Heartworm Disease is Very Real!!
Despite the fact that I have been diagnosing and treating heartworm disease for my entire 17 year career, there are still many questions and misconceptions regarding this disease and how to effectively prevent infection.
Heartworm disease is a very serious and deadly disease. The heartworm is a large worm that can grow up to 14 inches in the heart and arteries of an infected dog. Dogs acquire this infection through mosquito bites. Illinois has a very high incidence of this disease. Left untreated, this disease can be fatal. If a dog is diagnosed with heartworm disease, treatment can be costly, difficult and lead to many complications, including death. The good news is this disease is 100 % preventable!
Link to incidence of heartworm in the United States, courtesy of the American Heartworm Society.
I have heard many concerns regarding this disease and heartworm prevention from my clients throughout the years.
1. My dog does not go outside!
It takes one mosquito bite to infect your pet. Has your dog really not been outside and have you never had a mosquito in your house?
2. I do not want to “overmedicate” my dog!
Heartworm prevention has a long, proven safety record and is guaranteed to prevent this terrible disease if prescribed under a licensed veterinarian. I give it to my own dogs, every month, all year. The risk of the medication is miniscule compared to the devastation this disease can cause.
3. I read on the internet and/or heard from the pet food store clerk prevention is not necessary!
Please do not place your animal’s health in the hands of Facebook, Google or any uneducated opinion. As your veterinarian, I or my trained staff will be glad to correctly discuss this disease and your prevention options.
4. Heartworm pills are too expensive!
The annual heartworm test runs in the $30 range and some monthly heartworm doses are under $10. The cost for treatment can easily be over $1000, not including any complications.
5. I do not give heartworm prevention in the cold months!
What is a cold month in Illinois lately? In the past 2 years, we have had unprecedented warm weather. If your dog is on monthly, yearlong prevention, your product will be guaranteed and you will not have to worry if your dog is vulnerable during a sudden warming trend.
In summary, I ask all dog owners to listen to their veterinary professionals (not internet opinions) and protect your dog against this common, dangerous and preventable disease.