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What is Heartworm Disease?

  • Heartworm disease is contracted when a mosquito infected with heartworm larva bites an unprotected dog.

  • The larva travel through the bloodstream and can mature into a 10-12 inch long adult heartworm which settle in the heart and/or blood vessels in the lungs.

  • An untreated heartworm infection can cause progressive and potentially fatal damage to the arteries, heart and lungs.

Why do we require annual Heartworm Testing?

  • Annual testing is the standard of care recommended by the American Heartworm Society.

  • Today’s preventative medication is very effective but missing your monthly dose by just one day can leave your pet susceptible to infection.

  • Treating heartworm disease can cost up to 15X more than one year of preventative medication.

Why do we recommend year-round prevention?

  • We are all creatures of habit: Giving medication monthly is easier to remember than stopping the medication and restarting it months later.

  • Mosquitoes are sneaky and adapt very well to our changing climate. Here in New England mosquitoes do not always die off over the winter months.

What products do you recommend for Heartworm Preventatives?

ProHeart: This is an injectable heartworm preventative that is given every 6 months here at the hospital. This preventative will also treat hookworm infections.

Heartgard/TriHeart: These are monthly chews which kill heartworm larva (preventing infection) and treat both roundworm and hookworm infections. 

Sentinal: This is another monthly chew similar to the others but has the added bonus of flea prevention.

Revolution: This is a monthly topical application that protects against heartworm infection, fleas, ticks, earmites and scabies.

HELP! I missed a few months of

Heartworm Prevention?

  • Your pet may have become infected with heartworm larva during the unprotected months.

  • If you missed less than 6 months of prevention we suggest you start giving the heartworm preventative immediately. Bring your dog in for a heartworm test 6 months from the first missed dose.

  • If you have missed more than 6 months of heartworm preventative a heartworm test is strongly recommended prior to restarting a monthly prevention plan.

Why do I have to wait to have my dog tested for Heartworm?

  • When we test your dog for heartworm we are looking for proteins produced by adult heartworms.

  • It takes at least 6 months for the larva (which is transmitted by the infected mosquito) to mature into an adult heartworm.

  • This maturity rate is the reason for waiting to test. If you test too soon your dog may test negative even if he/she is has the microfilaria in his/her blood

What if I choose not to re-test at the recommended time?

  • When detected early (with only a few adult worms) the treatment is less traumatic, more successful and safer for the infected pet.

  • Symptoms of heartworm disease do not arise until the adult worms are large enough to cause heart problems.

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