Heartworms are life-threatening parasites that are expensive and painful to treat. Fortunately, these dangerous parasites will leave your dog alone if you provide your dog with a regular heartworm preventative treatment.
Types of Medication
The frequency with which you must give your dog heartworm medication varies according to the specific medication. Some veterinarians offer heartworm preventative injections that may last several months. More commonly, however, heartworm medication must be taken monthly. While some companies sell daily heartworm treatment pills, these are less effective because missing even one dose can increase your dog's likelihood of developing the disease. Moreover, these medications are not typically prescribed by a veterinarian.
Regardless of the choice you make for medication, give it to your pet at regular intervals. For example, don't give your pet a monthly medication after 30 days one month, 28 the next and 35 the following month. This can increase your dog's likelihood of getting the disease.
Puppies should begin getting heartworm treatment at around the time they are weaned, usually around 6 to 8 weeks. Consult your vet before starting a puppy on heartworm preventative treatment. Your veterinarian will need to test your puppy or dog for heartworms before beginning treatment. If this is your dog's first time taking heartworm medication, tell your vet about any allergies or illnesses your dog has, as these may affect the medication your vet prescribes.
How to Give
Many heartworm medications are flavored and smell like treats. If you have trouble getting your dog to take her medication, however, try wrapping it in dog treats. Peanut butter works particularly well because the pill sticks to the peanut butter, making it difficult for your dog to spit the pill out. If your vet is administering an injection, give your dog treats during or immediately before and after the injection. This helps your dog develop a positive association with getting shots, which will encourage cooperation.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Heartworm Prevention in Your Pet
- Merck Veterinary Manual: Heartworm Disease
- Dr. Pitcairn's New Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats; Richard H. Pitcairn, et al.
Brenna Davis is a professional writer who covers parenting, pets, health and legal topics. Her articles have appeared in a variety of newspapers and magazines as well as on websites. She is a court-appointed special advocate and is certified in crisis counseling and child and infant nutrition. She holds degrees in developmental psychology and philosophy from Georgia State University.