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Discussion Starter #1
Hi...I've been around dogs my entire life -- my Mom & Dad always had dogs -- but they never had them on any kind of Preventive meds -- no Heartworm or Flea Meds ---

Are they really needed? What is anyones experience with these meds? I'm a little confused -- because all of my families dogs were always healthy.

Thanks - :)
 

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It depends on where you live. Some places have higher incidences of heartworm than others. For my dogs (and my location), I choose to use preventative. The treatment is nasty, and dying of heartworms is no picnic either. Someone posted a link the other day showing a map of heartworm infections and when/how you should use prevention, based on the infection rate and local temperatures/mosquito population. I can't find it right now, but perhaps that person will post it again for you :D .

Flea meds depend on your personal experience with fleas. If your dogs never get fleas, you wouldn't need them.
 

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I agree with willowy, it really depends on where you are. In Florida I don't feel it is an option. Our climate is mild year around so we have lots of fleas and mosquitos, so people are crazy for not using a preventive in our area. Where you are things may be different, but if you have many mosquitos I wouldn't take the chance of not using a heartworm preventive.
 

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I found this article for you on a website called cpvh.com, there is more info on there if you want to check it out.

How common is this disease?
Heartworm disease occurs in 66-100% of dogs exposed to mosquitos and who live in endemic regions. There are many different subspecies of mosquitos, each with their own individual habitat (environmental) preference. Some mosquitos live almost completely indoors. In Texas, ALL dogs (even those that spend all their time indoors) need to be on heartworm preventive.


As you can see it occurs often and affects dogs where ever there are mosquitos. Times have changed and people have become more knowledgeable on how to keep pets healthy and safe.
We live in chilly Minnesota so my dogs only need heartworm prevention from May-Nov every single year. The cost of prevention is much lower than having to deal with getting rid of heartworms. The larger the dog, the more it suffers through treatment. So yes, heartworm is a MUST. Use a good brand like Heartgard Plus.

As for flea and tick I don't like to give it unless I am boarding my dogs. If you live in an area with high exposure, you could consider doing it all the time, but it is not necessary.

Hope this helps ...
 

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Having done some volunteer work for a rescue, I have very strong feelings about this. Heartworm has been found in all 50 states. If a dog contracts it, it can threaten a dog's life if not treated. In order to treat it, depending on how advanced it is, they actually have to poison the dog with arsenic. In the worst cases, the dog has to be immobilized during the treatment so that they don't die. The treatment is long and expensive.

On the other hand, heartworm preventative is VERY inexpensive. It comes in a tasty pill or chew. So once a month, you just give your dog a "treat" and you don't have to worry about it.

Please do yourself and your dog a HUGE favor and put them on preventative. There's really no reason not to.

More info: http://www.drsfostersmith.com/pic/article.cfm?dept_id=0&siteid=12&acatid=497&aid=600
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks everyone --

That map was SO HELPFUL....thanks so much!:)
 

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That's the one! Thanks Pai!
 

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Hmmm... So i can give her Interceptor every 45 days instead of 30? never knew that.
Yeah, basically, the Heartworm Society admits right out that 'every thirty days' and 'every month year round' (in regions where it's not necessary) are only suggestions based on the assumption that the average pet owner is too 'forgetful' to properly keep any other dosing schedule. Which I think is kind of condescending.

That's why those temperature maps and summary from that Tibetan Mastiff site are so useful... they're copied from this vet-published study. It costs 15$ to read it online, but it's very informative.
 

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...based on the assumption that the average pet owner is too 'forgetful' to properly keep any other dosing schedule. Which I think is kind of condescending.
I think it's an a good assessment of risks vs costs for a broad population. Even knowing the 45 day rule, I plan to continue using the preventatives every month year-round. I track medication on a whiteboard checklist on my refrigerator, so I think I could easily accommodate a seasonal 45-day schedule, but I'd rather be reinforced by habit & routine.
 

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Not for those of us that live in regions where the temperature isn't high enough for long enough for HW to even be contagious to dogs for most of the year. It's only an endemic year round problem for a small portion of the U.S. Luckily for me, I don't live in those areas. Up here we only have about 4 months out of the year with the proper temperature for it.
 

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The only drawback I can find about not doing year round prevention is that if for some reaosn your dog does contract heartworms and you start the medicine again, you can severely injure or kill your dog.

We don't give the dog's heartworm meds once the misquitoes die off in the late fall and winter, but I'm almost thinking it would be cheaper to just keep them on it year round and not have to get a heart worm test for each of them every spring.
 

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if for some reaosn your dog does contract heartworms and you start the medicine again, you can severely injure or kill your dog.
Thats a myth. I know many people that when the discover their dog has heartworms they will start giving the prevenative. This is a recent way to treat heartworms rather than the arsenic posion that can definately kill a dog.

