For many years now, we have been advocates for year-round heartworm prevention for dogs. We believe, and have science to back us up, that giving prevention all through the year is necessary to prevent heartworm disease. Since heartworm disease is not as prevalent in Iowa as it is elsewhere in the country, we have been recommending that pets on heartworm prevention all year round be tested for heartworms every 2 years. Until now…
The American Heartworm Society recommends annual heartworm testing for all dogs, regardless of where they live. Therefore, we are working to improve our quality of care for your pet by aligning ourselves with their recommendation.
We now recommend annual heartworm testing for all dogs.
Heartworm disease in dogs is a deadly disease. Left untreated, it can cause irreversible damage to the heart, lungs, and the vessels of those organs. It’s also preventable via heartworm prevention! Heartworm disease can have minimal to no symptoms until the disease is quite advanced. See our other blog posts on canine and feline heartworm disease for more information. By testing yearly, we will be able to diagnose infections earlier, thus allowing treatment sooner and with lower risks of side effects from the treatment.
Heartworm disease is a year-round disease. Heartworm disease is spread via mosquitoes. Mosquitoes come out when temperatures are above 30-40 degrees. Although it may be cold outside of town, city environments allow temperatures to be higher (even in Eldridge!). Plus, we’ve had some wacky winters, so we’ve seen an even higher chance of mosquitoes emerging earlier than normal. If mosquitoes are out, risk of contracting heartworm disease is present.
Heartworm treatment is not without risk. The gold standard for heartworm treatment is a drug called Immiticide. One of the main ingredients is arsenic. We essentially have to poison your dog to treat heartworm disease. It’s a painful treatment, and not without risks. Additionally, Immiticide has been in short supply over the last several years. Earlier detection of the heartworm infection will allow us to discuss alternative treatment options if Immiticide is unwanted or unavailable.
Heartworm can be resistant to preventatives. The American Heartworm Society has also proven that there are strains of heartworm that are resistant to some of the common heartworm preventatives. Since we are seeing more and more positive cases of heartworm in the Quad Cities area, we have to keep this potential of resistance in our thoughts. Being able to detect a resistant infection sooner before irreversible damage is done is another reason to test annually.
We are happy to answer any questions you may have about this change at your next visit, or feel free to contact us anytime!