technologies. She was doing great with no obvioius signs of heart worm… until two wks ago. She is now experiencing fatigue after energy exertion. No cough and otherwise very energetic.
    Our vet saw her just recently and said she looks really good. But we weren’t ready for any blood work just yet.
    Just curious about your opinion of this.

  2. Hi Shan!

    Immiticide is the only heartworm treatment I recommend. It is very safe and very effective. Heartworm disease is still hard on the dogs, so it is still a difficult and and potentially risky thing to go through, but SO worth treating!

    I am sorry to hear about your Rescue Momma. So glad she has you! See what your vet thinks about adding heartworm treatment to her regimen. Let me know how she does.

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