Why urban dogs need heartworm prevention

As part of an owner Q&A column, veterinarian Ernie Ward explains that the rare and mild adverse reactions to heartworm prevention treatment are no reason to avoid the potentially life-saving preventive medication. Responding to a question about whether an urban dog needs the prophylactic care, Dr. Ward says any dog that might be exposed to mosquitoes is at risk. “The treatment [for heartworm] is no fun and has the potential for side effects,” Dr. Ward says. “And treatment is expensive. Prevention is best.” The Hartford Courant (Conn.)/Tribune Content Agency (9/7)

Q: We’re reluctant to give our 3-year-old Shih Tzu heartworm medication because of all those side effects. We’re thinking of stopping it. We live in the city and don’t visit the park; our dog spends a lot of time in our yard. What do you think?

A: “Absolutely, this is wrong,” saysDr. Ernie Ward, of Calabash, N.C. “The benefits of heartworm preventatives far outweigh any potential chance of an adverse affect. And if there are side effects, which again are rare, most often it’s diarrhea or vomiting, which go away. If a pet gets heartworm, the disease doesn’t just go away. The treatment [for heartworm] is no fun and has the potential for side effects. And treatment is expensive. Prevention is best.”

Mosquitoes transmit heartworm, so where there are mosquitoes, there’s likely heartworm. Whether you live in the big city or not doesn’t matter; mosquitoes like urban life, too. And with your dog spending lots of time in the yard, it seems your dog is even more susceptible to mosquitoes.

Leave a Reply