Heartgard- not just for heartworm prevention!

posted: by: Dr. Betsy North Tags: "Clinic Specials" "News" 

Heartgard- not just for heartworm prevention!

Most dog owners are aware of the danger of heartworm disease, and hopefully, are diligent about giving their pet a monthly preventative like Heartgard Plus.  Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitos, who carry the parasite after biting an infected dog, fox, or coyote.  Infection occurs from the bite of just one infected mosquito.  The larvae travel through the dog's body to the vessels in the lungs and heart, growing into 10 to 12 inch long adult worms.  These worms ultimately lead to heart disease/failure and death if not treated.  Heartworm preventative kills the larval stage of heartworms that were contracted in the previous 4 weeks.  Missing even 1 dose puts a dog at risk for contracting heartworm disease.

Some owners may be tempted to only give their dog heartworm preventative during the warm months when mosquito counts are high; however, it has been shown that some mosquitos linger long into the colder weather and, generally, we don't notice mosquitos in the spring until their numbers are high.  Mosquitos can get into homes, living after the ground outdoors has frozen.  It is important to give heartworm prevention year-round to provide the best protection against heartworm disease.  But, did you know that other parasites can be controlled by Heartgard Plus?

Roundworms and hookworms are also controlled by giving Heartgard Plus monthly.  Roundworms are the most common intestinal parasite found in small animals, with over 90% of puppies under 3 months old being infected.  Puppies get roundworms from the mother through the placenta or by nursing; roundworm eggs are passed in the stool and other dogs contract them by contact with infected feces or soil.  Adult worms live in the intestines, causing diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, malnutrition, and can even block intestines.  If a child inadvertently ingests roundworm eggs after playing in an infected environment, the worms can migrate to the eyes and cause blindness.

Hookworms are found in 20% of the dog population.  They can pass to puppies through nursing or are contracted by ingesting contaminated soil.  These intestinal parasite feed on intestinal tissue and can cause bloody diarrhea, anemia, weakness, and can even by fatal in large numbers in puppies.  The larval stage of hookworms can also penetrate the skin of people and cause a severe rash.

Heartgard Plus helps treat current roundworm and hookworm infections and decreases the eggs passed into the environment.  It helps decrease the incidence of reinfection.  The eggs from these parasites are in the soil year-round, so monthly control is important, regardless of the temperature outside.

Parasite control is important all the time, not just in the summer!  Heartworm is a serious, often fatal, disease to avoid in dogs; intestinal parasites can cause problems in humans as well as our canine companions.  By giving your pet preventative all year, you will help keep your dog and your family healthy to enjoy life together!