Your veterinarian or veterinary nurse or technician is NOT trying to SELL you heartworm prevention. They are genuinely concerned and want to prevent a potentially FATAL disease because they love your pet and want it to live a long healthy life.
How heartworm is spread
Mosquitos spread heartworm disease. A mosquito bites a heartworm positive dog/fox/coyote and sucks the blood. The mosquito now bites and infects your dog/cat/ferret. The baby heartworm burrows into the skin and starts its lifecycle in your pet. Worms mature over 2-4 months and eventually end up in the heart and lungs. Mature worms are 10-15cm long and live in your pet’s heart and lungs. It causes heart disease, heart failure, lung failure and death.
How heartworm is detected
Once the worms have matured, a heartworm test can detect the infection. It takes 6 months for the worm to grow to an adult and for the test to detect it; so your dog can have heartworm disease for 6 months and you not know and our test not even be able to pick it up! This is why we don’t test for 6 months after you miss a dose of heartworm prevention. Sadly your pet could be infected and we cannot detect it until the heartworm grows to be an adult!
How heartworm is prevented
To prevent heartworm disease, you must give a heartworm prevention medicine ONCE MONTHLY. It is very important because your pet can be infected EVERY month with heartworm! The pill will only kill the baby heartworms (within 30 days.) If worms are allowed to grow beyond babies, the monthly medicine does not work. Skipping months DOES NOT WORK! Effective control of heartworms with the oral medicine requires you give the medicine once a month, every month, no skipping doses; not even in the winter. Proheart 6 or 12, is an injection that prevents heartworm for 6 or 12 months. It can be given by your veterinarian instead of the monthly medicine.
Heartworm prevention prevents other parasites
Heartworm prevention medicine also deworms your pet once monthly and helps prevent intestinal parasite infections like roundworms and hookworms. These worms are found outside where your pet walks barefoot and sniffs and licks the ground. These parasites are ingested, and just like preventing heartworm, if the medicine is given once monthly at the right time, they are also killed.
Even humans are at risk
Your pet isn’t the only mammal that can contract heartworm…so can you! There have been over 100 cases of HUMAN heartworm disease in the United States in the past 50 years, so be sure to help prevent this problem all the time!
Does heartworm prevention kill fleas/ticks?
Please remember that heartworm prevention and flea/tick prevention are VERY different. Heartworm prevention only prevents heartworm and intestinal parasites; flea and tick prevention prevents fleas and ticks. You must be giving both to have all internal and external parasites controlled.