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Heartworm Prevention For Dogs.......What Works Best?

Updated on July 9, 2014

Heartworm Prevention For Dogs.......What Works Best?

Heartworm prevention for dogs is a subject that is on the minds of so many dog owners today.

Here is some valuable information and a few tips that I hope will help you make an informed decision for your dog.

What is the Best Heartworm Medicine For Dogs?

The two biggest questions dog owners seem to have is "What is the best heartworm preventative?" and "Is there a natural heartworm preventative that works?"

We moved to the Gulf Coast after living in Colorado for many years. Our dog Elly had never been on heartworm meds as we lived at a higher altitude. We had now arrived in "mosquito country" so we knew we would need to get her on something right away. We did lots of research and this is what we found.

There is no known proven natural alternative medications on the market similar to products like Interceptor and Heartguard. We did not want to use these medications with our dog in the beginning, but because we were now in such a mosquito prone area, the alternative was to worry all the time about whether or not she might get Heartworms.

If you use these oral monthly products, they are relatively safe and only remain in your dog's body for a few days following administration. We did not realize that. We thought it stayed in the dog's system. Our vet said that it totally clears out within 72 hours so that made us feel a lot better.

Now having said all that, we are firm believers in taking a very holistic approach to our dog's health. We have her on a very high quality Holistic dog food and we give her natural dog supplements for her skin and coat. We also treat our lawn with beneficial nematodes to help get rid of fleas and other pesky intruders.

If we lived in an area that was less prone to mosquitoes, we would probably consider giving her a natural alternative, which would be our first choice. However, because of our location, we didn't feel like that was an option.

best heartworm prevention for dogs
best heartworm prevention for dogs

So, What Did We Decide To Use With Elly?

The medication that we decided to put Elly on was Interceptor and she has done quite well on it. No side effects at all that we can tell. She is a 14 year old Aussie mix.

We were really worried about side effects but there is such a small dose of the medicine that the side effects if any are very minimal.

We chose to give it to her every 6 weeks rather than monthly. We have talked with vets that have said that the monthly suggestion is actually for convenience to the pet owner and that 6 week intervals are just fine.

We also feel like this is a more conservative approach that we feel comfortable with. Again, we are not advocating this, just sharing what we decided to do.

We contribute much of how she responded to having her on a very healthy, holistic dog food . The general rule is......... healthy immune system equals healthy dog.

Heartworm prevention boils down to a personal choice on your part. In our opinion, where you live makes a huge difference in what you choose for your dog. We lived in Colorado for over 11 years and had no problems at all.

Some people there do use a heartworm preventative , we are not advocating not using it, it's just that we felt like her risk of getting heartworms was very minimal.

Natural Heartworm Prevention For Dogs

There are several good natural heartworm preventatives that do work well and have good feedback from dog owners.

PetAlive Parasite Dr is a 100% herbal remedy specially formulated to promote digestive health and balance, cleanse the blood and support the immune system.

As an added bonus, Parasite Dr. also helps to cleanse the digestive system and promote healthy digestive functioning.

Parasite Dr. Capsules Naturally Expel Internal Parasites Like Heartworm, Roundworm and Tape Worm in Pets

Herbal preventatives work by using herbs instead of pesticides. Remember, regular testing for heartworms, at least every 6-12 months, is absolutely necessary regardless of what method you choose for prevention.

The most important thing is to do your homework so you can make a good informed decision. The more knowledge you arm yourself with, the better decision you will make for your dog.

Should I Give My Dog A Heartworm Medication or Not?

Depending on where you live, choosing a method of heartworm control may be a difficult decision.

Residents of the Pacific Northwest are fortunate and do not have a heartworm problem. Those living in the Southeastern states and on the Gulf Coast, however, must deal with the issue year-round.

If you live in an area where the risk of heartworm infestation is high, the decision of whether or not to use conventional heartworm medications to prevent heartworm infestation is one that should be guided by careful research and consultation with a holistic veterinarian.

Dog Heartworm Prevention.........4 Tips That Can Help!

1. A healthy immune system can help to prevent heartworms in your dog. Dogs with lowered immune systems are much more susceptible to parasites and disease so make sure and get your dog on a holistic dog food. What your dog eats has a direct affect on their immune system and overall health.

