7 Simple Heartworm Prevention Tips From Veterinarians

Jul 01, 2017



Source: Sky Canyon Animal Hospital

One of the most unfortunate risk every dog owner deals with is heartworm. These parasites can sneak in and take over a dog’s body, they are hard to detect, often take months for symptoms to surface, and may eventually lead to death.

When looking after the health of your dog, take into account routine preventative measures. In most cases, prevention is much cheaper and safer than treatment, and heartworm is no exception.  According to the American Heartworm Society, treatment can be 15 times more expensive than prevention.

Rather than give heartworm a chance to take hold in your dog’s body, following these simple tips will help reduce risks while also encouraging a healthier lifestyle.

1. Monthly Preventatives
Nobody wants to watch their dog go through the harmful process of heartworm treatment, just as no one wants to go out of their way to pay hundreds or more for the procedure. Prevention is cheaper and significantly safer than what it takes to treat heart- worm.

According to Pets.WebMD.com, missing a month of treatment is not recommended, but can be okay during colder months. Just missing multiple months of heartworm prevention treatment can increase the risk of infection significantly. just one heartworm-positive dog can significantly increase the risk of heartworm for all other dogs in the area. As for natural or herbal remedies, it is best to consult with a qualified veterinarian. Some of the more known preventative medications are ivermectin, selamectin, milbemycin, and moxidectin.

2. Routine Checkups
In addition to monthly preventative medicine, schedule regular checkups. Ideally this happens every 6 – 12 months. Unfortunately, heartworm infection can  take months for symptoms to show. The signs will often be subtle at first. If you notice decreased stamina, your dog getting out of breath more easily, or a slight cough, it’s worth taking your dog the vet to get checked out.

3. Great Nutrition
Just as you want to maintain your own body by providing it with healthy food, your dog needs the same level of attention. The healthier they are, the more likely their chances are of dealing with daily life as well as heartworm risk.

In addition to your normal range of dog food, certain foods that you eat can be a great source of nutrients for your dog. However. many of the foods that are okay for humans to eat are toxic to dogs. Do your homework to find out what foods are safe and which ones may cause harm.

Regarding dog food, look for brands which primarily use vegetables and meat to create their product. Stay away from fillers or heavily processed foods, just as you would with your own food. Avoid food coloring, too. Remember that dogs typically have a more sensitive digestive system than humans.

Give your dog plenty of water. Let them have access to it whenever they want. Also, consider adding immunity boosters like garlic, whole foods, and other nutrient rich food.

4. Plenty Of Exercise
Although the risk of heartworm is from mosquitoes, it’s still a great idea to keep your dog active. Whether they are inside or outside, keeping them active will promote a longer and healthier life. Exercise won’t treat or even necessarily fight against heartworm, but it will help in other areas of health for your dog such as supporting an optimal immune system. 

The only real prevention is monthly preventative medicine, but a healthier dog will still face less risks than an unhealthy one. Keep your dog well fed, active, and happy to help give them the best odds of remaining free of sickness and other ailments.

5. Keep Inside During Dawn And Dusk
Peak mosquito time is early in the morning and  near sunset. During these peak mosquito times, it’s best to keep your dog inside. Although mosquitoes are inevitable, reducing the chances of your dog being bitten will decrease heartworm risks.

6. Reduce Mosquito Breeding Grounds
Both near your house and throughout your yard, look for standing water and other potential spots where mosquitoes might breed heavily. Keep these breeding grounds clear and clean. 

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