There is plenty for pet owners to keep up with surrounding all the ins and outs of proper pet care. Dogs require several vaccinations, deworming treatments, regular baths, tooth brushings/dentals, daily exercise, dogfood, treats, toys, several places to sleep and lots and lots of love. Parasite treatments like Frontline and Advantage are expensive, yet they further enhance a dog’s quality of life by ridding it of fleas, larvae, and even ticks in some cases. However, the single most important thing that an owner can do for their dog (particularly in damp, humid environments) is to protect them from getting heartworms (Dirofilaria immitis).
What Do Heartworms Do to a Dog?
Mosquitos are the vectors for heartworm larvae. They can potentially carry the larvae as they land on different animals in search of blood for their next meal. Once a mosquito carrying heartworm larvae bites a dog, the larvae are able to enter the animal’s blood stream as the mosquito begins to feed. The larvae migrate to arteries in the lungs and parts of the dog’s heart, where they are able to feed freely and develop into adult heartworms.
Dogs infected with heartworms may harbor the parasite for many months or years before symptoms become debilitating. Infected animals may vomit blood, avoid exercise or habitually cough and hack during walks. When fully developed, heartworms can further penetrate the heart, resulting in pathologic cardiac function and eventual death from congestive heart failure. The problem of heartworms is as preventable as it is devastating.
How Should Pet Owners Prevent Heartworms?
Making sure that a pet does not get heartworms is simple. Merial makes a product called Heartgard, which is the longstanding preventative medication for heartworms. As a once a month treatment, the medication will kill any larvae that have been ingested in the last 30 days, in addition to protecting the dog from new larvae for the next 30 days. The first dose should be preceded by a heartworm test since Heartgard does not kill an adult heartworm infection.
Trifexis, a relatively new medication from Elanco & Eli Lilly, accomplishes the same goal as Heartgard while also protecting against fleas and internal parasites (hookworms, roundworms & whipworms). If ticks are a concern, the advisable option would be Heartgard paired with a flea and tick treatment, since Trifexis does not safeguard pets against ticks.
Premier Pet Relocation recognizes that dogs require numerous vaccinations and topical treatments prior to travel. We are aware that the accompanying veterinary documentation is equally as important, because attention to detail can make or break a lengthy, international pet relocation. Do not hesitate to call one of our relocation specialists if you have doubts about your own pet’s ability to travel: