MIAMI, April 11, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- One of the responsibilities of being a pet owner is to guard our cats and dogs against heartworm disease. While many people treat their pets with monthly preventative prescriptions, few understand how preventative heartworm treatments actually work. In honor of National Heartworm Awareness Month, petMD.com provides the following five tips and safety measures for keeping pets heartworm free.
Consult Your Vet - Talk to your veterinarian about heartworm preventative medication and which form is right for your pet (i.e. oral, topical, injection). Understanding the benefits and risks associated with each of them is important for the safety of your pet. Your vet will also recommend a proper dosage amount depending on your pet's age, weight, and health status, which can vary year to year. Giving an incorrect dosage amount can affect how well your pet is protected from heartworm disease, as well as interfere with your pet's health.
Administer as Prescribed - It is important to administer heartworm prevention medication as prescribed, as there is a limited amount of time to clean your pet's blood stream before larval worms fully develop. Most oral and topical preventatives are given monthly, while injections are typically administered bi-annually.
Use Heartworm Preventatives All Year - Although veterinarians have suggested in the past to only administer the preventative medicine to your cat or dog in the warmer months when mosquitoes are present, the American Heartworm Society now recommends that preventative care be administered all year long.
Store Wisely - While giving your pets preventative care is an excellent way to guard them from heartworm disease, proper handling and use will protect both you and your pet from any adverse reactions. It's recommended that you store the preventative medicine out of reach of children and animals, as to avoid any unnecessary exposure or ingestion which could potentially be harmful.
Schedule Annual Vet Visits - Schedule annual vet visits and be sure to have your pet's heartworm preventative prescription renewed. Your vet will also screen your pet for heartworm disease, as oftentimes cats and dogs may spit out or vomit up the preventative medication without the owner's knowledge.
Preventative heartworm medication works to clear the blood stream of any larval worms while they are still in the early stages of development and have not yet attached themselves to the cat or dog's body tissue. If you're concerned your pet has already developed heartworm disease, consult your vet immediately. Giving your pet preventative heartworm medicine will not stop the infection after it has developed.
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