Heartworm Question

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Heartworm Question

This is a discussion on Heartworm Question within the Dog Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; Does anyone know whether you have to wait 7 months to test for heartworms if you stop giving your dog heartworm prevention meds? For instance ...

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Old 05-02-2017, 08:36 AM
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Heartworm Question

Does anyone know whether you have to wait 7 months to test for heartworms if you stop giving your dog heartworm prevention meds? For instance if I stopped giving my dog heartgard in the fall & winter when conditions are not right for mosquitoes to be carrying the heartworm larvae will I have to wait 7 months and test before start him on heartgard again? How long can you stop giving your dog heartworm meds without testing before starting meds again? At what point does Ivermectin stop being effective against heartworm?
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Old 05-02-2017, 02:54 PM
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Most vets will want to test your dog prior to putting them on heartworm preventative if there has been a lapse, just to be certain your dog isn't HW positive prior to beginning preventative. There is a risk in giving heartworm preventatives if a dog has heartworm, so the vet wants to know what your dog's status is in order to be safe. That said, if a dog is newly infected by heartworms, it takes around 6 months to mature to the point that they will test positive. That's why they recommend testing 6 or so months after possible exposure. However, since your dog was potentially exposed months ago and could potentially be hosting adult worms, my guess is that they will recommend testing now (before starting prev), as well as maybe in 6 months, to be safe.

Keep in mind that you aren't necessarily preventing heartworm infection entirely, merely controlling the life cycle of the heartworms so that larvae are killed prior to maturing into damaging adult heartworms. So, you need to be treating for at least one month after last possible exposure, maybe longer, depending on the preventative, as well as other factors.

That said, I usually let my dogs lapse on HW preventative in the winter, test in spring, and put back on preventative

ETA: You can see the latest and greatest heartwporm prevention recommendations here: https://www.heartwormsociety.org/ and don't hesitate to call your vet and ask them what their policy is.

Last edited by busannie; 05-02-2017 at 02:57 PM.
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Old 05-03-2017, 06:02 AM
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Thanks busannie.
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Old 05-04-2017, 05:36 PM
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Depends on the test that the vet uses. I don't like waiting, especially if the dog is off HW prevention. Your vet will know the best route to go depending on the area of the country you live and the possibility of exposure.
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Old 05-04-2017, 06:22 PM
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After watching the stress my parents' dog went through (she had heartworms when they adopted her), not to mention the sheer cost, I just don't risk it and I keep my dogs on preventative year round. We test once a year, I buy a year's with of preventatve, and call it good. Especially since our winters seem to have shifted/become more mild (thanks climate change), so certain insects/bugs/nasties aren't dying off in the winter like they should.
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Old 05-04-2017, 07:36 PM
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Heartworms are one of those parasites that is far easier to prevent, then it is to treat. That alone is motivation for us to keep Samantha current on her heartworm preventative med. Friend of ours dog tested positive for HW, it was over a year of treatment and monitoring before she finally tested negative.
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