Achieving Balance and Harmony


Heartworm prevention for puppies

Contributed by Dr. Dean Dailey

Few things in life are as exciting or rewarding as welcoming a new puppy into the family. They're adorable, they're loving, they're funny – and they're also counting on you to help protect them from parasites and diseases. Here's a quick look at the main parasites and diseases you need to know about.

Heartworm Disease: A real heartbreaker

Heartworm disease in dogs has been diagnosed in every state of the US.1 Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitos, and the worms live in the heart and lungs of the dog. Clinical signs seen in dogs include cough, difficulty breathing, weight loss, exercise intolerance, and eventually heart failure and death. Unlike intestinal parasites, which can be easily treated, treatment for heartworm disease is expensive – up to $1,000 in veterinary bills2 – time consuming, and has significant side effects. Fortunately highly effective preventives like HEARTGARD® Plus (ivermectin/pyrantel) are available for this devastating disease. Dogs love to take HEARTGARD Plus,3 the only heartworm preventive approved by the FDA that's available in a Real-Beef Chewable formulation. The American Heartworm Society recommends using a heartworm preventive year-round to protect your dog.

Worms: Worth worrying about

Intestinal parasites, including roundworms and hookworms, can cause serious problems in puppies. Roundworms are commonly diagnosed in puppies,5 and may infect 90% of puppies under three months of age.6 Intestinal parasites cause more severe disease in young puppies. Clinical signs include failure to gain weight, poor hair coat, and vomiting. Some puppies may even die from roundworm infection. Hookworms are another intestinal parasite commonly seen in puppies. Infected puppies may develop diarrhea, anemia due to blood loss, and fail to gain weight. Hookworm infection can also result in death. Ask your veterinarian about proper deworming protocols for puppies. You can reduce the risk of exposure to these intestinal parasites by avoiding potentially contaminated environments and promptly removing feces from the yard or other public areas. It is also important that you place your dog on a heartworm preventive, such as HEARTGARD Plus, that is labeled for the treatment and control of roundworms and hookworms.

Important safety information:

HEARTGARD is well tolerated. All dogs should be tested for heartworm infection before starting a preventive program. Following the use of HEARTGARD, digestive and nuerological side effects have been rarely reported. For more information please visit or click here for full prescribing information.

  • 1. Slide 5. Accessed October 15, 2010.
  • 2. Vital statistics for your veterinary practice. In: Landeck E, ed. The Veterinary Fee Reference. 6th ed. Lakewood, CO:AAHA Press, 2009;57, 58, 200, 213, 226, 265, 333.
  • 3. Of dogs showing a preference in three studies conducted by independent investigators, dogs preferred HEARTGARD® Chewables over INTERCEPTOR® (milbemycin oxime) Flavor Tabs® by a margin of 37 to 1; data on file at Merial.
  • 4. Accessed October 15, 2010.
  • 5. CAPC Recommendations. Accessed October 13, 2010.)
  • 6. Schantz PM. Zoonotic ascarids and hookworms: the role for veterinarians in preventing human disease. In: Emerging Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Disease, The Compendium Suppl 2002;24(1):47-52.
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