Protect Your Dog's Heart, Prevent Heartworm Disease


If you are a responsible dog owner, then caring for your dog's heart should be one of your top priorities. This means keeping it healthy and safe from all kinds of diseases, including heartworms, spaghetti-like worms that can affect a dog's heart. Transmitted by mosquitoes, heartworms pose serious health risks to thousands of dogs throughout the world each year.

Heartworm disease blocks the heart's ability to pump out blood, leading to health complications and even resulting to death, if left untreated. Treatment is possible with proper medications and veterinary support-but why do you have to wait for infection when you can help prevent the disease?

According to a brochure by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), heartworm disease is almost 100% preventable in dogs. This is good news for dog owners as they can spare their pets the pain of infection and the risk of undergoing treatment.

article4_bq.jpgPrevention of heartworm disease is easier, safer and more economical as opposed to treatment. It is also the best way to show that you care for your pet's heart. Prevention should have the following components: regular/annual blood test, preventive medications and a clean, mosquito-free environment.

Get Regular/Annual Blood Test

A blood test is crucial before beginning a prevention program. It checks whether the pet has existing heartworm infection or not. The veterinarian administers this test; he or she can advise the best prevention method based on your pet's lifestyle and risk factors.

For monitoring, it is recommended that you visit the vet for annual re-testing to ensure that the appropriate medication is being given.

Administer Preventive Medications

Heartworm preventives are effective if administered properly to the pet. You can avail of a variety of medications, among which include monthly tablets, chewables and topicals. Leading brands are Heartgard tablets and Revolution topical application. Heartgard and Revolution contain Ivermectin and Selamectin respectively-these are chemicals that effectively kill heartworms. Meanwhile, generic heartwormers such as NuHeart are cheaper alternatives to the branded ones.

The American Heartworm Society (AHS) recommends year-round prevention. In a 2006 article, former AHS President Dr. Charles Thomas Nelson explains: "By giving preventives year round, there is a better chance that a missed dose will not lead to a heartworm infection."

In addition, since most of heartworm medications also prevent other parasites like fleas, ticks, roundworms, hookworms, and the like, year-round administration defends your dog and the whole family against these parasites.

Keep a Clean, Mosquito-Free Environment

A good way to reduce the risk of heartworm infection is to maintain a clean environment. A well-sanitized home is less inviting to mosquitoes, which may be potential carriers of the disease. Remember to clean the yard or garden as well. Regularly use outdoor insecticides and keep things dry as mosquitoes most often breed in stagnant water.

Also, keep mosquitoes out of the house. You can do this by keeping the windows shut during hot weather because mosquitoes thrive most during this season. Having tight-fitting windows and door screens can help. If you find a tear in your window screen, fix it right away, as even the smallest hole makes it easy for mosquitoes to enter.

As much as possible, keep your dog indoor at all times, especially in the late afternoons and early evenings because mosquitoes are most active and in search of food at these times.

Act Now

Heartworm prevention in dogs is attainable when done correctly and early. Remember that you need not wait for your dog to acquire the infection before you act on it. As long as you know the proper preventive measures and implement them right away, you can certainly protect your dog from heartworm disease. Show your pet how much you care, why don't you start your own prevention now?