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Heartworm Disease

April 08, 2014

Last week we posted about lyme disease and our friend Abigail. This week we are talking about another disease that the heartworm/lyme blood panel tests for – heartworm disease!

Many people think heartworm is not something that we need to worry about much in the Northeast and that it is rare that dogs contract it. This is a myth! We have seen a rise in heartworm positive patients in the past few years. Dr. Cannan’s own German Shepherd Athena, whom she adopted a few years ago, was heartworm positive when she adopted her. She was successfully treated with no complications and is now heartworm negative. She had the “gold standard” of heartworm treatment which included doxycycline, prednisolone, and Immiticide injections. We also had a patient in just last week that Dr. Cannan reminded me was heartworm positive too. Many of these patients are coming from the south, where heartworm is more prevalent. Many people adopt dogs from the south, which is a wonderful thing, but unfortunately a large number of them are coming with heartworms in their “baggage” when they are shipped to the Northeast.

Heartworm disease is easily prevented but treatment is costly and can be harmful, not to mention complicated, than giving prevention monthly! As you can see from the image, 11 years of heartworm prevention costs less than 1 round of heartworm treatment.

Dogs should be given some form of heartworm prevention monthly. Whether that is a chewable treat like Heartgard or a topical treatment like Revolution, missing months is not an option. There is even an injection called ProHeart that is a heartworm prevention given twice a year, so every six months, which protects them from this disease as well as a monthly treatment. Giving heartworm prevention to an infected dog can be fatal! So, if you feel your dog has missed one or more months of prevention, he or she should be tested before putting them back on the chews or topical treatment. Testing annually is also highly recommended, even if they are given the prevention religiously. Doing annual heartworm/lyme tests give us a base-line for future tests and can also catch “surprise” results before dogs start showing symptoms. Book an appointment with your Poughkeepsie & Dutchess County vet today!

– Post by Michelle W.

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