Preventive Healthcare Can Be Confusing

Feeling confused about preventive healthcare for your pet? Uncertain whether your pet’s prevention medication protects against heartworm as well as fleas and ticks? You are not alone. According to a recent report, 1 in 4 dog owners believed they were giving heartworm preventive when in fact, the medication only offered protection against fleas and ticks.

The goal of this study was to determine why preventive products are not used consistently. Only 25% of dogs receive heartworm preventives regularly according to the results of this research. Another surprising finding:  27% of dog owners believed the preventive they were giving their pets protected them from heartworm, when in fact the medication only included flea and tick protection. Clearly, confusion about prevention products exists.

Heartworm continues to be diagnosed in all 50 states and is a serious, potentially fatal disease. A study by the American Heartworm Society found more than one million dogs were diagnosed with heartworm in 2016. This study also discovered the average number of dogs diagnosed with heartworm per veterinary clinic increased over 22% in 2016 from 2013.

Cats are also at risk for heartworm and should receive heartworm prevention. The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association completed a study in 2017 which found hundreds of thousands of cats are likely infected with heartworms. Presently, there is no heartworm treatment available for cats. The only approved heartworm treatment currently available is for dogs. This means prevention is the only treatment available for cats.  Therefore, giving your cat heartworm prevention on a consistent basis according to the recommended schedule is crucial.

It is vitally important to your pet’s health to administer heartworm and flea and tick prevention regularly as recommended by the manufacturer. Discuss prevention with your veterinarian and staff. Do not hesitate to ask any questions you may have about a certain product. If you need clarification on the correct schedule for administering the prevention medication, please ask.

Together, you and your veterinarian can determine which product best fits your pet’s needs. In addition, your veterinarian will provide information regarding a schedule for administering the medication. If you have any confusion concerning whether the medication you are giving your pet includes protection from heartworm, in addition to fleas and ticks, please talk to your veterinarian. Communication and understanding will ensure your pet is properly protected against disease.

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