Heartworm Prevention: Medication Shortages, Preventive’s Effect

by Mary Haight on June 2, 2012

English: A female mosquito of the Culicidae fa...

English: A female mosquito of the Culicidae family (Culiseta longiareolata). Size: about 10mm length Location: Lisbon region, Portugal Türkçe: Culiseta longiareolata türü dişi bir sivrisinek. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Heartworm prevention is vital to the health and welfare of your dog – just ask Dr. Sheldon Rubin. A renowned Chicago veterinarian, Dr Rubin has held many positions on various  boards, not the least of which is past president of the American Heartworm Society.

There’s been a lot of news and talk regarding the possible loss of efficacy in heartworm preventives in recent months. That is compounded by last year’s sudden loss of the medication used to treat the disease. Merial, the lone producer of immiticide, had a technical problem at their plant causing a supply shortage and it would take months to create new supplies. When supplies ran out, a European alternative was imported in October 2011, but strictly on a case-by-case basis. Europe cannot supply America’s need. It’s been nearly eight months.

What a great time to talk to Dr. Rubin who explains current concerns and what’s happening with research regarding possible genetic changes in heartworm, along with his message from the American Heartworm Society: Protect your dog from heartworm with preventives.

The American Heartworm Society publishes guidelines for the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of heartworm. Despite preventatives, heartworm is increasing. According to studies, less than 50% of owners have their dogs on heartworm. New guidelines emphasize annual testing for heartworm disease. Because as the weather pattern changes, Dr Rubin says we can’t ever determine when mosquitoes start and finish each year, leaving 12-month prevention to be the only way to clean up this disease. Heartworm preventives also work to get rid of round worms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms, even fleas.

Heartworm is not an easy fix. Once contracted, it requires months of therapy and restriction of exercise, as Dr Rubin vividly explains, the worms die in the blood vessels and break into pieces…exercise causes the heart to pump blood faster, allowing these pieces to block vessels and cause death. Your dog becomes like a ticking time bomb.

Dr. Rubin speaks with Dr. Lorie Huston regarding the recent reports of animals getting heartworm while being on heartworm preventives. You can listen to this important interview at Animal Cafe.

Have you had your dog tested yet?

 

 

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8 comments
Leigh
Leigh

It's always a good idea to prevent heartworm. From what I've read it is quite a painful and laborious condition for the poor dog to put up with. It was bad enough I had to watch my little friend suffer from severe arthritis as she got older, but that was something I was powerless against.

Helena
Helena

I don't have any dogs right now, but when the time comes we will definitely look at 12 month prevention. There's way too many mosquitoes and other bugs around here to leave them unprotected. Thanks for an informative article.

Anita Fiander
Anita Fiander

We vaccinate here too! Great article and I will share your wisdom :)

@Mac20Q
@Mac20Q

Always good to look after your doggy friend. My dog has just come to tell me that I have to take her out for a walk.

milieunet
milieunet

Had dogs before and eveybody should vaccinate their dogs preventative to heartworm

Kimberly
Kimberly

Such amazing information. I have an appointment with our vet to discuss heart work coming up. Our older dogs are vaccinated and our puppy has a topical treatment. Thanks for this great information.

jetsagenda
jetsagenda

My two are on a 12month heartworm preventative vaccine so that I don't forget. I'd like to think they are at a lower risk since they spend most of their time inside the house - ie less exposure to mosquitos.... but it's a scary and valid point about climate change and it's influence on mosquito borne diseases - there are also quite a lot of human diseases carried by these suckers.

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