Be Informed: Canine Heartworm Guidelines by the American Heartworm Society
You have probably heard and read a lot about heartworms in dogs before-from pet magazines, on TV, from your closest friends, from fellow pet owners and other sources. But do you know what the experts say about heartworms? To give you a clear idea about heartworms, the American Heartworm Society (AHS), a global organization involved in heartworm research, has set detailed guidelines for the diagnosis, prevention and management of heartworm disease in dogs. The AHS Guidelines are available in the group's website, but to make them simpler to understand, here is a low-down of the most important points:
- Test pets for heartworm infection every year.
All dogs should be tested for heartworm infection annually. Part of this testing involves the assessment of the pet's health before beginning any heartworm prevention program. For pets already taking heartworm preventive medication (also known as preventive), annual testing monitors if the prescribed preventive still works for the pet; if not, the vet can recommend a different one.
- Use preventives.
Dog owners need to give heartworm preventives to their pets. These medications can be given orally or topically. Veterinarians are the best persons to recommend which medication is appropriate for the pet.
- Do additional tests.
When switching prevention methods, it is necessary to do additional tests, as these check whether or not the pet has heartworm disease. If the dog is found to have heartworms, the vet will recommend a different set of medication for treatment.
- Implement year-round prevention.
The AHS also supports year-round prevention. Giving heartworm preventives monthly for a period of one year ensures full protection of the dog against heartworms. Depending on the medication used, it can also protect against other intestinal parasites. For instance, Advantage Multi, a topical medication, does not only prevent heartworms but also kills adult fleas and other intestinal parasites. Meanwhile, Heartgard, a tablet medication for heartworm prevention, has no effect against other parasites.These AHS guidelines have been created to inform the public about heartworm disease in dogs. These encourage veterinarians and pet owners to adopt standard procedures and ways to diagnose, prevent and manage the disease. If you want to protect your pet's health, be informed about heartworm disease because a clear understanding of it can help you make good decisions toward prevention and control. Now that you know what the experts say about heartworms, don't you feel that you now know how to prevent these parasites from infecting your dogs?