You keep hearing about heartworm prevention, but you have to wonder if it is really necessary or if you can spend the money on a cool new pet bed instead. The short answer is that if you live somewhere that has even one mosquito, you need to give your dog a heartworm preventative. Treating a dog for an illness that was completely preventable and has caused permanent damage to the dog's heart is not fun.
Heartworms are caused by a bite from an infected mosquito. As the name suggests, heartworms do grow in the dog's heart. However, according to the American Heartworm Society, the heartworms actually begin growing in arteries that are inside the dog's lungs and will eventually spread to the heart if the dog doesn't receive the proper diagnosis and treatment.
Keeping dogs from contracting heartworms is not just simple. It is delicious. A heartworm preventative tablet is given to a dog once a month throughout the year. Your dog will probably be unhappy that he or she is only getting one pill a month and may beg for more pills. If only all pet medications could be made to taste this good!
If you neglect to give your dog medication for a month or two, you should go to the veterinarian for a blood test to rule out any infections before you restart the medication. This is because it can be fatal to give a dog with heartworms the preventative without treating the infection.
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|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|