Why do we spend so much time and effort on heartworm testing and prevention at LCHS?

Unfortunately, we’ve seen loss secondary to side effects of heartworm disease more times than we’d like to remember. There was the pregnant dog whose heart gave out before she went into labor. Then there was the sweet dog who formed a blood clot that caused paralysis of his hind legs. These cases remind us what could happen if this preventable disease isn’t treated in time. And makes us focus that much harder on prevention.

Heartworm disease is spread by mosquitos biting an infected dog and then biting an unprotected dog. After that happens, heartworm disease travels to the bloodstream where new adult worms grow in the heart. This process can take 4-5 months from the point of the mosquito bite to the time when a dog would test positive on a blood test. Prevention however is only effective for 1-2 months of this life cycle. When the worms become adults, it’s too late for prevention, and a different treatment is required. It’s also hard to gauge when the last and first mosquitos of the season will be out. It’s not uncommon to see mosquitos on warm winter days in January. Traveling to warmer areas during the winter with your dog increases heartworm risk. These are all why we recommend year-round heartworm prevention for your furry loved ones.

There are many choices for heartworm prevention but all require a prescription from your veterinarian. These options include 6-12 month injections, monthly chewables, or monthly topicals. Now, several options cover heartworm prevention and intestinal parasites, fleas, and ticks. Talk to your vet about the best option for your pet and lifestyle. It’s one of the best things you’ll ever do to protect your pet.