by Dr. Barbara Lewis
For dog owners, a recommendation to dose against heartworm disease with a monthly preventative has been the prevailing standard of care in the veterinary industry. Now, veterinarians have access to effective heartworm prevention that only requires dosing once every six months. As we enter April, simultaneously, Heartworm Awareness Month, we wanted to highlight an alternative heartworm preventative that offers added convenience to pet owners.
ProHeart 6 is a twice-yearly injectable heartworm disease preventative. It’s the only heartworm product that provides six months of continuous protection against heartworm disease with a single veterinary-administered dose. This is exciting new news for our dogs since heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease in dogs. The American Heartworm Society estimates that currently, over 1 million dogs are infected with heartworm disease.
For Heartworm disease is a threat throughout the entire United States and all dogs, regardless of age, sex, indoor or outdoor living, are susceptible to heartworm infection. Currently all heartworm preventatives have to be administered monthly by the pet parent/care giver and even, with the best of intentions, most of “us” forget or are late on the monthly preventive more than once a month. A nationwide survey of dog owners found that more than 80 percent had failed to give their dogs the monthly heartworm preventative on the exact day as instructed. One third of the dog owners surveyed entirely missed a monthly dose, and 20 percent of those who missed eventually stopped giving the heartworm preventative altogether.
Why is administering a heartworm preventative so important?
Heartworm Basics: The mosquito plays an essential role in the heartworm life cycle. Adult female heartworms produce microscopic baby worms called microfilaria that circulate in the bloodstream. When a mosquito bites and takes a blood meal from an infected dog, it picks up these baby worms, which develop and mature into larvae over a period of 10 to 14 days. Then, when the infected mosquito bites another dog the infective larvae are deposited onto the surface of the animal’s skin and enter the new host through the mosquito’s bite wound. Once inside a new host, it takes approximately 6 months for the larvae to mature into adult heartworms.
Signs of heartworm disease may include a mild persistent cough, reluctance to exercise, fatigue after moderate activity, decreased appetite, and weight loss. As heartworm disease progresses, pets may develop heart failure and the appearance of a swollen belly due to excess fluid in the abdomen. Dogs with large numbers of heartworms can develop a sudden blockages of blood flow within the heart leading to a life-threatening form of cardiovascular collapse.
Because of the seriousness associated with heartworm prevention compliance, pet owners may find that dosing their pet twice a year may be more convenient than adhering to a monthly, twelve-dose schedule. Proheart 6 is an exciting new heartworm preventative that gives our dogs the prevention they deserve. Please call us with any questions or to schedule your pet for their ProHeart 6 injection today. Our office main line is 941-745-1513.