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Heartworm Prevention Basics

April 1, 2017

It’s April, and that means that it’s Heartworm Awareness Month! When it comes to heartworms, preventing an infestation is much simpler and less expensive than dealing with it after the fact. Here, your Omaha, NE veterinarian answers some common questions.

Why Prevent Heartworms?

A heartworm infestation is one of the most difficult parasitic infestations to treat after it has happened. Treatment is expensive and time-consuming—it may take up to several months before an infestation is completely eradicated—and some dogs don’t survive if the problem isn’t caught early enough. In addition, treatment itself comes with risks. Killing heartworms already present in your dog’s bloodstream can obstruct blood flow through your dog’s body, leading to coughing, fever, and other more serious symptoms.

Preventing a heartworm infestation entirely doesn’t pose any of these risks—all things considered, it’s the only sensible option!

What’s Heartworm Medication Like?

Heartworm preventatives come in various forms. Most commonly, your dog will be prescribed a topical gel product that you will apply to your pooch’s skin once a month or in multi-month increments. Sometimes, heartworm preventatives can come in pill or chewable-tablet form. There are even injectable heartworm preventatives, given to your dog by a professional via a syringe.

For more information on the various types of heartworm medication, as well as advice on what type might work best for your dog, contact your vet’s office.

Should I Use Seasonal or Year-Round Preventatives?

Some heartworm medications are designed to be given to your pet year-round, while some are made for seasonal use. The majority of the time, veterinarians recommend the year-round medication to provide maximum protection at all times. These preventatives can also help to protect your dog against other intestinal parasites, including some that may be zoonotic (able to be transmitted to humans). However, if you live in an area where heartworms are only a seasonal issue, the seasonal preventatives may be recommended. Talk to your veterinary professional for additional details.

How Do I Get My Dog Heartworm Medication?

If you would like to get your dog set up with proper heartworm preventatives, or if you have further questions about heartworms in general, make an appointment with your Omaha, NE veterinarian today. Your vet will first have to test your dog for the presence of heartworms, since giving preventatives to a dog who is already infested can prove life-threatening. From there, preventatives can be prescribed.