Heartworm infection can cause serious and life-threatening illness for your dog, and once infected, treatment is not always successful. Therefore we recommend that all dogs should receive heartworm preventatives from 12 weeks of age to protect against these parasites.
If your dog is older than six months of age and has not already started on heartworm prevention, a blood test will be necessary before starting these preventatives - this blood test can be completed in a standard consultation. The test involves clipping a small amount of hair from your dog's foreleg, sterilising the skin, and taking a very small amount of blood from the cephalic vein. This blood is then combined in a test kit with a reagent solution, and the result of the test is known in about 5 minutes.
There are a number of options available for heartworm prevention, ranging from daily tablets, to monthly tablets, chewables and 'spot-on' preparations, to an annual heartworm prevention injection.
Most people prefer the convenience of the monthly preparations or annual injection. These also have the advantage of being slightly more flexible - there is no concern if you are a couple of days late in dosing your pet with monthly medication or having the yearly injection administered, whereas a missed daily tablet may lead to heartworm infection.
An important point to note: "Allwormer" medications, while successfully controlling gastrointestinal worms, does not offer any protection against heartworm.
At our clinic, we highly recommend the yearly heartworm injection. It is safe, convenient and cost effective.