Heartworm disease is predicted to skyrocket this year due to the mild winter temperatures and above average rain we've had throughout most of the nation. This weather has been perfect for breeding the more than 70 species of mosquitoes that transmit the disease. The prevalence of heartworms in our Gulf Coast region of Texas is especially troubling.
Dogs are the primary host for heartworms, however other species can be infected including ferrets, cats, marine mammals, and even people.
Heartworms are a deadly and silent threat to our dogs. As a mosquito feeds, microscopic heartworm larvae migrate into the dog's bloodstream, and eventually develop into adult worms that can be as long as 12 inches. Adult heartworms live within the pulmonary arteries and right side of the heart causing lung damage and heart failure. Many dogs can be infected for years before symptoms of heartworm disease develop. Symptoms can include coughing, weight loss, fatigue, and decreased appetite.
Dogs that become infected with heartworms should see their veterinarian and undergo treatment as soon as medically practical, or the disease will worsen and even cause death.
Heartworm prevention is the key to keeping your dog safe from this disease. There are a variety of medications available to prevent the larvae from developing into adult heartworms:
- Advantage Multi® Topical Solution for Dogs (imidacloprid/moxidectin) (Bayer Animal Health)
- HEARTGARD® Chewables for Dogs (ivermectin) (Merial)
- HEARTGARD® Tablets for Dogs (ivermectin) (Merial)
- HEARTGARD® Plus Chewables for Dogs (ivermectin/pyrantel) (Merial)
- HeartShield™ Plus Flavored Chewables (ivermectin/pyrantel) (TruRx)
- Interceptor® Flavor Tabs® for Dogs & Cats (milbemycin oxime) (Elanco)
- Iverhart Max® Chewable Tablets (ivermectin/pyrantel pamoate/praziquantel) (Virbac)
- Iverhart Plus® Flavored Chewables (ivermectin/pyrantel) (Virbac)
- Paradyne® (selamectin) (Zoetis)
- PetTrust™ Plus Chewable Tablets (ivermectin/pyrantel) (Sergeant's)
- ProHeart® 6 (moxidectin) (Zoetis)
- Revolution® (selamectin) (Zoetis)
- Sentinel® Flavor Tabs® (milbemycin oxime/lufenuron) (Virbac)
- Sentinel® Spectrum® Chewables (milbemycin oxime/lufenuron/praziquantel) (Virbac)
- Trifexis® (milbemycin oxime/spinosad) (Elanco)
- Tri-Heart® Plus Chewable Tablets (ivermectin/pyrantel) (Intervet/Merck Animal Health)
It is extremely important that dogs who receive heartworm preventive have annual heartworm testing to verify they have not become infected despite the medication. Why? Because we know that no heartworm preventive is 100% effective; heartworms are beginning to develop resistance to the preventives in parts of the country; and dogs can spit out the preventive or, rarely, tablets can pass through their GI tract and not be digested. If an infected dog has microfilaria (baby heartworms) and receives heartworm preventive, life-threatening anaphylaxis can occur.
If your dog needs heartworm preventive or treatment, call us at 281.351.7184 to schedule an appointment or check out our website, kindvet.com
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