How to Avoid Heartworm Disease in Your Dog

In the past week we have tested dogs which have been positive for heartworm disease despite receiving heartworm prevention.  This is also increasingly being reported in the United States.

Heartworm preventative such as Heartgard is still the best way to protect your pet.  Studies have not shown one brand to be more effective than another. Regardless of the brand you are giving, be sure that you give it religiously every month.  It is also wise to give the preventative to your dog personally, rather than delegating it to someone else.  At SPAH we always send home the heartworm preventative with the owner unless we have been specifically requested to give the tablet in the hospital or during a grooming appointment.  We also weigh the pet each time to make sure that the proper dose is being given.  If your pet is a weight which is border-line between two different sizes of Heartgard always give the larger size.  In other words, it is better to give too much than too little.  Heartgard has a tiny dose of ivermectin within it, so it is very safe.  On the other hand, if you are giving the liquid form of ivermectin drawn up in a syringe, you must be extremely careful with the amount you give.  This product is actually made for cattle, so it is very strong and dangerous for your dog if given outside the dosage range.  An overdose of this formulation of ivermectin can easily be lethal to a dog or cat.

And finally, have your dog tested for heartworm disease once a year, even if you are following all the instructions listed above.  Dogs which test positive early in the disease process are much more likely to survive.

If you have any questions or would like to have your dog tested for heartworm disease please call or visit the San Pedro Animal Hospital.  Heartworm tests are currently only $50 a piece while supplies last.

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