Posts Tagged ‘heartworm prevention’

Happy Heartworm Disease Free Year!

Saturday, January 1st, 2011

I should say something profound, on this, the first day of 2011.

Maybe this is SO simple that it is REALLY, REALLY profound.

One of my goals this year is to remind everyone to give their pets their heartworm preventative every month.  (We give the dogs and Max theirs on the first, so that is when reminders will go out!  I am willing to give you personalized reminders on a different day if you prefer…and a hug*, for being as heartworm obsessed as me!)

Today, Joy the Puppy, Ebony Dog and Noodle the Poodle got their oral Wormshield (ivermectin, like Heartgard).  Several excellent oral monthly preventatives are available, as are topical preventatives.  Your pet may also be on the twice a year injectable preventative, Proheart.  Next month, I will post a list of available preventatives, if it would be helpful.  If your veterinarian prescribed it, it is good!

Next month, Joy the Puppy is switching to Proheart.

Max the Cat is on the monthly topical heartworm preventative Revolution.

We have no ferrets, but if we did, they would be on the oral heartworm preventative Heartgard, mostly because it is the only one labelled for ferrets, but also because it is an excellent product.

This post is sort of spur of the moment, as in, I jumped up from dinner and said “Oh yeah, it’s the first!” and Abby and I got the pets their meds.  Next month, I will cover heartworm disease more comprehesivly with links and pictures – NOT of a heart with worms floating out of its valves – that is so gross, and so last millinium! I will also cover whatever aspects of heartworm disease that you would like to hear, so let me know!

These days, it seems most pet owners are very well educated about heartworm disease – If there is a barrier to care, it is convenience of medicating. So we will talk about the monthly preventatives and a bit about Proheart, the once every six month medication, and join hands* and thank God that heartworm disease is preventable and that the preventative medication is no longer only available in ONCE EVERY SINGLE DAY form!

*If you prefer, we can leave hugs and hand holding out of all future medical discussions.  I just thought it would be nice.

Heartworm Disease

Monday, January 1st, 2007

Heartworm disease is not a winter disease, especially here in Nebraska.  So I thought this would be a perfect time to discuss it.  You can think through your New Year’s Resolution.  Your resolution, if I can be so bold as to make it for you, is to never have to deal with heartworm disease in Real Life. Incidentally, that is my resolution also. You, as a pet owner of one or two dogs, have a better chance of reaching this goal than I do as a veterinarian of hundreds of dogs.  Still, I am resolved.

Heartworm disease is primarily a disease of canines. If you have a cat or ferret, skim this article and keep it at the back of your mind, as they too are at risk.  If you have children, know this could be a relevant article, but only in the sense that this is One More Thing You as a Parent Could Face, But Probably Won’t.  If you have no pets or children, think of all the things you could be doing with your precious ten minutes and then go do one of them!

Finally, Dog Owners, listen up. You need to consider heartworm disease now, so that you can keep your New Year’s Resolution to never deal with it in Real Life.  I would like you to read this article, take the preventative measures you need to take, then NEVER think about heartworm disease again, except in the very superficial, automatic sense of giving your pup his or her treat once a month and getting a heartworm test once a year.  I would also like you to sound a little bit bored when I call you each year to say your pet’s test was negative.  Yawn as you answer and say (like you said the year before and will say the next), “Well, yeah, I figured.”

Heartworm disease is caused by a parasite—a big white worm that starts off tiny enough to live in a mosquito.  The mosquito bites a dog; the larvae travel to his or her heart and pulmonary vessels, grow into a huge mass of wriggling pasta, and cause considerable damage to the cardiac and respiratory systems, including coughing, lethargy, and often sudden death.

Heartworm disease is treatable, today more so than ever.  Long ago, the disease was treated surgically — vets would remove the worms from the pulmonary vessels and heart with a hook.   Sort of barbaric, yes, but the 50% or so who survived did well.  Then a drug was discovered that was incredibly toxic to the pet, but would kill heartworms, and survival rates went way up.  Now, we use a series of two injections of a newer, safer drug. Pets are usually hospitalized for treatment and it is still hard on them, but in the long run, they do great.

So here is how to keep your New Year’s Resolution to never deal with heartworm disease in Real Life.  Find out when your dog’s last heartworm test was.  If it was not in the past year, get it scheduled.  It will take all of 15 minutes to have blood drawn and get a result back.  Get out your new calendar, and write, “Give heartworm medication” on April 1.  Or better yet, take the cute little heart sticker out of your box of heartworm preventative and put it on the first.  Now do that for every month through November.  Every time you come to a sticker day, give the preventative.  If you do not live in Nebraska, call your veterinarian, ask what he or she does with their own pets, and follow that schedule.

Many vets, as well as the American Heartworm Society, are recommending heartworm prevention year-round for all dogs, no matter what part of the country they live in, because it does exist everywhere, many people travel with their pets and mosquito-killing weather is not always predictable.  But as I mentioned, it is a pretty safe bet to ask your vet what he or she does and do that.  (See Dad, I was listening when you said “I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day…”)

For what it’s worth, my two dogs, Ebony and Noodle, get their heartworm prevention monthly April through November and a yearly test.  Sometimes I even forget to tell my husband when their tests are negative, but if I do tell him, he sounds a little bit bored, and says, “Well yeah, I figured…”