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The Battle of the Bite: Preventing Heartworm in Dogs

Heartworm in DogsIf you have a dog, then you have probably heard about the dangers of heartworm disease, but did you know that the one and only way your dog can get heartworms is through a mosquito bite? Just a single bite from a mosquito infected with heartworm larvae is enough to transfer heartworm disease to your canine friend. Heartworm in dogs is serious and potentially fatal. It is a disease that not only affects dogs but other mammals as well, and can be really difficult to treat once your pet is infected. Therefore, it is much easier to learn how to protect your dog from heartworms than to have to deal with it once your pooch has become infected.

So what is the best method of preventing heartworm in dogs? Well, we can begin by knowing what not to do. Do not try protecting your canine from mosquito bites in the same way you protect humans from mosquito bites. If you live in a mosquito-infested area, then you know how difficult it can be to keep these pesky bugs away. The measures we use to prevent mosquitoes from biting us (i.e. repellent sprays and citronella candles) are not effective methods of preventing heartworm in dogs. Despite your best efforts to keep mosquitoes away from your canine, there is really no way to guarantee that it will not get bitten.

Utilizing a more aggressive form of protection against heartworm disease is a must. There are various preventative treatments for heartworm in dogs that include pills, ointments, and injections; most of them commonly contain the active ingredient ivermectin. The recommended dosage usually depends on the dog’s size. Pills and ointments are administered on a monthly basis while the shots provide protection for a period of six months. Generally speaking, preventative treatments cost anywhere from $35 to $85 annually.

Preventing heartworm in dogs can present a task. Some dog owners believe that it is okay to skip their canine’s preventative treatments during the winter when mosquitoes are not around, but that is not recommended. Although it may appear logical, going for a period of months without administering the medication is a well-known recipe for forgetting the medicine when mosquito season does roll around. That is simply not a chance you can afford to take, so it is best to keep giving your dog the medication all year round.

Although you will have to put some time, effort, and a little money into preventing heartworm in your dog, this sacrifice is minimal compared to the cost and emotional effects of having to treat a dog that has been infected. As a responsible dog owner, make it your duty to protect your canine companion from heartworms. Talk to your veterinarian about the specific options available for you and your dog, and once you begin administering the preventative treatment, keep it up. As you get used to doling out your dog’s regular medicine, it will become part of your routine, and trust me—your dog will thank you for it.


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