HEARTWORM DISEASE IN LAS VEGAS? By Dr. Leslie Stewart, DVM – Town Center Animal Hospital
HEARTWORM DISEASE IN A NUTSHELL: Heartworm disease is transmitted via an infected mosquito bite and is a serious and potentially deadly condition that can be prevented. Symptoms of active heartworm disease include coughing, lethargy, exercise intolerance, weight loss, anorexia, respiratory distress or collapse.
So what are the chances of my dog getting heartworm disease here in Las Vegas? IT HAPPENS! Heartworm disease is becoming more prevalent in the Las Vegas area with an increasing average of 6-25 cases/clinic/year through 2010-2013 (American heartworm society). These are just reported cases...many more go unreported or untested or treated.
And in addition....most heartworm preventatives are include prevention of ROUNDWORM, HOOKWORM, WHIPWORM infection, which can simply be picked on the bottom of your dogs feet and can lead to diarrhea and/or vomiting. I consider most heartworm preventatives “general year round parasite preventatives”. A yearly heartworm test is recommended and often required before starting preventative medication in dogs older than 6 months. This yearly test is on average $40-60. And the yearly test should be maintained for heartworm free assurance. Average yearly cost of heartworm medication can range from $60-$100 depending on the size of the dog and type of product.
IS HEARTWORM PREVENTATIVE SAFE?
For most breeds of dogs, yes. Collie and collie mixes can have a genetic sensitivity to an ingredient commonly used in some heartworm preventatives and selection of products should be approached carefully with your veterinarian. Don’t let this be your scenario. There is a preventative measure that can be taken. Mosquitos are very adaptable even in urban areas. They may congregate near stagnant pool or pond water and even thrive for periods of time indoors. You might ask, my dog never leaves my backyard, is he at risk? A dog’s risks is increased if your pet travels outside of Las Vegas, is active and social outdoors, even if it’s going for walks around the block or to parks, but remember, even for those indoor house dogs, there is still a risk... especially if you have pools, ponds, or foliage. Whatever scenario you most fit, being informed of the risks, however small or large, is important in making the best decision for you and your pet.
THERE IS A PREVENTATIVE.
Consider protecting your four legged family members with a monthly chewable treat or simple topical medication that will prevent them from the potentially deadly heartworm disease. 28
Las Vegas Pet Scene Magazine • March/April 2017
As with any medication, tolerance is very specific to each patient. Please be advised, read your product inserts for list of potential side effects and monitor your pets closely when starting any new medication. There is no all-natural preventative for heartworm disease outside of doing your best to assure your dog’s exposure is limited and keeping them healthy and happy with a healthy diet, exercise and regular check ups at the vet. If you decide not to keep your dogs on a preventative, consider testing them every 6 months to 1 year.
CAN MY CAT GET HEARTWORM DISEASE?
The answer is yes, but they tend to be more resistant to disease than dogs. Although there are acceptable preventatives for cats, there is no reliable or approved treatment for heartworm disease in cats as there is in dogs. Outdoor cats should be considered for monthly preventative.