Heartworms are serious, even in fall

Published 11:56 am Monday, October 12, 2015

Fall is here and the mosquitoes are at bay, so now is the time many people decide to take their dogs and cats off of heartworm prevention.

The costs for heartworm preventative can be less than $5-$10 a month depending on the brand, so it is wise to keep your pet on it year-round and not pick that item to be where you save some money over the winter. While most mosquitoes are dead, there might be a few lingering here and there to munch on your dog while outside.

Heartworms are born in your dog’s or cat’s heart when a mosquito bites an infected pet and then bites your dog or cat. Because of just one quick, little bite, even your strictly indoors pet can become infected. It doesn’t just happen to outdoor four-legged friends.

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Plus, by keeping your pet on heartworm prevention, even if it has picked up heartworms in the past, the monthly dose of ivermectin in the heartworm chews will kill baby worms that might establish, while over time it kills the adult worms. There’s roughly a two-month period where the larvae deposited in your pet develop into a problem.

I adopted a dog from the animal shelter who on top of getting impregnated, losing half a leg in some sort of trap in Pontotoc County and being scared and sick, had heartworms. She went through a whole lot to become the diva she is now. She went through the expensive fast-kill method with shots and antibiotics. The worms were advancing enough that she just felt sick and sluggish and she had to be kept still for months while undergoing treatment. That fast-kill treatment can run anywhere from $500 to $1,000 these days and put your animal through some frustrating days, so it’s both smart from a price point and health standpoint to just keep a pet on preventative through the fall and winter.

The American Heartworm Society has educational resources for pet owners and veterinarians alike on its website, www.heartwormsociety.org. To keep costs down for heartworm prevention, there are a couple of online veterinarian websites I have used for the past 20 years, Valley Vet and Drs. Foster and Smith. If you buy six months or a year’s worth at a time, with a local veterinarian’s prescription, you can get a good deal.

A pet dies a slow, torturous death with heartworms. Please do right by your pet and keep it safe.

Stephanie Rebman is editor of the Oxford EAGLE. Contact her at stephanie.rebman@oxfordeagle.com.