If you asked me 15 years ago whether your San Diego dog needed to be on monthly heartworm prevention, I would’ve responded with a resounding, “Meh . . .” You see, back then we didn’t really have much of a heartworm problem down here.

Now, if clients were traveling to the mountains in our area, or to other parts of the country where heartworm disease was more prevalent, that advice would change a bit. But even then, we didn’t really push the issue if clients weren’t interested in talking about heartworm prevention.

It’s different now.

In October of last year, the Companion Animal Parasite Council identified Oceanside, CA (where I practice) as one of the 10 cities in the country with the highest percentage increase in positive heartworm tests.

In fact, we were Number Two on the list. Yowza. So now I recommend year-round heartworm prevention to all my clients.

You guys, these pesky parasites are no joke. When I was in vet school at the University of Georgia I got to perform anesthesia on a dog who was infested with heartworm and extremely ill. The procedure is called a “heartworm pull,” and it’s exactly what it sounds like. The surgeon actually goes into the vena cava and physically removes the worms that have taken up residence in the vessels in and around the dog’s ticker.

The very cool thing was that I could actually see the dog’s vital signs improve as soon as the surgeon began removing the worms. Even while the pup was under anesthesia. Crazy.

But I think we can all agree that heart surgery is maybe not the best option for dealing with heartworm. I mean, giving an injection once or twice a year, or maybe a monthly pill, seems like a much much much much easier option. It’s a far sight less expensive, too.

So, to recap:

  1. Heartworms bad.
  2. Heartworm treatment no fun and expensive.
  3. Heartworm prevention easy and inexpensive.

Talk to your veterinarian about your dog’s lifestyle and risk for heartworm. They can recommend the best prevention plan for you and your dog. Stay safe out there!