Fresh from an online continuing education course I am now more knowledgeable and can better explain why we push parasite prevention so much. I know a lot of you just think we’re in it for the money, but really. I live in my parent’s basement and still can’t pay my bills. I guarantee I’m getting no kick backs or financial incentives to push these products. I push them because I hate to see a pet suffer because of an easy to prevent disease. And make no mistake. Heartworm is a disease.
Before we delve into the facts, lets start at the beginning. Because really, if you just do the prevention part and your pet never has to suffer the disease, then the rest doesn’t really matter.
There are three things you can do to minimize the spread of mosquito born diseases like heartworm.
- Year round oral or topical prevention for all of your pets. Don’t think just because your pet is indoor-only they are safe. Mosquitoes go where they want. There are high rise cats that have tested positive for heartworm. So just use the prevention. Year round prevention, just as directed by your veterinarian. Yes, that means for the life of your pet and I aim to make that a long life so prepare.
- Yard Work: Go through your yard and surrounding area. Make sure there is no standing water for mosquitoes to reproduce in. Ponds should have fish that like to eat mosquito larvae or be turbulent enough to be a hazard to the tiny terrors. Bird watering stations should be drained and cleaned daily, for your health and the health of the birds.
- Use a safe topical spray on you and your pets when outdoors for play or walks, especially in the cooler times of the day when bugs congregate. I’m not a big fan of deet based products but they are very effective. Look into the natural kinds as well to see if they work for you. I was personally attracted to this one, but mostly just because of the crocodile… Good marketing in motion, eh?
Why Prevent? So much easier to just treat if they get it…. Right?
Get ready for graphic pictures.
Or you can scroll up real fast and just prevent because here comes disease!
Dun.. Dun… Duuuu!
BAM! Heartworms in the heart…
We can’t fix this damage!
Oh sure, sure. We can kill those worms. All those worms clogging up the pulmonary artery? Dead as a door nail, but we can’t remove them. The body ‘should’ absorb them but with a load like the ones shown here? How? There will be lasting effects. And what if a worm gets lost and tangled up in a heart valve instead? Cardiac arrest anyone? Not a fun way to go. Heart death can be violent. Save yourself the stress.
I’ve never prevented?!?! What do I do?!!
Get a Heartworm Test. Start Prevention. Now.
Take a breath. We really can’t change yesterday, no matter how we try. What is important is right this moment. Once you are calm, call your veterinarian and set up a wellness check so we can assess the current health of your pet, run a heartworm test and recommend the right product(s) and vaccinations for your life style and area.
Actually give the preventative.
Come on. We all have busy lives right? It’s easy to buy the preventative. It’s easy to give the first dose and then we put it in the cupboard and forget about it until our next yearly checkup. Right? Well stop it. Those slick new cell phones have calendars with reminders on them. Set a reminder for every 30 days, or every 6 months or whatever date your chosen preventative needs to be effective.
Get the reminder. Give the prevention. Always.
Yay! You are now standing between your pet and horrible disease!
Get a Heartworm Test Every Six Months.
It takes six months for these babies to grow up into adults and be recognized by the heartworm test. So even after one heartworm test and good prevention, it is still possible for your pet to harbor a few live worms. The tests run about $50 dollars, give or take, so some vets scale back the recommendation on this but really. At least the first three tests should be every six months, and then you can scale back to yearly or so. AS LONG AS YOU ARE ACTUALLY USING THE PREVENTION.
Remember that one heartworm can do damage. The longer those worms have in the heart the more irreversible damage they will do.
So that’s my spiel: Prevent. Test. Prevent. Always.
Still dying to know more about heartworm disease?
Trot on over to the American Heartworm Society and fill up on knowledge!
Knowledge really has the power to extend the your life, and the lives of those you love.