One mistake many pet parents have been guilty of time and time again is giving their pet monthly doses of preventative medication. Although preventative medication is always better and less expensive, you want to make sure that you are actually preventing something. For example, heartworm preventatives are often administered to our pets each month, but, heartworm preventatives may not be preventing heartworm.

Heartworm preventatives
Heartworm is a parasite transmitted by mosquitoes.

What is heartworm

Heartworm is a parasite that is transmitted from pet to pet – mostly from dog to dog – via mosquitos. Once infected, parasitic roundworm will inhabit the lung arteries and the heart. If left untreated, the infection could cause damage to the lung and surrounding tissues, and eventually death due to congestive heart failure. Although the results of heartworm are serious, the risk of your pet contracting heartworm may not be, rendering monthly heartworm preventatives unnecessary.

The risk of heartworm

When the American Heartworm Society announces that heartworm has been found in all 50 states, it’s easy to conclude that heartworm preventatives would be a good idea for all pets. However, not every pet is at risk of exposure. Before you give your pet a monthly heartworm preventative, make sure that the risk is prevalent. For most states, the risk may only be serious for a few months out of the year. Because heartworm is transmitted by mosquitoes, the environmental factors have to be right for the mosquito to thrive. States with high humidity and heat pose a higher risk for heartworm than states with dry, cool climates.

When to give heartworm prevention

The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) give you access to detailed maps that will outline the heartworm risk for your pet. This will give you an idea of when to start and stop giving preventative heartworm medication. You also need to test your pet regularly, because if they’ve already contracted the disease, preventative medications won’t help. If the risk is low, giving your pet a chemical pesticide each month may lead to other health problems, not prevention.

Natural heartworm preventatives

When to give heartworm preventatives
If you live in a low-risk area for heartworm, a species appropriate natural diet can help boost your pet’s immune system and provide adequate protection for most of the year.

If you live in a low-risk area, but still want to protect your pet, visit a holistic pet shop or veterinarian to talk about natural heartworm preventatives. You can also boost your pet’s immune system with a species appropriate diet consisting of natural raw ingredients. Supplement their natural diet with anti-parasite foods to give your pets further protection against heartworm.

Preventative “cocktails”

Just like with our vaccination guidelines, you want to understand your pet’s health and their risk of exposure before giving monthly wormers and vaccinations. If your pet is at risk, make sure that you give the lowest dosage possible for the least side-effects. Stay away from “cocktails” that will treat more than one parasite or disease at a time. Only treat your pet for the things that pose a risk, minimizing your pet’s exposure to chemicals and pharmaceuticals.

Holistic Hound specializes in full-spectrum, functional mushroom, and all-natural products to improve your pet’s health, wellness, and quality of life.