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Heartworm Disease and Heartworm Preventative

How is heartworm disease transmitted?

Heartworm disease is generally preventable by giving a monthly heartworm preventative. We use Heartgard Plus or Interceptor for our patients. Annual testing for heartworm is recommended even when animals have been taking heartworm preventative faithfully each month. The rational behind this recommendation includes lapses in medication, dogs spitting out a pill without the owner’s knowledge and the reality that no medication is 100% effective. Young puppies are not tested because it takes 6 months from the time of infection for an adult heartworm to develop and begin producing microfilaria. The snap heartworm test detects antigen shed by the adult heartworm.

We recommend that all dogs are on monthly heartworm preventative year-round.

Heartworm Prevention Products

Heartgard Plus for Dogs

Heartgard Plus and Tri-Heat Plus are used in the prevention of heartworm disease and control of hookworms and roundworms.

Interceptor

In dogs, Interceptor is used in the prevention of heartworm disease, control of hookworms, and the removal and control of roundworms and whipworms.

In cats, Interceptor is used in the prevention of heartworm disease and in the removal of hookworms and roundworms.

Note: Heartgard for Cats is a different formula. Heartgard Plus for Dogs may not be given to cats. If you need Heartgard for your cat, a prescription may be written or you may contact an online pharmacy to fax a request for authorization to dispense Heartgard for Cats.

Fleas and Ticks

No tick product repels 100%.  You may continue to see ticks on your pets, but once exposed to the medication they will die within 24 hours.  It takes at least 48 hours once a tick is attached for the tick-borne disease to reach the mouthparts of the tick and be transmitted to the pet. 

When applying topical products to cats, part the hair and apply product directly to the skin at the base of the skull to prevent the product being ingested during grooming.  

When applying topical products to dogs, part the hair and apply product to four different spots along the spine.

The pet should not be bathed 48 hours before or after application.  After the 48 hour period bathing should only be done with a mild dog shampoo. Using medicated shampoos, flea and tick shampoos, Dawn dish soap type products, or human shampoos will strip the oils from the skin, thereby greatly reducing the efficacy of these products. Topicals work by being absorbed into the sebaceous system which produces natural body oils. The product is then distributed evenly throughout the entire body by the oils. A dog that swims a lot will also greatly reduce the efficacy of the product. Owners with dogs that must be bathed frequently with medicated shampoos or that swim frequently may want to consider using the oral flea and tick product, Nexgard.

In the event of a flea infestation, Advantage and Advantix products may be used every two weeks due to their cumulative effect.  Once the fleas are under control, you should resume once a month treatment.  Frontline does not have a cumulative effect and should only be applied once a month.

In the event of a flea infestation we also recommend that owners treat their homes. Sprinkle Borateen (Borax) on carpets and upholstery. Let sit for two hours, vacuum up and then discard the vacuum bag. This has a drying effect on flea eggs and larvae in the environment. A small area should be colorfast tested before applying the Borax.   

Remember, fleas only hop on the animal for a bloodmeal, followed by hopping off the animal to lay eggs which then drop into the environment. A female flea can lay up to 2,000 eggs during her lifespan of 3-4 weeks. So, if you are seeing fleas on your pet, chances are there are thousands of eggs waiting to hatch into adult fleas!

We recommend that flea/tick preventative be used year-round.

Flea/Tick Prevention Products

Cats only:

Topical

Frontline Plus and Frontline Gold for Cats (fleas/ticks)

Advantage II  (fleas only)

Advatage Multi - fleas, heartworm disease, ear mites, roundworms, and hookworms

Dogs only:

Topical

Frontline Plus and Frontline Gold for Dogs (fleas/ticks)

K9 Advantix II (fleas/ticks) – This product is toxic to cats. If there are cats in the household, it is recommended that the cats be separated from the dog for 24 hours after an application.

Oral

Nexgard (fleas/ticks) – This is a monthly chewable tablet.

Bravecto (fleas/ticks) - This is a three month chewable tablet for dogs

Collars

Another option for pet owners is the Seresto collar for fleas and ticks. This can be used by cats and dogs and remains effective for 8 months.