To Love and Protect

For heartworm preventives to work, you must give them on time, every time.

By Kyra Kirkwood | Posted: Wed Feb 4 00:00:00 PST 2004

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Prevention Choices
To protect your dog, administer a preventive medication, available from your veterinarian. The various types range in price and method, giving you a plethora of choices. "Who would want to put their dog at risk for something so easily prevented?" Strother asks.

Regardless of the form, all preventives do the same thing: They keep any microfilariae (immature worms) in the dog's bloodstream from growing into adult worms. But you must give your dog his preventive on time, every time, for it to work properly. "Many owners don't admit to missing doses until we find the dog positive [for heartworm]," Doiron says. Current preventive options include:

Daily chewable tablets. The father of heartworm preventives remains one of the least expensive. But you must give it to your dog every single day. Miss a few doses, and your dog has as much risk as if you never gave him a single tablet.

Monthly pills or tablets. Pills and chewable tablets often protect against other worms. However, some dogs spit them out or vomit them up. If that happens unnoticed, "you've missed 30 days of protection," Rubin says.

Topical. Some owners find a monthly spot-on preventive easier to administer. Keep your dog dry until the medication soaks in.

Injections. Your veterinarian will give your dog a preventive shot every six months. Be sure to keep this appointment.

Veterinarians hope for a once-a-year injection, like the type currently used in Australia. But even without an annual preventive, owners have plenty of options. "No excuses," Strother says.

And when you stop and consider how much you love your dog, you won't want to make excuses and take the chance of endangering him.

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