Heartworm Alert - New Concerns for Dogs

We recently received new information from the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) that emphasizes the importance of annual heartworm testing and year-round administration of heartworm preventive:

RESISTANCE - Recent work has shown that there are isolates of heartworms that are capable of developing to adults in dogs receiving routine prophylaxis with any of the available macrocyclic lactones.

INFECTED DOGS MUST BE TREATED PROMPTLY WITH AN APPROVED ADULTICIDE AND UNINFECTED DOGS SHOULD BE MAINTAINED ON PREVENTIVES YEAR-ROUND TO PROTECT THEM AGAINST HEARTWORM INFECTION. It is extremely important, however, to do annual antigen testing on dogs receiving preventives to verify that they are not becoming infected despite precautions. Annual testing will ensure that infected dogs are detected and treated as soon as possible. For dogs living in highly endemic areas, twice-a-year testing is advised.

At this time, the geographic extent of these resistant heartworms is not known.

From http://www.capcvet.org/capc-recommendations/

And this information from the National Heartworm Society:

Annual testing is recommended for several important reasons. First, many of us do not take our own medications as directed let alone medicate our pets. We're busy; we forget; we miss a dose here and there. Second, even if you never miss a dose there is nothing to prevent your dog from eating some grass and vomiting up the medication you just gave. Your pet would be without protection for an entire month. Third, if your pet accidentally became infected with heartworms, your veterinarian needs to detect it as soon as possible before irreversible heart and lung damage occur. Early detection and treatment are always best. With annual testing, you know your pet is heartworm free. The tests are quick and accurate and make sure your pet is free from infection. Annual testing provides peace of mind in knowing that your pet is free of heartworms, and should your pet be infected, it assures you of early diagnosis.

Animal Hospital of North Asheville has always recommended annual heartworm testing and monthly year-round administration of heartworm preventive medication.  But the studies reported by the CAPC show that intermittent use of heartworm preventive, or giving heartworm preventive to dogs who are already infected, has contributed greatly to the development of resistant strains of heartworms.  Heartworms can be treated, but the disease causes damage to the heart, lungs, and sometimes kidneys, and the treatment is expensive.  Heartworm disease is spread through mosquito bites, and while Western North Carolina has a cooler climate, many dogs acquire heartworm disease in this area.  In fact, North Carolina is 8th in the nation for the incidence of heartworm disease!

In order to provide the best and safest preventive medicine for your dog, Animal Hospital of North Asheville now follows the recommendations of the CAPC and the American Heartworm Society and requires annual heartworm testing for dogs, even if they have been on monthly preventive.  Testing is quick and easy, and we have results within a few days.

Monthly heartworm prevention medications such as Trifexis and Sentinel not only control heartworms, but also hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms, which are potentially dangerous intestinal parasites that are found in the soil.  These products also control fleas.   While these products are highly effective for heartworm prevention if given monthly as directed, annual testing plus monthly preventive gives your dog the best control of parasites.

Yes, cats get heartworm disease, too, and it is important to prevent them in cats. Cats should have Revolution applied every month to prevent heartworm disease, fleas and intestinal parasites.  Please read more about heartworms in cats by clicking HERE.