Heartworm is a particularly nasty disease that can be found in almost all parts of Australia, particularly where mosquitoes predominate. Luckily even though it is difficult to treat, it is very easy to prevent.
Heartworm is a parasite that can be readily transmitted between an infected dog and your dog by mosquitoes. The immature stages of heartworm are transferred after the mosquito bites and then migrate through the blood stream until they lodge in the right side of the heart and develop into adults. This whole cycle takes 6 months to be completed.
The adult worms can reach 35cm in length and cause damage to the blood vessels and interfere with the blood supply to the lungs. The increased workload on the heart may eventually result in HEART FAILURE and therefore death.
Heartworm can be treated in dogs, however the drug used to treat it is arsenic based and poses a great deal of risk to the patient – often hospitalisation for up to a week is required. On top of this, the therapy is very expensive and some dogs may not survive the course.
For these reasons heartworm is much more easily PREVENTED than treated.
Heartworm in dogs can be prevented by many products although over the years we have found the yearly Heartworm injection to be the most cost effective and user friendly medication by far! It also guarantees to be in the system for the year and cannot be spat out and isn’t difficult to get into the dog.
There are many Heartworm preventative preparations available, besides the yearly injection. Most others are a monthly application of either a liquid on the back of the neck or a monthly tablet or chew. Many monthly liquid applicator products are more expensive to use for Heartworm control, as they not only cover Heartworm but also treat other things such as ear mites, some gut worms, fox mange and fleas. Although many things are covered and overall this appears to be a broad coverage for many problems, most of our pet dogs are not afflicted by half of the pests covered by the products. So we would be ‘over worming’ our dog by applying a monthly applicator or chew which not only covers Heartworm control (which is definitely needed monthly) but instead of the 3 monthly required worming. On top of that these products don’t cover all gut worms, so every 3 months another all worming tablet would be needed to complete the worming process. Ear mites should be treated when there is a problem, which is generally less frequent.
In summary, at Dr Jana’s Vet Centre we recommend Heartworm prevention on a yearly basis by injection, gut worming 3 monthly and fleas over the summer period. Ear mites and mange would only need to be addressed if there was actually such a problem present in your dog. This saves you a lot of money and uses products conservatively and when they are actually required.
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