How to Protect Pets from Heartworms: 3 Steps

Learn how to protect pets from heartworms in just three steps.

Diagnosed in all 50 states, heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease affecting a number of mammals year-round, including cats and dogs. It is caused by foot-long worms (heartworms) that live in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels of affected pets. Their lasting impact causes severe lung disease, heart failure and damage to other organs in the body. A pet’s very life is a stake, even if their heart just contains one heartworm. Through prevention, including monthly heartworm pills for dogs or for cats, a pet’s life can be saved.

Learn how to protect pets from getting heartworms in three easy steps, outlined below.

STEP 1: Ensure your pet receives a yearly heartworm test.  

Your veterinarian can take a small blood sample during your pet’s regular exam appointment. Once the blood sample is tested at the lab, which is usually a quick process, your pet will be determined positive or negative for heartworms. If the results are heartworm positive, your veterinarian will share with you next steps for heartworm treatment. Even if your pet is on a preventive heartworm medication, he or she should be tested for heartworms every year. The earlier heartworm disease is detected, the better the chances for your pet’s survival, should he test positive for heartworms. Ensure heartworm testing is always included in your pet’s annual exam with your veterinarian.

STEP 2: Administer a monthly heartworm pill to your pet.

After your pet is tested for heartworms, you can obtain a prescription from your veterinarian to order your pet’s heartworm preventives, which offer nearly 100% protection against heartworms. Remember the rule of 12. Every 12 months, ensure your pet is tested for heartworms, and remember to administer your pet one heartworm preventive for dogs or for cats every month. Heartworm preventives can cost an average of $10 per month, compared to heartworm treatment, which can cost more than $1,000 or the priceless cost of your pet’s life.

There are a number of prescription heartworm pills for dogs that you can easily give to your pet at home. Protect dogs against heartworms with trusted heartworm preventives like: Trifexis, Interceptor Plus, Heartgard or Heartgard Plus, Advantage Multi for dogs, and Tri Heart Plus.

There are several trusted prescription options to also protect cats from heartworms, including Revolution for Cats, Advantage Multi for Cats and Revolution Plus for Cats. One of the top misconceptions about heartworm disease is that indoor cats do not require heartworm prevention; however, this isn’t true, as 25% of cats diagnosed with heartworm disease are indoor-only cats.

STEP 3: Control the mosquito population.

Mosquitoes transmit heartworm disease. When adult female heartworms reside in an infected animal, they produce microscopic baby worms (microfilaria) that circulate in the infected animal’s bloodstream. As a mosquito feeds on a heartworm-positive animal, it picks up these baby worms and deposits the larvae onto the surface of the next animal it feeds on, allowing the host entrance through the mosquito’s bite wound. Help eliminate the mosquito population by removing mosquito-breeding habitats, such as anything that can hold water, like unused troughs, tarps and wheelbarrows. If your yard has any low-lying areas that collect water after rainfall, be sure to fill these in. Additionally, deploy proven mosquito prevention products.

Continue learning -- find answers to FAQs about heartworms and read up on the five most common myths about heartworm disease. Remember, with an easy-to-administer monthly heartworm preventive for dogs or for cats, you could save your pet’s life. You can trust the Valley Vet Supply Pharmacy will handle your pet’s prescription accurately and fast, as if it is a medication for our own family member.

Statistics/data included above provided by American Heartworm Society. Visit HeartwormSociety.org for more information about heartworms and heartworm prevention.

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