Now that summer is here, the risk of parasite transmission increases for dogs and cats.
This is especially true for heartworm infection, as these worms are transmitted through the bite of a mosquito. Part of our annual visit with dogs includes a heartworm test (this is not as critical for cats due to the life cycle of the heartworm.) If you see that your pet is running low on heartworm preventative, it is likely time for his/her annual visit and heartworm recheck.
Here are some myths about heartworm we would like you to know:
- “My pet never goes outside so he/she doesn’t need heartworm preventatives.” While it is true the longer the pet is outdoors the higher risk of infection; however ALL PETS even those who rarely go outside could be infected with heartworms. It only takes the bite of one mosquito entering your home to bite an unprotected pet who could then develop a fatal heartworm infection.
- “My cat doesn’t need heartworm prevention.” This is totally untrue as cats (and ferrets) as well as dogs can become infected with heartworms. Cats are actually more likely to die than dogs when they become infected with heart worms, as the disease tends to be more severe in cats and there is no safe medication to kill the heartworms in cats as compared to dogs. For this reason, all cats should be on safe, chewable, monthly heartworm prevention year round.
- “I don’t want to give my pet heartworm prevention as I have read it is poisonous.” While all medications, including natural medicines, can be toxic, toxicity depends upon the dose of the drug as well as other factors. Monthly oral heartworm prevention only lasts in your pet’s body for about 24/48 hours, not an entire month. This makes the prevention very safe and effective.
- “I found a natural heartworm prevention online instead of the monthly conventional medication.” Dr. Shawn has done extensive research in this area and has failed to find any natural therapies that are proven to be as safe and effective as monthly conventional heartworm prevention. If you are concerned about toxicity with monthly conventional heartworm prevention, please consult us as we can prescribe herbal medicine to minimize risk to your pet.
Occasionally, a client will ask us to write a prescription for heartworm prevention through the internet or local pharmacy. We have chosen not to do this for the following reasons:
- The pharmaceutical companies which manufacture heartworm preventative have asked veterinarians not to prescribe heartworm medication through other pharmacies.
- The pharmaceutical companies offer a guarantee on heartworm medication, but only if it is purchased through your veterinarian hospital.
- Due to problems of illegal practices, the FDA has asked veterinarians to exercise caution when prescribing through internet pharmacies.
- Because human pharmacists are not trained in veterinary medicine there have been a number of instances where the pharmacists changed the dosage of medication prescribed by the veterinarian resulting in harm to the pet.
Dr. Shawn is trained in veterinarian pharmacology and only wants to prescribe medication that he feels is safe and effective and that he can stand behind without the fear of malpractice.