We don't give the dog's heartworm meds once the misquitoes die off in the late fall and winter, but I'm almost thinking it would be cheaper to just keep them on it year round and not have to get a heart worm test for each of them every spring.
I don't worry about what is cheaper. I worry about what is best for my dogs. Giving them year round heartworms "prevenative" is stressful for them because that stuff is poison. The less poison I can give them as still protect them is the best way. I treat my dogs from about mid-june to mid-november every 42 days (6 weeks). They get about 4 or 5 treatments a year. Much better than 12.

If I discovered one of my dogs had heartworm, I would start year around prevenatives for 3 years and no other treatment.
 

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That map is cool, but I do not know if I would be comfortable following it. My dogs get Sentinel all year. That map says I could start in June and end in November. We have crazy weather here and sometimes it gets plenty warm enough for mosquitoes in April or May. Overall I think it is a good guideline, but I would probably only be comfortable starting in March or early April.

Blackrose, just so you know, if you do not keep your dogs on preventative year round or do not test them every year, the company (this goes for the company that makes Sentinel and Interceptor, I do not know about others) will not stand by its product and pay for treatment. If your dog is on it all year and is tested every year, the company will pay for treatment should your dog ever get heartworms. Just so you know.
 

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That map is cool, but I do not know if I would be comfortable following it. My dogs get Sentinel all year. That map says I could start in June and end in November. We have crazy weather here and sometimes it gets plenty warm enough for mosquitoes in April or May.
The thing people are missing -- mosquitoes alone do not constitute a HW infection risk. The TEMPERATURE has to maintain at 80F or higher for at least two weeks (or six weeks at temperatures around 57F) DAY AND NIGHT before the larva inside the mosquito incubate to the stage where they can infect dogs. If, at any time during that 2 to 6 week period, the temperature dips below 57F even once, THE LARVA DIE inside the bug. Infection becomes impossible.

For places where the temperatures are closer to 60F for most of the year, take into account that the average lifespan of a wild mosquito is generally one month, and it reduces the chances of infection in that region even more.

The maps are based on the average temperature levels for each region over 30 years, not their mosquito seasons. Plus, they are conservative estimates, which means they actually leave more of a safety buffer around when to dose than is actually reflected by the data.
Check the Heartworm map from here for Indiana. Overall your state has a very low infection rate.The numbers collected in that map reflect the total HW positives recorded over 7 years of vet clinic surveys. The surveyer is Idexx, one of the leading makers of HW testing kits (so it is not in their interest to record low numbers).

The only drawback I can find about not doing year round prevention is that if for some reaosn your dog does contract heartworms and you start the medicine again, you can severely injure or kill your dog.
Heartworm preventative dosages only kill HW larva in the bloodstream, it doesn't affect adult worms (unless you do it monthly for a year or more, which is actually one accepted strategy for treating mild infections. It is actually normal procedure for a HW-positive dog to get a dose of regular ivermectin-based medication before starting the full treatment:
VeterinaryPartner.com: said:
The first step in treatment is clearing the migrating immature worms. If we were to jump directly to killing the adult worms first, the adult worms we remove could be readily replaced shortly afterwards by those that were in the process of migration at the time of treatment. By addressing the migrating immature worms first, we minimize the number of adult worms we must kill in the second step. Fewer adult worms dying at once means less risk.

Happily, the microfilariae, L3, and L4 larvae can all be killed by monthly ivermectin-based heartworm preventive products (i.e. Heartgard®, Tri-Heart® etc.). The milbemycin based products (Sentinel® and Interceptor®) will also do the same job but will kill the microfilariae much faster, which can create circulatory shock if there are large numbers of microfilariae dying all at one time. The newer products using selamectin and moxidectin do not clear microfilaria well enough to be used in the treatment of an active infection, so right now the ivermectin based products seem to be the best for this use. The American Heartworm Society recommends 1 to 3 months of a preventive prior to treating the adult worms. How long you choose to wait depends on how urgent the dog’s need is to have the adult worms removed. After all, it is the adult worms that cause heartworm disease, not the immature worms addressed by the preventives.
Where you're correct about that, is that if you use a milbemycin-based medication (Interceptor or Sentinel) on a heavily infected dog, it can kill too many larva too quickly and cause toxic shock. But that it only in regards to that one specific chemical.
If killing heartworm larva in the blood was potentially fatal to a dog, you'd be risking it's life every time you gave them a HW pill. HW pills do not prevent infection, they only kill whatever larva are already present in the blood BEFORE they can become adult worms in the heart (as the above article explains).

The arsenic treatment is actually obsolete -- there are safer medications now. Also, the strong possibility that using Doxycycline on the dog before regular HW treatment can greatly reduce the risk of fatal complications from the dead worms, means that it is actually safer to treat a HW-positive dog now than it was in the past. Of course, that's if your vet is keeping up on the research and not still using the riskier old-school treatments.
 

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Does anyone have a source for the 45 days? I looked at the heartguard website, and found nothing, and I saw the american heartworm society, but I didn't see it on there either.
 
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