Why Heartworm Prevention for Pets is Important

heartworm prevention in Fort Lauderdale, FL
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Why Heartworm Prevention for Pets is Important

Heartworm prevention is a fundamental aspect of caring for your pet. Heartworms are parasitic worms that live in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels of animals such as dogs and cats. These worms can cause serious health problems and even death if left unaddressed. In this article, we will talk about the value of heartworm prevention for pets and why it is important to take preventative measures to protect your furry friend.

Understanding Heartworm Disease

Before discussing the importance of heartworm prevention, it is important to comprehend what heartworm disease is and how it impacts your pet. Heartworm disease is caused by a parasitic worm called Dirofilaria immitis. Once inside the animal’s body, the worm grows and multiplies, causing damage to the heart, lungs, and blood vessels.

Heartworm disease is not only a risk to dogs but also affects cats, ferrets, and other mammals. In dogs, the disease develops through an array of phases, beginning with mild coughing and weariness, progressing to more severe symptoms like weight loss, difficulty breathing, and heart failure. It is a slow and insidious disease, with the symptoms taking years to show, making it difficult to spot in its early stages. Prevention is key to avoiding this devastating disease.

The Transmission of Heartworm Disease

The primary mode of transmission of heartworm disease is via the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes acquire the disease when they bite an infected animal with heartworm disease. The larvae of the parasite then grow within the mosquito and are transferred to other animals when the mosquito bites again. Dogs are the most common host for heartworms, but cats and other mammals, including humans, can also become infected.

The Importance of Prevention

The best way to protect your pet from heartworm disease is through prevention. Preventative measures include giving your pet a monthly heartworm preventative medication, limiting their exposure to mosquitoes, and having them tested regularly for heartworm disease.

Monthly heartworm preventative medication is a simple and efficient approach to protect your pet. These drugs work by killing heartworm larvae before they can develop into adult worms. This helps to stop the disease from spreading to other animals and avoids your pet from contracting heartworm disease. These treatments are typically given monthly or every six months, depending on the type of treatment and the pet’s individual needs.

Limiting your pet’s exposure to mosquitoes is another important step in heartworm prevention. Mosquitoes are the main source of heartworm disease, limiting your pet’s exposure to them can significantly lower the risk of infection. This can be achieved by using insect repellent, confining your pet indoors during peak mosquito hours, and getting rid of any standing water around your home where mosquitoes can breed.

Treatment of Heartworm Disease

If your pet does become infected with heartworm disease, prompt treatment is essential. Treatment typically involves a series of injections to kill adult worms and prevent further damage to the heart and lungs. However, treatment can be expensive and can also be risky for your pet. That’s why prevention, instead of treatment, is so important.

heartworm prevention in Fort Lauderdale, FL

Choosing a Heartworm Preventative Medication

There are various heartworm-preventative medications available on the market. It is important to discuss with your veterinarian which medication is best for your pet. There are a few things to consider when picking a medication including your pet’s age, weight, and overall health. It is also important to follow the medication’s instructions carefully to ensure its effectiveness.

Types of Heartworm Prevention

There are several types of heartworm prevention available for pets. These include:

Monthly Heartworm Preventatives

Monthly heartworm preventatives are the most common form of prevention. They generally function by eradicating the heartworm parasite’s larvae before they can develop into adult worms and are used locally or orally.

Injectable Heartworm Preventatives

Injectable heartworm preventatives are given by a veterinarian and last for up to six months. Usually, dogs that have trouble swallowing oral drugs are given injections.

Heartworm Preventative Implants

Heartworm preventative implants are a newer form of prevention that is inserted beneath the skin of the pet. They last for up to six months and are a great alternative for pets that struggle to take oral medications.

Maintaining Heartworm Prevention

Maintaining heartworm prevention is essential to ensure your pet stays protected. Monthly heartworm preventatives should be administered year-round, even in colder months when mosquitoes may not be present. Missing even one dose can put your pet at risk of heartworm disease.

 Testing for Heartworm Disease

Testing for heartworm disease is another essential component of heartworm prevention. Even with diligent prophylaxis, there is still a risk of infection. Regular heartworm tests can help detect the presence of heartworms before they cause significant damage to your pet’s health. Testing is typically done through a blood test and should be done annually.

The Cost of Prevention

Prevention is essential in protecting your pet from heartworm disease. While the cost of heartworm preventative medication may seem high, it is much less expensive than the cost of treatment if your pet becomes infected. Treating heartworm disease can be expensive, especially if it is detected at an advanced stage. The treatment involves several rounds of medication and may also require hospitalization, which can add to the cost.

What is the risk of not preventing dogs from heartworm?

Heartworm disease can be spread from one infected dog to another through mosquito bites. If a dog is not given heartworm prevention medication, it can become a source of infection for other pets in the household. Additionally, if your dog does get heartworm, there are a number of symptoms that could ultimately be fatal.


Heartworm prevention is essential in protecting your pet from heartworm disease. Prevention involves giving your pet a monthly heartworm preventative medication, limiting their exposure to mosquitoes, and having them tested regularly for heartworm disease. While the cost of prevention may seem high, it is much less expensive than the cost of treatment. However, if you pet is infected, it is necessary to consult the veterinarian.

If you are looking for a veterinarian that provides comprehensive heartworm prevention in Fort Lauderdale, FL, Contact Park Veterinary Hospital today at (954) 561-8387, or Request an Appointment Online.

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