Pet Vet, Inc. & Animal Birth Control, Inc.
Tracy Land, DVM
Monica Voci, DVM
Cynthia Nicholson, DVM
Heartworms are more common than ever before. They are spread by mosquitoes. The worm lives in the heart, blood vessels, & lungs of infected dogs. Microscopic baby heartworms circulate in the blood.
The worms damage the heart, blood vessels and lungs. Not giving monthly heartworm pills is the greatest risk factor. All dogs are at risk, even if they live indoors. Indoor dogs are frequently infected, and because they tend to be smaller, have a much higher complication rate than larger dogs. In Georgia, about one in three dogs not on preventative will become infected with heartworms sooner or later.
Transmission occurs when a mosquito bites an infected dog. Dogs have no symptoms in the early stages (months). But eventually, it is fatal if left untreated. Because heartworm disease is easy to prevent, it is uncommon in pets that receive proper medical care.
Symptoms – don’t develop until the heart & lungs are already severely damaged.
• Coughing up blood or nosebleeds
• Heavy breathing, shortness of breath, panting even when cool and resting
• Unwillingness to exercise
• Heart Failure, leading to fluid build-up in the lungs and belly
• Heart Attack or Stroke
Heartworm tests are run in the clinic, with only a few drops of blood, and take only eight minutes. They are similar to home pregnancy tests, & are very sensitive and accurate.
Prevention of heartworm disease is easy. All dogs in Georgia should be on monthly heartworm prevention, year round, for life.
Advantage Multi, Trifexis, or special medications we have made at a compounding pharmacy are the drugs of choice in our area. While many reliable products are available to prevent heartworms, the ones we recommend also prevent whipworms, which are a major problem in our area, and can be life threatening. Advantage Multi & Trifexus control fleas as well.
Year round prevention is absolutely necessary in Georgia. In colder climates, prevention is sometimes skipped during the coldest months of winter, since mosquitoes cannot survive. This does not apply in Georgia. Infected mosquitoes have been found during every month, even January. Sadly, it is quite common for us to diagnose heartworm disease in a dog whose owner skipped preventative during winter. Don’t! The cost of those pills is minimal compared to the cost of treating heartworm disease.
*Currently, Wal Mart has a generic product available for only $1 a dose. It does not prevent whipworms or fleas, but given the risks of disease, it is far better than nothing. This cheap generic makes if financially possible for all owners to do at least this much.
Due to regulatory issues, we no longer offer treatment for heartworm disease.
(The State Board of Veterinary Medicine & Standards of Care now requires x-rays. We do not have x-ray equipment.)
Most hospitals offering treatment follow the recommendations of the American Heartworm Society. However, some hospitals offer variations of these recommendations. Treatment options and pricing structures vary greatly. When researching treatment options for your pet, please make sure you are comparing apples to apples.
Realize up front that treatment is expensive, complicated, time consuming, and risky.
For more information, please visit www.heartwormsociety.org. This website provides the newest research and official recommendations.
We have personally researched hospitals in our area that follow the recommended treatment. The most reasonable pricing we were able to find is at:
• Well Pets Humane in Chamblee @ 770-455-1011, with prices currently ranging from $350.00 to $750.00. Please contact them for exact prices for your pet.