Thursday, June 21, 2012
Pet Smarts: Ounce of prevention definitely worth pound of cure with heartworm disease
By Dr. Lori Eidson
Sheabel Pet Care Center
“But, Doc, Fluffy never goes outside! Does she really need heartworm prevention?”
I hear this question several times a day in our busy practice. I try to explain to my clients that heartworm preventive is just as important as any pet vaccine. However, it is somehow seen as optional and “an added expense.” The truth of the matter is that heartworm disease is an easily preventable but deadly disease. It breaks my heart to see so many beloved dogs and cats go without the prevention they need.
Heartworm infections are transmitted via a bite from an infected mosquito. Because your home is not air-tight, a tiny mosquito can and will find its way into your house. Unless your pet lives in a plastic bubble, there is only one way to protect it from an infection: prevention.
One simple bite from one tiny insect is all that it takes to cause a lot of pain for you furry family member. Heartworm disease causes congestive heart failure, lung disease, liver and kidney disease or failure, and death. Usually once clinical signs (symptoms) of heartworm disease are noted, the disease is in full swing.
For dogs, the treatment for heartworm disease is not easily accessible and is very expensive. Your dog will be on strict kennel rest for many months once treatment is initiated, and it still may die due to complications. If the disease is successfully treated, the damage to the heart remains and can still cause heart failure as your dog ages.
For cats, surgical removal of the worms from the heart is the only option. There is no treatment for feline heartworm disease.
So now that I have your attention, I’ll tell you that it’s very easy and cost effective to prevent heartworm disease in your pets. For dogs, an annual heartworm test is required. This ensures that your dog is not currently infected and proves the efficacy of the products that prevent disease. The test requires one tiny drop of blood and take about 10 minutes to run.
Once we have a negative test, we can choose the heartworm prevention that is right for your pet. For cats, the choices are limited. Our clinic, for example, offers a once-monthly topical product that protects against heartworm disease, fleas and intestinal parasites all in one.
For dogs, there are lots of options out there. We carry two options for our clients: a once-monthly tablet that protects against heartworm disease, fleas and instestinal parasites and a once-per-six-month injection that protects against heartworms continually and some intestinal parasites.
We find that our clients love the oral product because there is no greasy mess associated with topicals, it tastes great and it is an all-in-one product. For those who have a hard time remembering to give a heartworm prevative monthly really appreciate the six-month injectable. Both are very cost effective. For those who would like an all-in-one product, we can set you up with an automatic mailing. You are billed for a single dose montly and the pill arrives approximately the same time every month.
Ordering heartworm preventive through your veterinarian gauarantees that if your pet does become infected, that most medical costs associated with treatment are covered by the pharmaceutical company. We can find something that works for you.
The best part of having your pets on heartworm prevention is knowing that you have given them a chance at a longer, healthier life. As my mother and grandmother always used to say, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Please ease this veterinarian’s heart and protect the heart of your pet today!
Dr. Lori Eidson is a veterinarian at Sheabel Pet Care Center. She graduated from Transylvania University in 2004 and continued on to Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine. Eidson is a native of Madison County.