For pet owners, and dog owners in particular, Spring means a number of exciting things. Spring means spending more time outside for longer walks, games of Frisbee in the parks and exploring all that the great outdoors has to offer. It means playing in the rain and rolling around in the freshly sprouted daisies. But, it also means that it’s time to start thinking about those feared heartworms.
This changing of the season is a great time for pets and their owners to schedule a visit with their veterinarians for an annual checkup. With the warmer weather and more time spent outdoors, it’s time to think about heartworm prevention and making sure that your pets are protected before they head outdoors for some extended fun in the sun. So, what do you need to know about heartworm prevention in order to spring into action this season? Let’s take a closer look:
Some pet owners are often surprised to hear that their pets should have annual heartworm tests. Just because they tested negative last year does not mean that they will this year, and the key to prevention is early detection. Even though the season has just sprung, your pet still needs a heartworm test in order to determine if they may have become infected last season. Unfortunately, it takes months for pets with heartworms to test positive. That’s why annual tests are so necessary. Early diagnosis is key and will increase your pet’s chance of recovery. However, if it goes undetected and untreated, progressive and potentially fatal damage can be done to your pet’s heart, lungs and arteries.
Even if you have your pet on continuous heartworm prevention medication, they should still be tested. You need annual testing in order to stick to and ensure that your pet’s prevention program works, because while heartworm medications are very effective, your pet can still become infected. This might happen if you miss a single dose one month, give it to them late, or just forget altogether. Your pet might also miss their dose if they vomit it up later or spit it out when you’re not looking. You just never know, but, even if you do everything right, there’s still no guarantee for 100 percent prevention.
Cats vs. Dogs
Both cats and dogs can contract heartworm disease. Though cats are not as easily susceptible to infection as dogs, and diagnosis can be a bit more challenging, it only takes one or two heartworms to make cats very sick. That’s why we recommend heartworm prevention for both.
When it comes down to it, no matter the season, your pets should have year-round prevention in order to keep them happy, healthy and free of potentially fatal heartworms. For more information about heartworms and prevention, talk to your veterinarian.