Also, make sure whatever food you decide on is a high quality food. You would be shocked at what some dog food companies are allowed to put into a dog's food. So make sure that the first thing you do is get your dog the proper nutrition. Nutrition is key to everything else.

2. Find a vet that takes a more holistic view of your dog. A lot of vets, and unfortunately doctors too, just seem to want to treat the symptoms rather than trying to get your dog in better health. So find a vet you feel comfortable with and that you trust.

3. Do research yourself on the internet. Researching will help educate you so that when you do talk with a vet you can trust, you will already have an education under your belt.

4. Finally, remember the decision is ultimately yours. You decide what's best for your dog.

So How Do Dogs Get Heartworms?

Dogs contract heartworms when they are bitten by a mosquito that has already bitten another animal that was infected. The immature heartworm larvae (microfilaria) must go through a period of development within the mosquito.

The process of change in the mosquito takes about 10 days in warm climates, but can take six weeks in colder temperatures, although the average mosquito only lives 30 days.

Development of the larvae in the mosquito requires a temperature at or above 80 degrees Fahrenheit for about two weeks. No larval development takes place in the mosquito below 57 degrees F.

The larvae are passed from the mosquito onto (not into) the dog, or less commonly, the cat. The larva is deposited in a tiny drop of mosquito saliva adjacent to the mosquito bite.

For transmission to occur, there must be adequate humidity to prevent evaporation of this fluid droplet before the larvae can swim through the mosquito bite and into the new host.

They live near the skin for a time, then migrate to the heart and are mature in about 5-7 months after entering the dog's system.

In light of this complicated life cycle in need of optimal conditions, some areas of the country just do not see many heartworm problems occur.

Many veterinarians recommend year-round treatment even though conditions are only conducive for heartworm during the summer months in some areas.

On the other hand, high humidity southern states along the gulf coast can see mosquitoes year round. It is wise, therefore, to use some type of preventative, whether natural or conventional, on a year round basis.

Again, become an informed guardian. Knowledge is power so educate yourself, know all your options, and then make the best decision for your faithful companion. They are counting on you!

Heartworm Prevention Feedback

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    • profile image

      Daniel Anderson 

      6 years ago

      Our dog is also a shelter animal and I don’t know about heartworm, I guess it’s time for me to visit our vet for more information.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      @BlueStarling: My dog is also a shelter animal and came to me with heartworm I believe. I used an herbal/supplement combination and saw improvement in about four days! The treatment was comprised of black walnut, wormwood, yarrow, Co-Q10 and MSII. You can check the treatment out at the Bailey's Buddies website. The treatment took longer than the conventional one from the vet but was much easier on the animal and much more affordable! Good luck!!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      @EmergencyPrepar: Heartworm is transmitted by misquito bites. If the area you live in is warm and heartworm is a problem there I would recommend heartworm medication. Talk to your vet about it!

    • CandiceE profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      @EmergencyPrepar: It's really a personal decision. Being on the Gulf Coast your dog is at a greater risk for getting heartworms. I would talk to my vet and then make a decision.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      We also are on the gulf coast. We have a small chihuahua and I always worry about all the things he could get BUT he is more of a lap dog and stays on leash when we go out. He was on heartworm but now I have him just on the Frontline for ticks/fleas, etc...not for heartworm. He is not with other dogs or outside where other dogs are so not sure if I should worry about heartworm. Anyone know?

    • Keepingscore profile image


      8 years ago

      Very interesting and great lens.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I adopted a dog (the little guy in my photo) who had heartworm. The treatment is arsenic, and some dogs don't survive treatment. Two treatments were required 2 months apart, and for those two months he could not play, run, walk up steps. It was a rather difficult time, and I was so relieved when the 2 months passed and he was fine. All my dogs have been on Interceptor since, and have yearly HW tests. Heartworms only came into this area a relatively short time ago. An informative and useful lens that anyone who has dogs needs to read. I had thought HW's were transmitted through the mosquito bite and did not understand the cycle.

    • profile image

      Wedding Mom 

      10 years ago

      I've often heard of Heart worms that Dogs might get and I just couldn't figure out what really it is. Thank so much for a very informative and helpful lens. Great Job!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Nice Squidoo. Very enjoyable and interesting to read. Chris

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Great Lens and very informative information


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