How do pets get heartworm?
Heartworm is only transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. There’s no way to tell if a mosquito is infected, which is why prevention is very important. It takes about seven months from when the dog or cat is bitten, for the larvae to mature into adult heartworm.
They then reside in the heart, lungs and surrounding blood vessels and begin reproducing, causing severe lung disease, heart failure and damage to other organs in the body. Adult worms can grow up to 12 inches in length, can live 5-7 years and a dog can have as many as 250 worms in its system!
Why does my dog need a heartworm test?
Heartworm tests are required to verify that dogs do not have heartworm before we can give out any prevention medication such as Revolution and Heartgard. Giving these medications to a dog that tests positive for heartworm can be lethal. No medication is 100% effective!
Do I need a prescription for my pets heartworm preventative medication? Why?
Yes. Preventative medication must be used by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian. Preventative medication must be purchased from your veterinarian or with a prescription through a pet pharmacy. Heartworm testing is performed prior to prescribing medication to ensure that the dog tests negative. Giving these medications to a pet that tests positive for heartworm can be lethal.
Does preventative medication protect my pet against other parasites?
Yes! A number of certain medications are effective against fleas, ticks and mites and intestinal parasites. Depending on your geographical location and lifestyle it is best to discuss which product is best for you and your pet with your veterinarian.
At what age can my puppy or kitten start heartworm preventative medication?
The dosage of a heartworm medication is based on body weight, not age. Puppies and kittens grow rapidly in their first month of life, and the rate of growth- especially in dogs- varies widely from one breed to another. That means a young animal can gain enough weight to bump it from one dosage range to the next within a matter of weeks.
Ask your veterinarian for advice about anticipating when a dosage change will be needed. If your pet is on a monthly preventative, you may want to buy just one or two doses at a time, especially if dosage change is anticipated.
Also make sure to bring your pet in for every scheduled well-puppy or well-kitten exam so that you stay on top of all health issues, including heartworm protection. Confirm that you are giving the right heartworm preventative dosage by having your pet weighed every visit.