Mosquito Season Alert: Dogs At Risk For Heartworm Disease

Dog owners are taking heartworm infection advice to heart.

(NAPSI)-With mosquito season here, many of America’s 63 million dogs will be exposed to deadly canine heartworm disease this year. While this lethal threat is preventable, studies released by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and the American Heartworm Society (AHS) estimate that tens of millions of dogs are not on a heartworm preventative, leaving them needlessly at risk for this potentially fatal disease.

Canine heartworm disease is a serious and life-threatening parasitic condition in which immature heartworms migrate to the heart and lungs, where they develop into adults and cause disease. These dangerous parasites are transmitted by mosquitoes, thereby putting many dogs at risk.

The American Animal Hospital Association’s Compliance in Companion Animal Practices’ study, released last summer, revealed that 66 percent of the nation’s dogs were not given heartworm preventatives according to veterinary or label recommendations, despite the fact that 81 percent of all dogs reside in states where heartworm disease is prevalent.

A recent national survey of veterinary clinics, released by the American Heartworm Society, reported nearly 250,000 positive heartworm tests, which was much higher than expected in light of advancements in prevention. In addition, an earlier-conducted Gallup survey revealed a significant gap in dog owner compliance. While most veterinarians recommend year-round protection, the survey found that dogs on preventatives receive them, on average, fewer than six months of the year.

“Although heartworm infection can cause serious, life-threatening complications in pets, it is 100 percent preventable,” said Dr. Donald Doiron, a veterinarian from Lafayette, Louisiana, who serves as president of the American Heartworm Society.

“For dogs and owners alike, there is a variety of options for preventing heartworm infection. They include an injectable medication administered by the veterinarian that provides protection for six months, as well as daily and monthly oral medicines and monthly topicals. All of these methods are extremely effective, and when administered properly and on schedule, heartworm infection can be completely prevented.”

Veterinarians have known for some time that compliance with dispensed at-home heartworm medications is far lower than it should be. Studies have shown that as many as 80 percent of dog owners who purchase monthly heartworm preventatives do not give them on time according to label directions, which seriously compromises the dog’s protection.

Dog owners and veterinarians have an option, virtually ensuring proper dosing and continuous protection, with ProHeart 6 (moxidectin). The latest advancement in heartworm prevention, ProHeart 6 is a sustained-release medication providing six continuous months of heartworm-disease protection, eliminating the problem of owner compliance for a full six months.

“ProHeart 6 is very effective and safe. More important, it eliminates the need for pet owners to remember the monthly heartworm medication,” said Dr. Byron Blagburn of Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “Missed doses of oral preventatives clearly compromise their effectiveness.”

With heartworm infection, dogs can suffer severe heart and pulmonary damage, and potential dysfunction of the kidneys and liver. Most common signs are a persistent cough, abnormal lung sounds and an intolerance to exercise. Treatment for heartworm infection is a long, risky and expensive procedure.

For more information on heartworm disease and ProHeart 6, visit www.proheart6.com.