Welcome to Heartworm Awareness Month! Though many deaf dogs are at risk of contracting heartworm disease every month of every year, April is a perfect time to start a conversation about keeping our deaf dogs healthy!
Here in South Florida, mosquitoes aren’t a seasonal pest that comes around for a few months at a time; down here, they feed on us all year round.
Living in a near-tropical climate, we spend a lot of time outside. We drink our morning coffee on the porch. We lunch on the beach or at outdoor cafes. We have evening cocktails in the garden and supper under the stars. If you can tolerate the heat and humidity, it’s not a bad life.
But here’s the rub: our year-round outdoor meals double as meal time for mosquitoes, too.
As we gather outside, so do they. As we’re biting into our sandwich, they’re biting us. We smack them hard but another one quickly comes to take its place. For us, mosquitoes are irritating but basically harmless. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for our dogs. For them, mosquitoes are much more than a nuisance; they can be deadly.
Mosquitoes transmit parasites that present a very serious health risk for our dogs: heartworm disease. The good news is that prevention is easy and won’t break the bank.
This post is sponsored by Virbac® Sentinel® Spectrum® and the BlogPaws® Pet Influencer Network™. I am being compensated to help create awareness about protection against common parasites found in dogs but I only share information I feel is relevant to my readers. YOU CAN FIND MORE INFORMATION ABOUT SENTINEL SPECTRUM HERE. Virbac is not responsible for the content of this article.
Over 300,000 dogs are diagnosed with heartworm disease every year, but do you know how heartworms are transmitted?
The quick and dirty explanation is that a mosquito bites a heartworm positive dog, flies away and then bites your dog. When it is feeding on your beloved Fido, it is also transmitting microfilaria into his blood stream. Microfilaria are heartworms at a very early stage of development. As they develop into adult heartworms, they settle in your dog’s heart. In time, your dog can become lethargic, stop eating and/or develop problems breathing. If left untreated, heartworm disease can cause damage to the heart, lungs, both or even death.
Fortunately, treatment is available that can save your dog’s life, but treatment is not without its complications. Here a few things you should know about treating heartworm disease:
- First, it’s expensive. If your dog is positive for heartworms, usually the first thing your veterinarian will do is run blood work to confirm the positive result. She or he will likely want additional bloodwork and x-rays to make sure your dog is healthy enough for treatment. Add in the cost of an expensive and, often times, not readily available drug, and the cost of treatment can soar. Here in South Florida, it costs about $2000.00 to treat a dog for heartworm disease. That’s a lot of interactive toys and organic dog treats!
- It’s painful! Typical heartworm treatment involves two to three injections of immiticide deep into your dog’s lumbar muscles. It requires a long needle going into your dog’s sensitive muscles near his spine and it definitely hurts. Usually, your dog will need pain medication after treatment.
- It’s boring! After treatment, your dog will need to be on very restricted exercise for a long time. After treatment, the adult heartworms die off but pieces of their bodies can block blood vessels in the lungs. When your dog’s heart rate increases because he is running or playing, pieces of dead heartworms can be forced into blood vessels in the lungs causing a blood clot. To prevent this from happening, Fido is going to be in his crate except when he’s being walked on his leash for a couple of months after treatment.
While heartworm treatment has, without a doubt, saved the lives of millions of dogs, preventing heartworm disease is a cheaper, safer and easier way to achieve the same results. In this case, that old adage about an ounce of prevention is true.
Heartworm prevention is easily available from your veterinarian. They can test him for heartworm disease at the clinic with a few drops of blood. If he is negative, then your veterinarian can give you a monthly preventative that will kill off those microfilaria that mosquitos leave behind, preventing your dog from ever having adult heartworms clogging up his heart. After that, annual heartworm testing is recommended.
As a veterinary technician, I have tried lots of different heartworm prevention products. Recently, I switched Edison to Sentinel® Spectrum® because it provides safe protection against heartworm disease but it also prevents 5 other parasites in one monthly, beef and bacon-flavored chew.
Every 30 days, I give him one chewy dose- which he thinks is a treat. This one chew prevents heartworms, 4 intestinal parasites- hookworms, roundworms, whipworms and tapeworms- and also helps control fleas. Sentinel Spectrum is the only 6-in-1 preventative product available and using it makes my life easier. I give it once a month, every month, and my worries are gone!
So get outside and enjoy time with your dog! Play, hike, swim or sip lattes at an outdoor cafe- whatever makes you both happy and feel connected. With a monthly heartworm, flea and intestinal parasite prevention you can run wild with the wind or picnic in the park knowing your dog is protected.
What I discovered after I started using Sentinel Spectrum is that I can sign up for a handy monthly email or text message reminder that Edison’s dose is due. This helps me be a compliant pet parent so I can keep Edison parasite-free and healthy for many years to come!
To learn more about Sentinel Spectrum (milbemycin oxime/lufenuron/praziquantel) so that you can ask your veterinarian if it this preventative product is right for your dog, for you please read the product information here.
If you have any questions about heartworm disease, mosquitos, fleas or intestinal parasites, let me know in a comment below. I’ll use my veterinary technician brain to get you the information you need. Just remember, I’m not a veterinarian!
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Virbac® Sentinel®. The opinions and text are all mine.