Friday, May 25, 2012

Heartworm Prevention Month

May is Heartworm Prevention Month                                All Creatures Veterinary Center                                    972-307-7400
A Mild Winter Means More Pests for Your Pet
The very mild winter we had here in north Texas means we can all expect lots of bugs this spring and summer.   One bug, the mosquito, is expected to be abundant and this is potentially very bad for your pet.  Mosquitoes spread heartworm disease, a parasite infection that permanently debilitates or kills thousand of pets every year.  And it only takes one infected mosquito bite to cause this disease.  An estimated one million dogs will be heartworm positive in the United States this year.

How do mosquitoes spread heartworms?
Heartworms cannot be spread directly from animal to animal without a mosquito as an intermediary. A mosquito bites an infected dog and ingests tiny heartworm larvae along with the animal’s blood. Other carriers of  heartworm disease include wolves, foxes, ferrets, coyotes and raccoons. Inside the mosquito, these larvae develop into their infective stage.  When the same mosquito bites another dog, the larvae infect the healthy animal. Without a monthly dose of preventive, the larvae continue to develop inside the dog, eventually reaching the heart and lungs. The larvae mature into adults, which can be a foot in length, and produce microfilariae that circulate in the bloodstream. Now this dog is a reservoir of heartworms and is ready for another mosquito to bite and infect yet another dog.

Luckily heartworm disease is preventable and the prevention is cheap and easy when compared to the lengthy, stressful and expensive treatment.  Treatment can cost over $1,000 which makes giving a monthly preventive a bargain in comparison.  Treatment requires painful, arsenic-based injections to kill the heartworms present inside the lungs and heart. In addition, this is followed by a 1-3 month period of limited physical activity and possible health complications. Surgery may be required for dogs burdened with large amounts of worms. It is much easier to prevent heartworms than to treat them.

What are the symptoms of heartworm disease?
*Dull coat  *Lack of energy *Coughing  *Difficulty breathing
The good news is, you can protect your pet from heartworm disease with a monthly preventative like Heartgard Plus.  (Other products we recommend at All Creatures are dual purpose products like Revolution and Trifexis)

How does HEARTGARD Plus work?
HEARTGARD Plus not only prevents heartworm disease but also treats and controls the most common intestinal parasites, hookworms and roundworms. It contains 2 medications: ivermectin and pyrantel pamoate.  Ivermectin prevents heartworm disease by killing heartworm larvae that have infected your dog during the previous 30 days. By killing the larvae, HEARTGARD Plus stops larvae from developing into juvenile and adult heartworms, thereby preventing the disease.  The low dose of ivermectin is metabolized and excreted rapidly, so it kills heartworm larvae present today but does not have an effect on larvae introduced tomorrow.  That is why it is recommended to administer a regular monthly dose to your  dog . The use of HEARTGARD Plus every month may help to reduce the burden of roundworm eggs and hookworm larvae in the environment, and thereby reduce the risk of reinfection.  HEARTGARD Plus is the only FDA-approved heartworm preventive that comes in a real beef chew.


The doctors and staff All Creatures have already seen a higher than normal number of pets infested with fleas this year - a result of the mild winter.  To promote the use a heartworm preventative with a flea preventative, All Creatures is giving a free dose of Frontline Plus when you purchase 12 months of Heartgard protection.
(Heartgard given monthly with Frontline Plus, provides the most protection for your dog against worms, fleas and other parasites.  For cats, All Creatures recommends Revolution as the most effective and broadest spectrum of protection.)

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