As a responsible pet owner, it’s important for you to learn as much as you can about heartworm prevention in your pets. Heartworm prevention is one of the most crucial aspects of pet ownership, and taking care of your furry friend from the inside out is vital to her health and wellness, too.
In our Colorado Springs, CO, animal hospital‘s article below, you’ll find answers to some of the most common questions about heartworm prevention in pets. You can use this information to choose the best heartworm preventative option for your pet or to determine which questions you want to ask your vet. Read on to learn more!
Which Pets Need Heartworm Prevention?
Dogs are by far the most common pet affected by heartworms. However, they are not the only pets who can contract this dangerous and potentially deadly condition. It’s important to remember that your dog should be treated, but so should your other pets. Canine heartworm disease is extremely difficult and costly to manage, whereas preventing it is easy and affordable.
Cats are less common heartworm hosts than dogs, but they can still contract this condition. Cats are much more likely to die quickly from heartworms, and even just a couple of worms in a cat’s heart can be fatal. For this reason, it is especially important to keep up with treating your cat for heartworms, even if she never goes outside.
Many pet owners do not realize that ferrets can also have heartworms. It is possible for ferrets to contract heartworm infestations, which can be fatal in a short amount of time. Ferret heartworm medication is more limited than options for dogs and cats, but you can talk to your exotic animal vet for more information.
What Kinds of Heartworm Prevention are Out There?
Oral medication is the most common type of heartworm preventative. It can be fed to pets once per month to reduce the risk of heartworms.
Injections can also be given, typically monthly, and are better for pets who have trouble taking a pill.
Topical medication can be given between the shoulder blades, just like some types of flea preventative medication. This option is best for animals that don’t respond well to other types of heartworm preventative.
Herbal remedies have not been shown to be effective against heartworms, although they can reduce the risk of mosquito bites leading to heartworms. Herbal remedies are dangerous for cats but may work for dogs.
What Are the Risks of Heartworm Prevention?
One of the most common problems associated with heartworm medication in pets is an upset stomach. Pets may have nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite for up to 48 hours following their treatment. This is within the realm of normal side effects and should not be a cause for concern.
Irritation at the Injection Site
The location of injected or topically applied heartworm preventative medication may become slightly irritated for a few days. It may also be sore and itchy for your pet.
It is very rare, but some types of heartworm preventative medication may cause tremors in dogs, cats, and ferrets alike. This is an uncommon side effect. If this happens to your pet, talk to your vet for other options moving forward.
Very rarely, some pets may have an adverse allergic reaction to heartworm prevention. This does not happen very often.
What are the Benefits of Heartworm Prevention?
Reduced Risk of Heartworm Disease
The first and most important benefit of heartworm prevention for your pets is a reduced risk of heartworm disease. This condition can be fatal and is extremely difficult to treat. It is also painful and uncomfortable for affected pets, so reducing their risk is crucial.
Reduction of Current Population of Young Heartworms
Additionally, if your pet has a few heartworm larvae already, this medication can cut down on them. It may not get rid of an infection altogether, but it can help.
How Often Does Your Pet Need Heartworm Medication and Screenings?
All pets who are on heartworm medication should be treated every month. If you miss a dose of medication, your pet may be at risk of heartworms.
Even if pets have been on heartworm medication every month throughout the year, it is important to have them checked annually for heartworms too, just in case.
Schedule Your Pet’s Heartworm Screening with Our Colorado Springs, CO, Vets
Heartworm prevention is crucial for your pet’s safety and health. Your vet can give you more information about the different types of heartworm medication currently available depending on the type of pet you have. Additionally, your vet can screen your pet before getting started on the right heartworm medication.
If you have any further questions or concerns about your specific pet’s individual needs, remember that your vet is the best resource here, too. If your pet has any health issues that may contribute to your decision, you can talk these over with Cheyenne Mountain Animal Hospital by giving us a call at