If you have ever taken your dog to the veterinarian, you have probably been asked about heartworm prevention. Do you have your dog on heartworm prevention, which kind, when was the last time he got it, do you give it all year long, when was the last time he was tested. Does that sound familiar? (Hopefully it does!) We often get asked if dogs who are “only inside” still need to be on heartworm prevention medicines.
Can My Inside Dog Get Heartworms?
Let’s start with the basics about heartworms. Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes. A mosquito bites a dog who has heartworms, and gets some of the teeny-tiny baby heartworms. The teeny-tiny baby heartworms grow up into not-quite-so-teeny teenager heartworms. Then that mosquito bites your dog – and gives him teenager heartworms. Those teenager heartworms grow up into adults and give your dog heartworm disease. (Read more details about the heartworm life cycle here.)
We get questions every day about whether an “inside dog” needs to be on heartworm prevention. Mosquitoes are outside, and the dog is inside so there’s no problem, right?
Mosquitoes are everywhere. They buzz around our yards. They sneak inside our houses when we’re coming home from a long day at work. They swoop in when our kids leave the doors open. They squeeze through the screens when the windows are open.
Mosquitoes are hungry. They’ll snack on your or your kids when you’re playing outside. They’ll get a meal from any dog, cat, or other animal they can find.
Mosquitoes are determined. They’ll find a way inside your sleeve to bite your wrist. They’ll burrow down into a long-haired dog’s coat to get a meal.
Heartworm disease can be fatal. If it is caught early it can be treated, but the treatment is expensive, and can be dangerous. Heartworm prevention medicines are safe and effective at keeping your dog from getting heartworm disease – when they are used appropriately.
We strongly recommend that every dog be on heartworm prevention medicine. The most common form of heartworm prevention is a chewable pill that is given every month. We also have an injection that gives 6 months of heartworm prevention. We also recommend that every dog get tested for heartworms once a year, even if they have been on heartworm prevention medicine all year long. This test is especially important if your dog does not get his heartworm prevention medicine during the cold months.
Is your dog on monthly heartworm prevention medicine? When is the last time he got his pill? When is the last time he was tested? Do you want more information about the 6 month heartworm prevention shot? Call us or come in! Our veterinary technicians or veterinarians can answer all your questions about heartworms, prevention medicines, and tests. We can decide which method of prevention is best for you and your furry family member. Have a heartworm-free spring and summer!
Check out our Heartworm Disease Resource Page for even more information about heartworms.