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Why Heartworm Prevention For Dogs Is So Vital

Updated on July 24, 2013
Alison Graham profile image

Alison is a freelance writer on health, nutrition, skincare, and pets, especially cats and dogs.

Prevention of Heartworm Is Easier Than Cure

Heartworm infection can be fatal for your dog so learn how to protect your pet with heart worm prevention with the advice in this article.

In this article we are going to look at why a heartworm prevention program is vital for your dog. As with most health problems in dogs, it is easier to prevent than to cure.

Heartworm preventative treatments for dogs are low risk and simple to administer, it is vital to the health of your dog and a great deal cheaper than trying to treat a dog once it has been afflicted with worms that have matured into adulthood. It would be very sensible to talk to your vet and begin a preventative treatment schedule as heartworm infestation can be devastating and sometimes fatal.

The worms take several months to mature and as they grow, they fill the heart, making it impossible for blood to be pumped to the lungs effectively. Concentrating your efforts on preventing your dog from becoming infected will avoid this awful outcome for your much loved pet.

Operation On A Dog Infected With Heartworms

A Heartworm Test Is The First Step

Heartworm testing is the preliminary part of any heartworm prevention treatment schedule.

  • Speak to your vet as he will be able to advise how often and when this testing should be carried out. Usually, this is an annual test even if your dog is already on a heartworm prevention program.
  • The test can often be carried out by your vet in his office as it comprises a simple blood test and a slide of your dogs blood will be examined under a high-power microscope to see if any of the juvenile worms called microfilariae are present.
  • The purpose of the testing is to ensure that your dog is not infected with adult heartworms; this is very important before starting or continuing with a heartworm prevention schedule.
  • The American Heartworm Society has published findings which show that probably only half of all dogs living in areas prone to heartworm are currently on a heartworm preventative program and of these, only about three quarters complete the course of treatment.

Seasonal or All Year Heartworm Protection?

There is a debate about whether dogs should be given the preventative medications all year round or just in the mosquito season. The American Heartworm Society's "Think 12 in 2012" campaign makes it clear that their advice is all year round.

However many people believe that any prevention treatment schedule should depend on the area you live in and how prevalent mosquitoes are, year round. It is these mosquitoes that carry the infection and convey it to your dog when they bite.

The best advice will come from your vet!

You should talk to your vet about the best course of treatment for your dog; in some areas treatment is for six months per year, in others, year round. There are several different brand-names in the arsenal of prevention medicines available to your vet. The general opinion is that the monthly medications are more effective than those given on a daily basis so these are likely to be your best choice in prevention of heartworm for your dog.

Need more information about Heartworm?

As you may be able to tell from my article, this is a subject I feel really passionate about. I teamed up with Jenny, a Lab Technician living in New Mexico to build a website packed with all sorts of information about Heartworm prevention, treatment and aftercare. I hope you will pay a visit to and please do leave me a comment and let me know what you think of the information there. We worked pretty hard to build a resource that we hope will be useful and helpful for dog owners everywhere - and if you have a story to share about how heart worm has affected a dog you own, or impacted on your family in some way, we would love to publish your story - you can get in touch either by contacting me via hubpages or by using the contact form on the website.


Don't Buy Cheap Heartworm Medication Online!

Prevention is pretty simple really but you must follow the advice your vet gives you and rely on this rather than some of the rather dubious and frankly, scare-mongering things that can be found on some internet sites. It really is not safe – and in fact, it is not legal, to purchase Ivermectin online that is really intended for the treatment of large animals to try to treat your dog without prescription.

Some online sites that have been advocating giving dogs medicines obtained in this way are at best irresponsible and at worst, almost criminal in my view as these Ivermectin treatments are much more concentrated than those intended for dogs and it is very difficult to work out how to dilute them down to the correct dose. If mistakes are made, unnecessary suffering and even death can result.

The Importance of Heartworm Prevention

What About Natural and Herbal Heartworm Preventatives?

There are natural heartworm prevention treatments available. These herbal products are intended to destroy heartworm larvae, preventing them from developing into the adults that cause such catastrophic damage.

If you are considering this method of heartworm preventative treatment, consult a holistic veterinarian rather than trying to treat your dog yourself. All holistic vets will tell you that it is vital that your dog is as healthy as possible in order to remain healthy during treatment and to avoid being overwhelmed by an infestation of heartworms.

This is the principle that ensures wild dogs – who by definition are going to get a far greater exposure to the mosquitoes that cause the problem than any domestic animal – manage to avoid the devastating effects of infestation in much larger numbers than family pets.

There are also homeopathic heartworm preventative treatments. These are usually given for several days each month, or every day. Again, you need to take the advice of a homeopathic or holistic veterinary surgeon before embarking on a course of treatment for your dog.

Do You Protect Your Dog From Heartworm Disease?

Please tell us what preventative treatments you give your dog

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Don't Let Your Dog Get Infected With Heartworm

Treatment of heartworm is possible but heartworm prevention for dogs is far better. Treatment is not only expensive, but it is traumatic and difficult. It takes a long time for the dog to get better and even then, there is very often irreparable damage to the heart so speak to your vet and begin a heartworm prevention treatment schedule for your dog as soon as possible.


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