WHAT IS HEARTWORM?  Heartworm is a parasite that is spread from dog to dog by mosquitoes.  When an infected mosquito bites your dog, it injects immature forms of the worm which migrate to the heart and grow into adults.  Heartworm is a progressive disease which over time can cause permanent heart and lung damage or even death.  Because it is such a dangerous disease, and because by the time the dog shows symptoms they are usually severely affected, we approach this disease from the standpoint of prevention rather than treatment.  A once a month pill is most commonly used which is quite safe and effective and also has efficacy against intestinal parasites.   A form which sterilizes fleas as well is also available.
WHEN SHOULD MY DOG RECEIVE HEARTWORM PREVENTATIVE?  At Edgewood Animal Clinic we recommend that all dogs receive their monthly heartworm pills year round.  Heartworm is spread primarily by mosquitoes; our “safe” season seems to get shorter each year.  In addition, the preventative we recommend also takes care of intestinal worms which are a year round problem.  Finally, we find that our clients who give the medication year round are much less likely to forget pills, or delay starting them in the spring and early summer when heartworm risk is high.

WHEN DOES MY DOG NEED HEARTWORM TESTING?  We require heartworm testing every year.  For pets that are off the medication during the winter months, we recommend giving the medication April 1 through December 1.  These dogs MUST have a negative heartworm test before beginning the medication each year.  For dogs on year round preventative the test is usually done at the time of the annual exam. For puppies, we will usually start them on preventative at around four months of age.  In these puppies we generally do not test before starting the medication, as they are not old enough to have had time to develop an adult heartworm infestation.  However, we test these puppies when they return the next year for their annual check-up and yearly thereafter.

WHAT IF MY DOG MISSES A PILL?  If you miss or are late with one of your dog’s heartworm preventative pills, please call our office.  Depending on how late/how many you have missed, you may be safe to resume medication and make very sure to get the next three months on time.  If you have missed multiple doses or are more than two weeks late, we may need to schedule a heartworm check prior to starting medication again or in the future at a different time than our routine checks would occur.

WHY DOES MY DOG NEED TO BE TESTED IF HE IS ALWAYS ON THE MEDICATION?   Heartworm is a life threatening disease that most often will show no clinical symptoms until permanent damage has occurred in your dog’s heart and lungs.  Should your dog become infected despite preventative, our odds of successful


Edgewood Animal Clinic

3025 Dixie Highway

Edgewood, Kentucky 41017

(859) 331-4848