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Posted on 01-19-2015


Heartworm disease is a very real threat in the Midwest.  This nasty parasite is transmitted by mosquitoes.  Larva are deposited under the skin and as they mature they migrate to the heart and lungs where they cause immense damage.  Although there is a treatment for dogs, treatment is expensive, has a number of dangerous side effects, and some of the damage caused by the worms is permanent.

Animal Clinic Suburban uses current recommendations from the American Heartworm Society and AVMA guidelines for dogs to receive a yearly heartworm test and year round prevention.  Some owners question why their pet needs to be heartworm tested when they are on year round prevention.  Although the risk of acquiring heartworm disease is lower in pets on year round prevention no medication is 100% effective.  We frequently see pets who have missed a dose of medication here or there.  It is not uncommon for a pet to occasional not eat the pill like we thought, or to cough up or vomit up the pill sometime after it has been given.  Lastly, it’s important to remember that although heartworm prevention in healthy pets is extremely safe, in heartworm positive dogs some preventatives can actually cause life threatening reactions.

The truth is that year round prevention and heartworm testing is still more cost effective than treatment.  In addition to the medication required to kill the heartworms, a pet needs a number of blood tests, radiographs (x-rays), and additional medications to provide the safest and best results.  The protocol for heartworm treatment last for 2-3 months and your pet must be strictly confined during that time. 

The bottom line is that heartworm disease is not uncommon in Nebraska.  Prevention is safe, fairly inexpensive and effective.  It is cheaper to test and prevent than to treat.  Prevention means that your pet never develops the permanent damaging changes to their lungs and heart.  Another advantage to prevention is that most products also protect your pet from a number of additional parasites, many of which can be transmitted to people.  Finally heartworm preventatives purchased through Animal Clinic Suburban are guaranteed 100% effective.  If your pet were to develop a heartworm infection or certain intestinal parasites, the treatment cost would be covered by the company.  Make sure to ask our veterinary team if you have any questions about which heartworm preventative is best for your pet.

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