Since April is National Heartworm Awareness Month, Dr. Anna Coffin would like to discuss some common misunderstandings that people believe about heartworms. If you have a pet and live in Oklahoma, your pet is at high risk for heartworms. In fact, one out of forty-two dogs tests positive for heartworms.
5 Common misunderstandings about heartworms:
1. Heartworm medication is expensive. Some monthly heartworm preventions cost less than $10.00/month. It is fifteen times more expensive to treat heartworms than it is to prevent heartworms.
2. Heartworms and intestinal parasites are the same thing. Intestinal parasites are exactly that, parasites that live in the intestinal tract and can be seen in your pet’s poop. Baby heartworms are injected under the skin by a mosquito; it takes six months for the worm to work its way to the heart. An adult heartworm is twelve inches long.
3. Heartworm prevention can be purchased over the counter without a prescription. Many people confuse over the counter topical once a month flea and tick products and oral dewormers with heartworm prevention. Heartworm prevention requires a prescription from your veterinarian. In fact, some of these medications can be deadly if your pet has heartworms, which is why heartworm testing is required before starting the prevention.
4. My pet rarely goes outside, so I don’t need to give him heartworm prevention. Your pet is less likely to get heartworms than a dog that lives outside. However, mosquitoes can get inside your house and bite your dog. It’s just not worth the risk.
5. It’s not a big deal if my pet misses one month of prevention. Heartworm prevention stops the young heartworm from progressing to the next stage. Your pet can get adult heartworms by missing one single dose.
Heartworms are deadly to dogs and cats. Dr. Anna Coffin recommends heartworm prevention every 30 days all year around in Oklahoma. If your pet is not on heartworm prevention, call or schedule an appointment today to get your dog tested and then get it started on heartworm prevention.