Heartworm Prevention or Heartworm Treatment: What Will It Be For Your Pets?

We confess to having only learned about heartworm disease approximately 10 years ago. Both of us grew up in an era and culture when pets were kept outside year round. Our families at least provided outside shelter and maybe brought pets into the basement or barn if the weather was extremely cold. But by and large we were of the belief that pets belonged outside.  Our pets rarely visited a vet and that was primarily at a rabies vaccination clinic.  Most of our pets died at a young age, usually from being hit by a car. Knowing what we know now, I suspect the others died from complications of heartworm disease.

We have forgiven ourselves, learned a great deal and moved forth. Lots of things in life have changed. Just as today we have flat screen TVs, computers, smart phones and cars with cruise control and electronic windows, things have improved for our pets. Now, out pets live indoors, have a fence containement system when outside, sleep on cushy beds, have toys other than sticks, see the vet on a regular basis, get a host of vaccinations, take dietary supplements, eat premium food and sometimes even go on vacation with us!

Preventing heartworm disease is very simple.  All it takes is a monthly pill. If your dog or cat will not take pills you can ask the vet to give your dog a heartworm preventative via injection that is only required every 6 months. Your cat can be protected with a spot on treatment if she is difficult to pill. Pets in all fifity states are suscepticle to heartworm disease. The infected larvae is transmitted from one infected animal to another by mosquitos. There are over 22 types of mosquitos in the US and they are active at various times throughout the year.

Depending on what brand of heartworm disease prevention you use, the cost for a six month supply can be as low as $35.00.  Treatment for heartworm disease in a dog varies from $500 to more than $1000. Financial cost alone is a significant issue. But more importantly we should note that there is no safe treatment for heartworm disease in cats.

For dogs, the treatment regimen is difficult.  There are three very painful injections given between the shoulder blades. During the 120 days of treatment your dog must be on strict confinement because activity increases bloodflow.  When that happens the dead worms can cause blockages or blood clots leading to death.

As many of you know, when we fostered Trooper he came to us HW+.  He was three years old at the time and was and remains such an active little joyful boy. But we had to keep him leashed when we took him outside.  He wanted so badly to dig and we could not allow that. He and Daisy Mae wanted to run and play, but again we could not allow that. When we were in the house with all three dogs awake, Trooper had to remain in his crate or tethered to Billy or me to prevent overactivity. And of course, there were those very painful injections.  It took a while after his treatment was over before Trooper could go to the vet’s office and not cringe.

Trooper

Trooper

Because we fostered Trooper prior to adopting him, English Springer Rescue America (ESRA) paid for the financial costs of his treatment, but Trooper is the one who paid with pain and restricted activity. Fortunately, today he is a happy, energetic, active boy, but it could have been so easily prevented.

Please choose prevention!!

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About Beth Harwell

Beth Leatherman Harwell and her husband, Billy Harwell own and operate a local pet sitting business, Dog Walkers & More at Coddle Creek, LLC. Beth and Billy take care of your dogs, cats, birds, fish and small caged pets in the comfort of your own home. Services are provided in Mooresville, Davidson, Cornelius and Mt. Ulla, NC.
Beth is a retired clinical social worker turned business owner. She blogs about pet care needs and the human animal bond.
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Comments

  1. Great, informative article. It just about covers everything. Thanks for the link back to my post too. “Lyme Disease in Dogs: Your Questions Answered. I’ll put a link back to this site on my article too. Take care!

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