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Heartworms and Intestinal Parasites

Even if your pet receives heartworm prevention/deworming monthly, it is still recommended that he/she be tested for heartworms and intestinal worms every year. Here are a few common misconceptions on this issue:

Misconception: My dog gets his heartworm prevention every month, he doesn’t need to be tested.

Fact: Though heartworm prevention is very effective, any product has the potential to fail. Heartworm prevention given as little as one day late can put a gap in your pet’s protection. Heartworm disease is very serious. Treatment for heartworms is extremely costly (up to $2,000!) and rough on your pet. Yearly testing allows us to catch any issues early so we can ensure you dog receives the best care possible. 

  • Note that if your prevention is purchased from a reputable source, the company that produces it will back their product. This means that if you can show that your pet has received consistent prevention the company will help to pay for the treatment cost if your pet were to become heartworm positive. This is only the case if you buy your product from a reputable source, and allow your pet to be tested on a yearly basis. 

Misconception: My dog’s heartworm prevention acts as an intestinal dewormer as well, I don’t want an intestinal parasite screen done.

Fact: Most heartworm preventions do take care of some intestinal parasites. However, most preventions do not protect against every type of intestinal worm that your pet may encounter. Also, any lapse in prevention opens a window for your pet to become infected. 

  • It is important to remember that some intestinal parasites are zoonotic, which mean that humans can be infected. Always practice good hygiene by washing your hands after playing with your dog, and avoid walking barefoot outside.  

Misconception: My dog lives inside, I don’t need to test.

Fact: Any time your door is opened, mosquitoes can find their way into your home. Intestinal worm eggs can be carried inside on our shoes, on other pets, and some insects can transport the eggs into your home. 

Misconception: I will know if my dog was infected.  We will notice the symptoms.

Fact: In most cases, your pet will not show symptoms of a heartworm or intestinal worm infection until it has progressed to a more serious stage. Depending on the life state of the parasite you may never see adult worms in your dog’s stool, and heartworms reside in the heart and lungs not visible to the human eye. The goal of yearly testing is to catch these infections before they have a chance to cause major issues, or symptoms in your dog. 

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