HomeCare HomeCare Veterinary Clinic Veterinary Services Since 1992
Heartworm Medication
Heartworms are exactly that: slender white worms that infest the juncture of the heart and lungs in our canine friends and cause respiratory difficulty and exercise intolerance, and eventually heart failure. The larval stages of the worms are spread from dog to dog by mosquitoes. The treatment for heartworms is not easy and involves giving immiticide into the back muscle of the patient followed by a month of strict rest as the worms dissolve. Because this worm causes so much damage and is so difficult to treat, it is very worthwhile to prevent it, which can be done by means of a treat administered on the first of each month. This becomes particularly important for dogs that spend a fair amount of time outside - hiking, running with other dogs at the park, hunting, or basking in the yard. Dogs that have come up from the south need to be carefully tested and evaluated as they are at high risk. The preventative that we carry is Sentinal, because this preventative also offers good protection against a wide array of intestinal worms such as rounds, hooks, and whips which are all common in the soils where other dogs are walked frequently. Intestinal worms spread readily between dogs as the eggs are stable in the soil for years even surviving freezing. Once the preventative is started, we recommend giving it all year round for two reasons. First, if the dog is exposed to heartworm in the time off the preventative he/she can have an anaphylactic or allergic reaction when the medication is restarted as the new worms are killed all at once. Secondly, the intestinal worm protection is worthwhile even at times when mosquitoes are less prevalent. The decision to use the preventative should be discussed at the annual visit. If the dog has never had preventative medication, or has been off it for more than six months {especially at a high risk time of year, summer into fall, a blood test for the disease should be performed before restarting it. Puppies can be started on the preventative at the age of 12 weeks and will not need this test as they are too young to have allowed any exposure to progress. We will provide the preventative one dose at a time until the puppy reaches its mature weight. Heartworms do not complete their life cycle in cats and they do not need the preventative medication in our part of the country. Please let us help you decide the right course of action for your dog by making an appointment at our clinic.