T.S. Eliot once called April “the cruelest month,” though he probably wasn’t thinking about heartworms at the time. You see, April is the month that most veterinarians start checking dogs for heartworm organisms they may have been exposed to during the previous mosquito season. The worms can only be detected after they reach sexual maturity, which takes about six months. Before this time, the host will not exhibit any symptoms. According to most experts, heartworms are easy to prevent, but hard to cure.
Because the disease is spread by infected mosquitoes, cases of heartworms are more common in temperate and tropical areas. That said, cases have been reported in all 50 states, even in Alaska! Dogs of any age can contract the diseases, even puppies. In fact, they are far more likely to succumb to it, since they have immature immune systems. That is why most veterinarians recommend starting puppies on heartworm preventives as early as four weeks of age. These medications have been proven up to 99 percent effective at preventing the disease.
How do they work?
For less than the cost of a cup of coffee, you can protect your furry friend from this deadly disease. Pills, tablets, and topical solutions can be purchased with a prescription, either online or at your vet’s office. The most popular preventative treatment is a beef-flavored chewable tablet that must only administered once a month. Trust us, it’s worth the money!
* There are a number of effective medications on the market today, including:
* Interceptor: Available in flavored, chewable tablets, it guards against heartworms, roundworms, whipworms, and hookworms.
* Sentinel: Combines a heartworm preventative with a flea-control agent.
* Heartgard Plus: Sold in chewable cubes, it protects against heartworms, roundworms, and hookworms.
* Proheart: Prescribed in tablet form, it guards against heartworms alone.
* Revolution: This topical solution is the latest in heartworm preventative care. It also protects against fleas, ticks, and ear mites.
Heartworm disease isn’t always easy to detect, even for a trained professional. The symptoms come on slowly, as the worms grow; and they are often mistaken for other, more common conditions. Your puppy may have a nagging cough or be a bit lethargic. But it is only during the final stages that symptoms are impossible to miss. For example, your furry friend may pass out because the worms are obstructing the blood …