Vet Blog

The Dangers of Skipping Heartworm Preventative

April 30, 2019

When you first select your veterinarian in Hoover, AL, one of the first things that they will speak to you about will be preventative care.

Preventative care is what stands between your pet and him getting sick from one of the many illnesses and diseases that could potentially be a threat to his health. Fortunately, preventative care that is properly administered can protect your pet from the majority of these threats.

Heartworms are just one of the diseases that your vet will recommend that your pet is given preventative medication for. Unfortunately, many owners still don't fully realize the full necessity of preventatives, instead mistakenly believing that such treatments are an unnecessary expense. This couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, it is around 15 times more expensive to treat heartworms than it is to prevent them. Since heartworms have been reported in all 50 states and in all stages of the seasonal year, the risk of your pet contracting the disease is so high that it would be irresponsible not to ensure that your pet is properly protected.

Heartworm preventatives that are taken orally or applied topically are typically administered monthly. However, injectable heartworms preventatives have been shown to be effective for as long as 6 months, meaning that twice-annual administration is usually sufficient. Ensuring that your chosen preventative is administered on time, every time, will be a discussion that your vet will have with you. Why? Because it is far too risky to skip or be late with your pet's heartworm medication.

Why You Shouldn't Skip Heartworm Medication

Many people think that veterinarians are over-reacting when they place so much emphasis on the importance of administering the preventative medication on time. After all, it would be extremely unlucky for our animals to contract a disease in just a day or two where their protection isn't optimal, wouldn't it? The truth is that the risk of them contracting a parasitic infection like heartworms is very real.

Heartworms are spread by mosquitos. There are approximately 30 varieties of mosquitos capable of carrying heartworm larvae; mosquitos are much more resilient than most people expect. They are no longer restricted to residing in warmer states. Evidence of mosquitos and heartworm infections has been found in every state in America, meaning that there is no geographical location that doesn't present a risk. Mosquitos are also fast, small and difficult to spot, even for the most conscientious owner. In most instances where a pet has been affected, their owner doesn't even realize that their furbaby has been bit, let alone contracted heartworms until the symptoms become too significant to ignore.

Heartworms Can Be Deadly

The effect that heartworms can have on your pet can be both debilitating and deadly. Heartworms grow up to a foot in length and set up home in the heart, lungs, and neighboring blood vessels of your pet. Their size means that they take up a significant amount of space, causing blockages in the blood vessels and affecting how well the heart and lungs work. Once they reach adulthood, each worm is able to reproduce. The growing numbers trigger increased levels of damage to your pet's organs and bodily systems. Eventually, if left untreated, organ failure and death are inevitable.

Although heartworms are treatable in dogs, there are currently no approved treatments for felines. Therefore, if your cat contracts heartworms, stabilizing him and helping him outlive the worms will be all your vet can do.

If you want to ensure that your pet lives his best life, you need to be responsible for staying on top of his preventative care, including the preventatives used to protect him from heartworms.

If you are concerned about heartworm prevention or if you have questions, our experienced vets in Hoover, AL are available to offer you the help and support you need. Please contact our animal clinic today by calling (205) 822-4779.