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Do you give your pets Heartworm Preventatives

118118 Views 596 Replies 451 Participants Last post by  IdunGSD
I'm finding such mixed opinions on this, even from vets! I'd love to know what everyone here thinks.
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Jyra used to get the monthly Heartgard tablet, but now she gets a yearly heartworm vaccination
I don't give my two boys heartworm here. The vet told me that it is not a problem in this part of the country.
;0) If it is working well, don't bother to fix it.
I think that's where I'm running into the mixed messages here from vets. I'm in North Dakota (Hi neighbor Gaily!) and some vets push it and others don't.
Very confusing. I think I'll go see if I can find info on reported cases in my state just for the heck of it.
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Both girls get Heartgard monthly, all year. A dog on the other street in my development had heartworm disease (probably because the moron owners didn't bother to do anything for this dog) so I will not take any chances...

They also get the Lyme preventative vaccination, another dog on my street (black lab) tested positive for Lyme last year and had to be on meds for months...
No, that's not some strange pasta dish, it is a heartworm infested heart. I feel compelled to share that picture whenever I can.

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I do not give heartworm preventative to Jewely. I did have her tested when I adopted her not knowing her background or previous location..she tested negative.

According to my vet there hasn't been a case of heartworm in this area.....yet.
I give the fuzzybutts either Interceptor or Heartgard May-Nov. Around here I have far too many HW+ dogs at the shelter - just put 2 of them down for that reason on Tuesday (we usually treat but one dog wasn't temperamentally sound and the other had already been with us 1 month raising her litter and had begun to go kennel crazy).

Anyone here do the Proheart 6 months shot? We just started using that at the shelter for all the dogs but I was concerned about using it for my own dogs - seems like too much meds all at once.
Lucy gets the yummy heartworm treat once a month and always will. Here in the South you just can't take chances, even when they're on the flea meds.
I've heard bad things about the shots. There's even talk about class action suits due to all the dog deaths. My friend's perfectly healthy golden retriever became ill and died from heart problems 6 mo. after getting the shot.
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I don't think I'll use for my own, I hadn't realized our shelter was switching to that method until I was told to give a dog his HW shot. We'll see how it goes with them.
Yes, absolutely. I've had to treat two rescues for heartworm disease. And with so many dogs coming out of shelters HW+, it's such a simple step to prevent a fatal disease. But I would never do the ProHeart injection. A friend's Westie died the day after getting it and he was just given a clean bill of health by his vet. Even Fort Dodge admits there have been deaths reported "in the field" from it. Monthly tabs for me from April through November.
We give the monthly heartworm preventative in the warmer months, don't like to take chances. It's not common up here, but all the same I fell better doing the preventatives. Of the five home on our little road that have dogs two of those homes have dogs that have become sick from Lyme (not just tested positive, but have become sick) and I recall my G'ma's GSD that lived it's entire life in northern NY state having had heartworm. As much as I worry about the possible ill effects of these preventatives, I worry more about my puppers becoming dibilitatingly ill.
Yes, I give it to all three the first of every month. We are in the south. Have seen too many come into rescue with heartworms.

All of my animals are on heatworm preventatives and I will tell you why. I worked for a vet for two years and I saw a LOT of dogs diagnosed with HW disease. Some of them, by the way, were not diagnosed until after they were dead--a horrible way to die in case your wondering. Others were diagnosed when the owners brought them in for a complaint like coughing or exercise intolerance, or when an owner came in for a routine annual exam and requested a HW test. The animals who were treated had to endure a round of poison to their system about 10 times as bad as any HW prevention out there. We kept them overnight because it often made them very ill--some dogs with the worst cases of worms would even go into seizures. Even the ones who handled it well had to endure a lot. HW treatment is a time consuming process that involves treating, testing, retreating, retesting for several weeks, during which time exercise must be restricted. It involves blood draws--not just the tiny amount needed for a standard Occult test, but a testtube full (what they call a "knox" test, which was once the only way to diagnose the problem.) Dogs with HW disease are not always healthy even after successful treatment--the worms can permanantly damage the heart, causing complications which last for the rest of their life. A life which, by the way, may now be shortened significantly.

I had the unhappy experience of watching a dog die from HW disease once. The owner was playing ball with the dog (a boxer) when he just keeled over and began gasping. By the time he reached the clinic the dog had foam and blood pouring from his nose; he was choking; his tongue was blue. We put him on oxygen, but his lungs were so filled with fluid from his heart failure it didn't help. He died. When the doctor performed a necropsy he found a heart completely filled with worms--like the picture Jean posted. The dogs owners requested that we keep the heart and put it on educate people.
See less See more other thing. For the people who treat their dogs only during the warmer months, please make sure to have your dogs HW tested BEFORE you restart prevention. Giving HW prevention to a dog which is HW positive is very dangerous and, in cases, has been fatal.
Unbridled , thats old school thinking. Many vets now suggest a 2-3 year span between testing for HW. The newer medications do not affect the dog and HWs the same way. Infact when i worked at a vets office, we often put HW + dogs on monthly preventative to keep any NEW heartworms from developing( the monthly only wipes out the filaria with in the first 45 days of development, but doesn't affect the adults). The vet even surmised that the adults would eventually die a natural death, and being on the preventative was like being on birth control for the heartworms.

The new monthly heartworm prevention medications are safer to use than the
older diethylcarbamazine (DEC) based medications. DEC could cause serious
illness and even death in a patient given the medication while harboring
heartworm microfilaria. Preventing this occurrence was the original reason
for annual testing. The newer monthly heartworm medications do not cause
serious reactions in the great majority of cases in which microfilaria are
present and are actually used commonly as microfilaricidal treatments after
the adult heartworms are eliminated. Due to this, many vets are comfortable
testing at longer intervals now. I think that the American Heartworm
Society recommendation is "every two to three years" at this time.
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Originally posted by griz:
The vet even surmised that the adults would eventually die a natural death, and being on the preventative was like being on birth control for the heartworms.
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Okay, if they have found that HW prevention isn't harmful to a positive dog then that's great. That doesn't mean, in my opinion, that testing isn't necessary. The adult worms could be damaging the dog's heart while they wait to die of natural causes. I am willing to go the 3 year route with vaccines, but I've seen too many people take the gamble with HW prevention and lose.

Also, I was under the impression that it was illegal to dispense HW prevention without a prescription and that the prescription could only be legally obtained if a dog tested negative of heartworms no longer than 12 months before. But maybe that is a state, not a federal, law.

I'm surprised you call my posts old school--I only stopped working as a tech 3 months ago and these were the guidelines we followed. And my current vet (a different one than I worked for) is adament about yearly tests and year-round prevention for dogs. But I supposed every vet has his own opinions on matters like this. Bottom line is it's up to the owners to educate themselves and make choices they are comfortable with. I would be comfortable with nothing less than a tablet once a month, year round (we live in a high risk area) and a yearly blood test. Obviously others feel differently.

[ April 20, 2004, 11:08 PM: Message edited by: Unbridled Brunette ]
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Nope - never have, never will. I have my dogs tested every year (the older gilr twice a year).

Jean - how long had that dog had Heartworm - the one from the photo?? A dog couldn't get THAT advanced and not show outward signs of a problem. GOOD owners don't let their dogs get THAT sick without taking action.
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