2018 Canine Heartworm Guidelines Offer New Recommendations

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In recognition of National Heartworm Awareness Month in April, the Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA) is highlighting the latest protocols for heartworm management in The American Heartworm Society's (AHS) recently released 2018 Canine Heartworm Guidelines and encouraging pet owners to start the conversation with their veterinarians about heartworm prevention.

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Because testing and treating for heartworms can be arduous and complicated, prevention is the easiest and most effective way to protect your pets from this deadly condition.

The American Heartworm Society (AHS) recently released the 2018 Canine Heartworm Guidelines, and the Texas Veterinary Medical Association (TVMA) is recognizing National Heartworm Awareness Month in April by sharing the latest protocols for heartworm management and encouraging pet owners to start the conversation with their veterinarians about heartworm prevention.

The updated 2018 Canine Heartworm Guidelines include recommendations for veterinarians to consider the use of mosquito repellents approved by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in highly endemic areas and for heat-treating a patient’s serum in specific cases as well as for veterinary professionals to continue following AHS treatment protocol. AHS treatment protocol entails annual screening for dogs more than seven months of age, compliant year-round administration of preventive drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), especially in resistant subpopulations, and reduced exposure to mosquitoes, specifically during key feeding periods.

Following AHS treatment protocol is especially important for pet owners in Texas, where the vehicle for heartworm disease—mosquitoes—runs rampant. There is no treatment currently available for cats, so prevention is crucial. For dogs, preventing heartworms is far easier, safer and more affordable than treating the disease, so partner with your veterinarian to protect your pet now.

Heartworm disease is caused when a female mosquito bites a pet, transmitting a parasite into the bloodstream. Without treatment, the parasites mature into adult heartworms, which can migrate into the blood vessels that connect the heart and lungs. As the heartworms grow in these areas of the body, they obstruct blood flow and can spread into the heart itself. The presence of heartworms can cause such complications as blood clots, high blood pressure, reduced oxygenation of the lungs and body tissues, difficulty breathing and even death.

Signs that your pet may be positive for heartworms include persistent cough, difficulty breathing, intolerance to exercise, decreased appetite and weight loss. While infected cats may show signs of lethargy, vomiting or asthma, unfortunately, the first sign is often sudden collapse or death. Because testing and treating for heartworms can be arduous and complicated, prevention is the easiest and most effective way to protect your pets from this deadly condition.

Have questions about your pet’s health while not in the veterinary clinic? TexVetPets.org brings the pet owner-veterinarian relationship online by offering information that is written and reviewed by Texas veterinarians. For more information on heartworm disease in pets, visit http://www.texvetpets.org/article/heartworm-disease-2. For more information on how this disease affects cats, visit http://www.texvetpets.org/article/can-my-indoor-cat-get-heartworms.

About the Texas Veterinary Medical Association
Founded in 1903, the Texas Veterinary Medical Association is a professional association composed of more than 3,700 veterinarians committed to protecting public health, promoting high educational, ethical and moral standards within the veterinary profession and educating the public about animal health and its relationship to human health. For more information, call 512-452-4224 or visit http://www.tvma.org.

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