Recommendations for heartworm are specific to your pet family
When and how often pets should be tested for heartworm infection is a matter of debate. In making a decision on when to test, we consider how common heartworm disease is where your pets live, and what heartworm preventive pets currently receive. We also consider your pets’ environment and the mosquito season in Chicago.
Heartworm in Dogs
The American Heartworm Society (AHS) suggests all adult dogs be tested at the time a heartworm preventive is started. Then, your dogs should be tested annually for heartworm infection. In the past, if a dog had been on preventive methods routinely, it was not considered necessary to test every year. Instead, AHS called for testing only every two to three years. However, when reports showed an increase in animals contracting the disease, AHS made a change. Now, they recommend a more aggressive testing routine.
We also find it can be difficult to document when an animal hasn’t been checked in three years. Therefore, annual testing ensures that infection is caught in plenty of time to manage it effectively.
Heartworm in Cats
Cats should be tested before they are started on a heartworm preventive. Experts do not agree on how often a cat that is taking a preventive should be tested, however, it would be based on risk of exposure and consistency of administering preventives. Our experienced veterinary team can weigh all the considerations for your particular pet, and help you decide what is best for your pet.
Control of Intestinal Parasites
As with vaccinations and heartworm testing, you’ll find different opinions on when or if fecal examinations should be performed. You’ll hear a wide variety of advice on when or if dogs and cats should receive regular “dewormings.” Our recommendations on testing and worming will be on circumstances such as below.
- The age of your pet
- Likelihood your pets have been exposed to feces from other animals
- Evidence your pet suffers from fleas
- Whether your breed is a hunting breed
- The kind of preventive, if any your pet currently receives
- A history of infection
- Your breeding plans
- How your children interact with your pets
Regular deworming is recommended by the American Association of Veterinary Parasitologists (AAVP), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC).
Considerations for Kittens
Because prenatal infections do not occur in kittens, initiate treatment at 3 weeks; repeat at 5, 7, and 9 weeks of age, and then put on a monthly heartworm preventive that also controls intestinal parasites. Using a year-round heartworm preventive/intestinal parasite combination product decreases the risk of parasites.
Considerations for Puppies
Initiate treatment at 2 weeks; repeat at 4, 6, and 8 weeks of age, and then put on a monthly heartworm preventive that also controls intestinal parasites. Using a year-round heartworm preventive/intestinal parasite combination product decreases the risk of parasites. If not using such a product, worm at 2, 4, 6, and 8 weeks of age and then monthly until 6 months of age.
Nursing Dams – We treat at the same time as kittens and puppies
Managing Adult Cats and Dogs
If on a year-round heartworm preventive/intestinal parasite combination product, have a fecal test performed 1-2 times per year and treat appropriately. If not on a year-round heartworm preventive/intestinal parasite combination product, have a fecal test performed 2-4 times per year and treat appropriately. Also monitor and eliminate parasites in pet’s environment.
Newly Acquired Animals
Worm immediately, after 2 weeks, and then follow above recommendations. We recommend new pet owners obtain the “deworming” history of their pets and contact us to determine if additional treatment is needed.
Roundworms and hookworms of your pet can cause serious disease in people, especially children who may not have good hygiene habits. Treating them for worms is important for your pet’s health as well as your family’s. Visit us to get detailed directions on how to manage your special pets.
We strongly advise owners to make sure your pets have an annual fecal examination performed. Fecal examinations are advantageous. By having a fecal examination performed, you will know if your pet has intestinal parasites. If so, you may need to change their environment and access to other animals. You will also know what type of parasites are present. In that case, the proper medication will be selected to kill all of them at once.
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