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7 simple heartworm prevention tips from Veterinarians
One of the most unfortunate risks every dog owner deals with is heart worm. These parasites can sneak in and take over your dog’s body, they are hard to detect and often take months to cause symptoms, and may eventually lead to death.
When looking after the health of your dog, take into account routine preventative measures. In most cases, prevention is much cheaper and safer than treatment, and heart worm is no exception. According to the American Heartworm Society treatment can be 15x more expensive than prevention.
Rather than give heart worm a chance to take hold in your dog’s body, following these simple tips will help reduce risks while also encouraging a healthier lifestyle.
1. Monthly Preventatives
Nobody wants to watch their dog go through the harmful process of heart worm treatment, just as no one wants to go out of their way to pay hundreds or more for the procedure. Prevention is cheaper and significantly safer than what it takes to treat heart worm.
According to Pets.WebMD.com missing a month of treatment is not recommended, but can be okay during colder months. Just missing multiple months of heart worm prevention treatment can increase the risk of infection significantly.
Just one heart worm positive dog can significantly increase the risk of heart worm for all other dogs in the area. It’s less than that expensive coffee drink you like, and prevention goes a long way towards providing your dog with a long, happy, healthy life.
As far as natural or herbal remedies go, we wouldn’t recommend going that route without first consulting a qualified veterinarian. Some of the more known preventative medices are Ivermectin, Selamectin, Milbemycin, and Moxidectin.
2. Routine Checkups
In addition to monthly preventative medicine, take your dog in for checkups. Ideally this happens every 6 – 12 months.
Unfortunately, heart worm infection can begin yet still take months for symptoms to start showing up. The signs will often be subtle at first, too. If you notice decreased stamina, or your dog getting out of breath more easily, or a slight cough developing, it’s worth asking your veterinarian for an x-ray to see if anything is going on.
Even though most dogs hate going to the vet, it’s worth keeping a close eye on them. Plus, your vet is likely to spot things every day dog owners might not notice. It’s well worth the visit once or twice a year.
3. Great Nutrition
This is where every happy and healthy dog begins. Just as you would want to maintain your own body by providing it with healthy food, your dog needs the same level of attention. The healthier they are the more likely their chances are of dealing with daily life as well as heart worm risk.
In addition to your normal range of dog food, giving them our own food can be a great source of diverse nutrients, but be warned: many of the food that is okay for humans to eat is toxic to dogs, so do your homework to find out whether potential food is safe or not.
Regarding dog food, look for brands which primarily use vegetables and meat to create their product. Stay away from fillers or heavily processed foods, just as you would with your own food. Avoid food coloring, too. Remember that dogs typically have a more sensitive digestive system than humans.
This should go without saying, but give your dog plenty of water. Let them have access to it whenever they want. Our pets do a great job of reading themselves and reacting when the need for hydration comes up.
Consider adding immunity boosters like garlic, whole foods, and other nutrient rich food.
4. Plenty Of Exercise
Although the risk of heart worm is from mosquitoes, it’s still a great idea to keep your dog active. Whether they are inside or outside pups, keeping them active will promote a longer and healthier life.
Exercise won’t treat or even necessarily fight against heart worm, but it will help in other areas of health for your dog such as supporting an optimal immune system. The only real prevention is monthly preventative medicine, but a healthier dog will still face less risks than an unhealthy one.
Keep your dog well fed, active, and happy to help give them the best odds of remaining free of sickness and other ailments.
5. Keep Inside During Dawn And Dusk
Peak mosquito time is early in the morning and late near sunset when it stops being the most cold or hot that night and day usually provide. Plus, those are times when other animals begin to grow active.
During these peak mosquito times it’s best just to keep your dog inside. Although mosquitoes are an inevitable part of this world, reducing the chances of your dog being bitten will improve its chances of staying heart worm free.
There is no 100% certain way to keep your dog free of heart worm forever, but preventative measures can always be taken.
6. Reduce Mosquito Breeding Grounds
Both near your house and throughout your yard, look for standing water and other potential spots where mosquitoes might breed heavily.
Keep these breeding grounds clear and clean. Not only will you help reduce heart worm risk for you and other animals in the area, you’ll also reduce the activity of mosquitoes in your area. It’ll also go a long way towards maintaining your property and home.