Thursday, September 1, 2011

Year-round Heartworm Preventative--Is it Necessary for an Older Dog?

When our dog, Tikki, was just a pup, we would bring him to the vet every spring for his physical and annual heartworm test. We live in a northern mid-western state where it doesn't really warm up until late April and are relatively mosquito free until this time. Starting in May, we would give him his once a month "treat" and had the little red heart sticker stuck on the family calendar as a monthly minder of his next dose.

This was the process  for the first seven or eight years of Tikki's life. But one spring the vet prescribed 12 doses instead of the usual 6-8. When questioned, he said that it was more prudent to keep protected year round then the annual spring blood test would be less necessary. In talking further with the doctor, I explained that Tikki was mostly an indoor dog and we were religious about giving him his medication monthly during the summer when mosquitoes were most active in our state. I preferred giving my senior dog time off from medications during the winter months when exposure was almost nil. So we opted to buy the six month supply and retest for heartworm in the spring. In talking with Tikki's vet, I found out  it is critical to retest every year for heartworm if your dog is not on a year round preventative. Giving the medication to a dog that tests positive for heartworms can have serious adverse affects.

Whether heartworm medication is necessary year-round  is a great debate as heartworm medication can be hard on senior dogs. It is an essential discussion to have with your vet because if your dog gets infected, heartworms can cause death. Be proactive and informed about heartworm risks in your area. Discuss your older dog's health and any possible side affects of medications with your vet to determine what is the best plan of action to keep your senior dog happy and healthy.

For Additional Info on Heartworm Protection CLICK HERE


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