Dr. Laurel Davis, Asheville’s integrative vet, offers “Stories from a Holistic Veterinarian”, the blog of a holistic vet and “animal interpreter.” With a clinic in downtown Asheville, NC. Dr. Laurel also offers animal health, lifestyle and vaccination advice for cats, dogs and their human friends across the country.
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Make It a Healthy Spring, pt 3: Heartworms
In my last blog post, about fleas and flea allergies, I talked about ways to protect your cats and dogs from the increasing flea population (read part two in the Make It a Healthy Spring series here). One more very important item to be thinking about relating to spring, warmth, and biting insects is mosquitoes and their parasites known as heartworms. In this final post of the series, I will address some questions that my clients frequently ask. To ensure that you don’t miss a trick (or a post), stay in touch by signing up for our our e-newsletter in the right sidebar.
Which heartworm preventative should I use?
I recommend two different types of heartworm preventative in my Asheville, NC clinic. Heartgard is my number one choice. It has been shown to cause far fewer side effects than any other heartworm preventative. We carry a second preventative, Sentinel, which protects against one more intestinal parasite than Heartgard (whipworms) and has a flea contraceptive as part of its chemical make-up. This is a more heavy duty preventative; however, I feel that some situations warrant its use.
I don’t like exposing my dog to chemicals. How often do I have to give him/her heartworm preventative?
If you live in temperate areas like Asheville, you can take your animals off of their heartworm preventative during the very cold months of January, February, and March, resuming preventative on April 1st. This gives your furry friend a respite from at least one chemical for three months. If you travel south into warmer areas during the cold months, I recommend giving your animal friend a heartworm preventative when you return as every heartworm preventative only works within a 48 hour period after giving it to kill heartworm larvae in your animal’s body. Whichever preventative is right for you, I suggest that during the warmer months when you need to use it, you can give the heartworm prevention every 45 days rather than the more common dosing schedule of 30 days. This reduces your animal’s exposure to the chemical treatment even further.
Does my dog need to be tested for heartworms?
If your 4-legged companion has been off of a heartworm preventative during consistently warm weather, it is important to test them for heartworms before starting or resuming a heartworm prevention plan. If they have heartworms and you start them on a heartworm preventative, you run the risk of causing anaphylactic shock due to the rapid killing of heartworm babies (called microfilaria). Nobody wants that kind of negative outcome!
I hope you enjoyed my Make it a Healthy Spring series, and if you’re just checking in, you can find parts one and two in the links below. Thanks for reading, and until next time…
Dr. Laurel Davis is Asheville’s integrative vet, offering phone and Skype consultations for animal lovers everywhere. Call 828-254-2221 or order an Ask Dr. Laurel™ phone or Skype session or bring your dog or cat to her downtown Asheville, NC clinic. Read more patient stories.
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