Common Heartworm Prevention Mistakes

You may think you are preventing heartworms in your dog by giving him a heartworm pill each month.  However, the American Heartworm Society says that of veterinarians who think heartworm is on the rise, sixty-one percent of them say poor owner compliance is a big reason.  Here are some common mistakes dog parents make that makes the heartworm preventative less effective.

  1. One of the most serious mistakes is not getting a yearly heart worm test for your dog before using the preventative pill.  This is especially important if you have not given the dog a pill each month in the previous year.  If the dog has heartworms and you give it the preventative, the heartworms will die and might clog the heart and vessels in the lungs.  They may also release toxins that cause your dog to go into a severe anaphylactic shock.  This is an emergency that requires quick action by your veterinarian to save your dog.
  2. When heartworms were first coming to the attention of veterinarians and pet owners, the recommendation was to just give heartworm medicine during the warm months of the year.  It was thought that doing so covered the time period when mosquitoes were active.  However, the recommendation now is to give heartworm medicine year round.  Mosquitoes are active more months of the year.  In some regions, they are even active in the winter.  Only giving heartworm medicine during the summer leaves your dog vulnerable to getting heartworms in the fall or spring.
  3. Heartworm medicine is given to dogs according to how much they weigh.  If your dog is growing, or just getting fatter, you will need to pay special attention to the weight of your dog when you purchase your heartworm preventative.  You do not want to over dose or under dose your dog with the wrong size medicine.
  4. Not knowing all your preventative options.  If your dog vomits every time you give him a heartworm pill, you can switch to a topical product to protect your dog.  There is even and injection your veterinarian can give your dog every six months.  Don’t let your dog’s inability to treat one form of heartworm medicine leave him unprotected.
  5. Not giving treatment to indoor pets.  Mosquitoes can usually find a way into your house, no matter how hard you try to prevent it.  They can then bite your dog and give him heartworms if he is not on a preventative.  Don’t risk this problem.  Give the dog a heartworm preventative even if they never go outdoors.
  6. Giving doses late or missing a dose.  Heartworm preventatives are most effective on smaller heartworms.  If you miss a dose of heartworm preventative it not only leaves your pet open to infestation with heartworms, it doesn’t kill all of the heartworms from the month before.  Heartworm prevention is important, so sign-up for reminders to give it to your dog, mark it on the calendar, or have someone call you every month and remind you.

There is no longer any reason for a dog to get heartworms in this country.  There are too many preventative options for pet parents to choose from not to protect your dog.