Heartworm prevention

Full-blown heartworm disease is risky and difficult to treat, but prevention is easy!

Heartworm prevention should begin at 12 weeks of age and, to be effective, must continue for the whole of your pet’s life. Pets that have not been on consistent heartworm prevention should be tested, and be negative, before going onto any heartworm prevention medication. This is because if they receive preventative medication when they have adult worms in their heart, they can have a severe reaction when the worms die and parts of the worm may be sent through the arteries of the body where they act as clots and points of infection. This can lead to serious life-threatening complications.

There are three groups of heartworm prevention medication:

Products that are given daily: Diethylcarbamazine citrate or DEC is found in all the daily heartworm tablets. It's cheaper than the monthly tablets, but must be given every single day. Once the dog is over six months, if two tablets are missed in a row, the dog must be re-tested before another tablet can be given. DEC given to an infected dog can be fatal.

Products that are given monthly: There are various types of monthly preventative products that come in the form of tablets or spot-ons. Heartguard, Interceptor, Sentinal, Panoramis, Revolution and Advocate are all examples of monthly products that can be used to effectively prevent Heartworm. However, monthly products need to be given on the same day each month to be effective. If a dose is missed you need to continue prevention as soon as you realise this, but your pet will have risked getting infected with heartworm in the time that they were unprotected. Therefore we recommend to have your pet tested for heartworm again six months later (which is the time it takes for heartworm larvae to make their way to the heart and become adult heartworms).

Products that are given yearly: Proheart is a once-yearly injection given by us, your vet, to prevent heartworm. The injection is suitable for pups from 12 weeks and is the preferred method of preventing heartworm at Bakers Hill Veterinary Hospital. This injection is ideal for owners who want the convenience of not having to remember daily or monthly products. The injection is based on the weight of the dog, is given twice in the first year of life and then once a year. It can be given at the same time as your dog's yearly vaccinations, or you can offset it so that you have a visit with us every 6 months.