Heartworm Prevention Tips

Heartworm prevention tips from an animal hospital in Longmont, CO

Most people have heard about heartworm disease here in Colorado. Heartworm disease affects dogs and cats who have been bitten by an infected mosquito. It can be completely symptomless until significant damage has happened to the heart and lungs. Ultimately, the disease can cause kidney and liver disease and be fatal in advanced cases.

Here is a link to a great video from the American Heartworm Society that demonstrates the life cycle and disease process of heartworms.

Here in Colorado, there are sometimes conflicting opinions about prevention, even among veterinary professionals. At Family Pet Hospital in Longmont, we believe in year round heartworm prevention in every dog for your pet’s entire life and here is why:

Heartworm disease exists here in Colorado

  • It may be at a much lower incidence than Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi and other southern states, but it does exist here. Furthermore, since Colorado is a popular travel destination, many people bring their pets here on vacation. Some of these pets may be harboring heartworms.
  • Because we are so dog-friendly here, dogs are frequently brought here from endemic areas to be adopted out.
  • Once a mosquito becomes infected here, it can infect Colorado dogs.

Heartworm disease is easy to prevent, but very difficult to treat

  • Treatment for heartworm disease is both financially difficult and hard on your pet. Treatment costs for a 30 pound dog can easily be between $1000 and $2000 dollars and requires up to 12 weeks of strict cage rest.
  • The disease is life threatening and can cause permanent damage to your pet’s heart and lungs.
  • Prevention is a once monthly chewable tablet treat that costs less than $10 per month for most dogs. Contact your local animal hospital in Longmont to receive preventive medication.

Heartworm prevention also stops roundworms and hookworms

  • During the portion of the year when mosquitoes are not active, dogs can be exposed to intestinal parasites when they have contact with feces from other dogs. Most owners take their dogs on walks to dog parks and to outdoor areas. Our pets come into contact with other dogs’ fecal matter during these outings and carry the risk of infestation with these parasites.
  • The brand of heartworm prevention that we carry contains a dewormer that prevents roundworms and hookworms.

When considering a seasonal parasite, we often think about fleas and ticks, but neglect heartworms. The incidence of flea infestations here in Colorado is low. The difference between flea infestations is that if they develop, the treatment is very simple: apply an inexpensive topical or oral therapy for 1-3 months in most cases. Unlike flea infestations, however, heartworm infection requires much more extensive and expensive treatment.

For all of these reasons, Family Pet Hospital believes strongly in year round heartworm prevention. Having seen the effects of heartworm disease in many dogs, we believe that prevention is key to keeping your dog happy and healthy. If you have any question about this article or would like to schedule your dog’s heartworm test, please call Family Pet Hospital in Longmont today!

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