In Texas, mosquito activity never fully dies off due to our mostly mild winters. As a result, heartworms are a threat year-round. At TCAP, we are often asked about the best approach to year-round protection for pets. Which medication is the best? Can’t I just skip doses in the winter time? Is there a heartworm vaccine?
Heartworm Vaccines: What You Need to KnowDespite advancements in veterinary medicine, a vaccine for heartworm disease has not yet been developed. This often leads pet owners to ask, “Is there a heartworm vaccine?” Unfortunately, prevention remains the only effective way to protect your dog or cat from this devastating condition.
Year-Round Prevention: Why It’s NecessaryWith mosquitoes present year-round in Texas, so is the risk of heartworm disease. Therefore, you must continuously administer heartworm preventive medication to ensure both your dog’s and cat’s protection. Skipping doses can put your pet at risk and leave time for heartworm larvae to develop into adult worms. The American Heartworm Society is a great resource for learning more about these terrifying parasites.
Prescription Preventive Medications: Your OptionsThe FDA mandates a veterinarian prescribe heartworm preventatives, and there are various prescription medications available to prevent heartworm disease. These include:
- Oral tablets
- Flavored chews
- Topical treatments
Regular Heartworm Testing: A Must for Pet Parents
Regular heartworm testing is essential even if your pet is on preventive medication. Testing detects potential infections early and ensures your furry friend’s ongoing health. Heartworm tests are conducted via a small sample of your pet’s blood and take around 15 minutes to produce results.
While TCAP does not currently offer cat heartworm testing, tests for dogs are available during our walk-in vaccine hours and are affordable for most pet parents.