Does Your Dog Need Year Round Parasite Prevention?
I am seeing an alarming trend among dog owners in that they have no idea what the name of the medication is that they are supposedly using each month in order to protect their dogs against Heartworm. I say supposedly using because Heartworm medication because it is a monthly preventative and so should be on a strict once per month schedule meaning you should be seeing the box or at least the sticker on your calendar to know what it is called. Yes, heartworm medication can be expensive if you factor in the visit to your Veterinarian every 12 months and the blood test to determine that as of that moment your dog is heartworm negative on top of the medication that is prescribed. But the cost of preventative care is minuscule compared to the cost of treatment for a heartworm positive diagnosis.
According to the Companion Animal Parasite Council 2016 is predicted to be a year of above average risk for heartworm disease in many parts of the country now is the time to get educated about the facts of heartworm disease.
This isn’t a judgement against you but a wake-up call to say now is the time to get back on track and keep your dog healthy. Make an appointment at the Vet and get your dog protected. If you live in the US your dog is at risk. According to the American Heartworm Society Stray and neglected dogs and certain wildlife such as coyotes, wolves, and foxes can be carriers of heartworms. Mosquitoes blown great distances by the wind and the relocation of infected pets to previously uninfected areas also contribute to the spread of heartworm disease. This happened following Hurricane Katrina when 250,000 pets, many of them infected with heartworms, were “rescued” and shipped throughout the country. Because it was an “emergency” situation dogs were often shipped out of the area untested or without instructions to visit a vet for a heartworm test and start on heartworm preventative immediately and go back to the vet in 6 months to retest.
Last summer I was in Alaska for a week and many of the people I met were seasonal visitors spending their entire summer working in Alaska. I know for a fact that some of them brought their dog(s) from areas more prone or known for high rates of Heartworm disease. All it would take would be for those dogs to travel out to Alaska untreated for heartworm to spread the disease not through direct contact with other dogs but through mosquito bites that then carry the larvae and bite the local dog and wildlife population. It can take 6 – 7 months from the time of an infected mosquito bite for an adult heartworm to be detected during testing. Once your dog is infected this nasty and often deadly parasite can mature in your dog to full adult worms in your dog’s bloodstream regardless of the temperature outside which is why it is so important to protect your dog year round.
Evidence was presented at the 2008 North American Veterinary Conference (NAVC) that heartworm is present across the US. So why are pets being left unprotected or only partially protected? Is the conversation not taking place at Veterinary Clinics or are people tuning the Vet out because they don’t want to be told how to care for their pet? We need to stop tuning out our Veterinarians or talking over them and actually allow them and their staff to give our dogs the best care possible. Bring a notebook so when they explain things you can write them down to go back and look at them later. That includes sharing at least a few options that they feel are the most practical and useful in your area. It means giving you information about the product so that you can learn more and become a better more factually informed advocate for your dog. It means hearing about discounts being offered by the various brands that month or rebates if purchased through the clinic. It also means sharing information that some products treat for just one parasite or two parasites while others including Virbac’s Sentinel® Spectrum® is a preventative for 6 parasites including heartworm, fleas, tapeworm, roundworm, hookworm, and whipworm. Not sure what those parasites are or why you should care about their prevention please check out our post Why Should You Protect Your Dog?
Maybe you do live in a lower risk area. If you have friends or family coming this spring, summer, or fall from high risk areas or you plan on traveling with your dog this summer it is time to visit your Vet. Have them do a heartworm test and purchase or get a prescription for heartworm preventative and ask them if Sentinel Spectrum might be the right solution for your area. In fact print out the product info sheet or save the link to your phone so that you have it with you and can show it to your vet.
Now that you know a bit more about Heartworm disease and why year round parasite prevention is key for your dog’s continued health take this survey about some of the other more prevalent parasites to better understand why protection with Sentinel Spectrum that covers 6 different parasites is a really smart option.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Virbac® Sentinel® Spectrum®. The opinions and text are all mine.