It’s Heartworm Season!


For those of your who have forgotten in the midst of the COVID – 19 pandemic, it’s about to be one of our favorite times of year in the midwest: mosquito season. In fact, with the significant warm up we’ve had through the month of March and nearly all the ice off the lakes, it’s likely to be an early mosquito season at that.

Heartworms are what we worry about most with our pets when the mosquitoes arrive. For those that don’t know or don’t remember, mosquitoes carry the larval form of heartworms. When they take a blood meal off of a dog, they transfer the larvae, or immature forms of the worm, to and from that dog.

So for starters, that’s how our dog’s get heartworms. From a mosquito. But that’s also how they spread it. Infected dogs with immature heartworms in their blood pass them to mosquitoes that feed off them. They develop in the mosquito and pass it on to the next dog.

As veterinarians, we consider this to be one of the most easily prevented diseases that our dogs get. There are a number of methods to kill the immature heartworms when they first enter the dog’s system. The most popular forms are chewable treats that are given monthly.

We currently carry Sentinel Spectrum and Heartgard (or a similar product called Iverheart). Both these kill those immature forms of heartworm in addition to treating other intestinal parasites. Sentinel Spectrum also has a flea preventative product in it.

This time of year is the traditional time of year to get your dog starter on heartworm preventative. If your dog has been off of the preventative for any length of time, we need to do a test to check for the presence of heartworms in their system first. Giving heartworm preventative to an already infected dog is first of all pointless as we should be treating the infection first, but secondly could be dangerous if it has a high load of parasites in the blood.

If your dog has been on all year round without any gaps in treatment we still need to do regular testing, but the specific timing is less important.

To make it easier for you during this time of social distancing, we can provide pick up options for dogs current on their heartworm test and prevention. We have scheduled pick up times, delivery to your car at the curb, or we have a pick up desk set up in our entry. We also offer delivery to your home through our online pharmacy. Please visit that site to set it up, or call our office and we can set it up for you.

See our online pharmacy HERE.

The Minnesota Board of Veterinary Medicine has relaxed requirements for required frequency of visits for medication refills, so even if your pet is due for a test soon, if it has remained on the preventative medication, we can defer the testing requirement for several months. So please check with us on that. We are committed to keeping your required visits and our foot traffic in and out of the clinic to a minimum.

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