The Importance of Prevention
Ivermectin was the main ingredient in heartworm prevention for many decades. Due to its overuse, this active ingredient is no longer nearly as effective and we have seen several positive cases over the past 5 years despite routinely receiving their monthly Ivermectin based heartworm prevention (example Heartgard®, Triheart®). We do not recommend using Ivermectin based preventatives for this reason.
What is Heartworm Disease?
Heartworm Disease is a systemic issue, meaning it affects many systems of the body including the heart, lungs, and kidney. Within 6-8 months of exposure the small larvae develop into worms that are from 6-12” long and clog up the heart chambers, pulmonary arteries, and reduce proper blood flow to other organs. They continue to breed within the heart chamber, creating more and more heartworms. This weakens the heart and can cause respiratory distress, heart failure as well as poor kidney function over time and can lead to death if left untreated.
Mosquitoes – The Flying Disease Vector
Heartworm Disease is carried by mosquitoes. It is transmitted when the mosquito takes a blood meal from a pet that has active Heartworm Disease, and when they take their next meal, they inject a small amount of blood into the new victim, pushing microfilariae (young heartworms) into their blood stream. Because this vector is so common, dogs AND cats can contract this disease.
Why is Heartworm so Prevalent Here?
We have a very large population of roaming stray dogs AND owned dogs and cats that are not routinely on prevention and have heartworm disease. This makes the disease very prevalent here and it is extremely rare that dogs or cats who are not on routine heartworm prevention do not contract the disease.
Diagnosing heartworm is simple and inexpensive with a blood test. We require annual testing of all our canine patients receiving prevention, because catching this disease early reduces the cost and time of treatment, as well as prevents long term damage from happening to your pet. In addition, if you are purchasing your prevention from Bark and Bliss, the manufacturer of the heartworm preventative will often cover the cost of treatment when your pet has been tested annually, and has received prevention as directed. Lastly, giving a dog heartworm prevention that already has active disease can cause them to get extremely sick or even die.
There are multiple options for the treatment of moderate to severe heartworm disease in dogs. The fastest treatment
involves a month of antibiotics to render the heartworms sterile and make it safe for treatment, followed by a series of 3 injections given over 3 months. These injections slowly kill off the adult worms. Another treatment option involves the month of antibiotics, and a topical treatment applied monthly for a 10-month period. For more mild cases, we often can
do a 3-month treatment cycle. In cats there are no treatments available, so prevention is key.
Prevention is the Best Medicine
Heartworm disease kills a great deal of pets in Turks and Caicos. Prevention of heartworm disease has an average
cost of $18.50 or less per month versus treatment which will cost at a minimum $42 per month. We can help you
find the most cost effective and convenient option for your pet, to keep them protected and safe from this common and fully preventable disease.
- Firstly, when your dog gets worked up give them a verbal cue that works to both catch their attention and provides them with something to do. That cue can be “sit,” “down,” or even “relax.” You just want to make sure you can use it consistently.
- Secondly, use the word until your dog performs the behavior that you want, such as lying down, sitting at your feet, or even just stopping what they are doing and looking at you. You may have to show them what to do the first few times until they get the hang of it.