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Heartworm Prevention Basics

April is Heartworm Awareness Month! What a great time of year to remind ourselves of the dangers that heartworm poses to our dogs, and how important preventative steps are. Below, your Ellicott City, MD veterinarian tells you about the basics of heartworm prevention.

Why Prevent Heartworm?

Preventing heartworm is important because of the danger that heartworm infestation presents, and because heartworm is widespread—cases occur in every part of the country and can affect your animal companion wherever mosquitoes are present. Treating a heartworm infestation is expensive, time-consuming, and risky; killing off heartworms that are already in a dog’s bloodstream may cause serious side effects like coughing, fever, obstruction of blood flow, and more. It’s far safer and easier to prevent the problem entirely!

What Are Preventatives Like?

Heartworm preventatives come in several forms. Some are chewable tablets or pills that are taken by mouth, while others are topical gels that are applied directly to your pet’s skin. There are even injectable heartworm preventatives that are given via a syringe at the vet’s office. Ask your veterinarian what kind of heartworm preventative will work best for your dog.

Most of the time, a year-round preventative is recommended because it keeps your dog safe throughout all seasons; mosquitoes can stay active into the autumn months, so it’s important that your dog stays protected. Plus, heartworm medications also ward off a variety of other worm parasites like hookworms, flatworms, and roundworms—this means that putting your dog on a year-round preventative is a great investment in your canine companion’s health. Ask your vet if a year-round or seasonal heartworm preventative is best for your dog.

How Do I Get My Dog Set Up With a Preventative?

Call your vet’s office right away if your dog is not already set up with a heartworm preventative. First, your pet will have to be checked to determine if heartworms are already present. If they are, treatment will be started, as giving a dog with a heartworm infestation a preventative medication can prove deadly. Otherwise, your veterinarian will recommend a great preventative for your pooch to keep him properly protected.

Remember: heartworm isn’t the only parasitic danger out there for your pet! Fleas, ticks, and other types of worms are waiting to latch on to your dog and start causing problems. Contact your Ellicott City, MD veterinary clinic today to make sure your dog is protected.

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