Prevention is your dog's best bet against heartworm disease.
It's hard to fathom how worms can live inside your dog's beating heart, but they can, and if your pet gets infected they could severely damage his heart and lungs.
Heartworms spread by traveling inside mosquitoes as larvae. When infected mosquitoes bite your dog, the heartworm larvae transfer to your pet and work their way to his heart. Once there, the worms grow, feeding off the lining of the heart and plugging essential blood vessels.
Because mosquitoes spread them, heartworms are found throughout the world. In the United States, the incidence is highest along the southern Atlantic and Gulf coasts. The disease is less common along the northern borders and at higher elevations.
If mosquitoes are biting you, chances are they're biting your pet too, so you need to protect him from heartworm disease. Happily, new preventive medications cause few side effects, combine heartworm prevention with other parasite barriers, and come in convenient once-a-month doses.
If your dog is not taking preventive medicine and is six months or older, he may already be infected with reproducing adult heartworms. Your veterinarian needs to use a blood test to confirm that your pet is heartworm-free before your dog can start taking the medication.
Why? If an infected dog takes heartworm prevention he runs the risk of an anaphylactic-shock reaction because the treatment involves a sudden killing of microfilaria, or baby heartworms, present in the bloodstream.
There are several preventive medications on the market:
Interceptor (milbemycin oxime) comes in a chewable tablet and guards against heartworms, hookworms, roundworms, and whipworms.
Sentinel combines Interceptor with Program (lufenuron), a flea-control agent.
Heartgard Plus (ivermectin and pyrantel) comes in a chewable cube and guards against heartworms, hookworms, and roundworms.
Proheart (moxidectin) comes in tablet form and protects against heartworms.
Revolution (selamectin) is the latest in heartworm prevention technology. You apply a few drops of the liquid medication to your pet's skin to guard against heartworms, fleas, ticks, ear mites, and sarcoptic mange mites.
Any of these prescription medications gives your pet excellent protection against heartworms.
If your dog does get heartworms, he can be treated. But the treatment involves expensive injections with potentially toxic reactions, so it's best to start prevention early to preserve your pet's health.
The above article is from Petco.com.
[insert chart comparison here]
My Summary of Flea/Tick Prevention and Heartworm Prevention
It’s far easier (and more cost effective) to prevent these problems than to have to mess with an infestation. You will likely want to follow your vet’s recommendations, but for those looking for the most cost effective option, you may want to consider Revolution, which offers protection against heartworm, fleas, and ticks.
If you want to follow the more traditional route of on oral heartworm preventative and a topical treatment (like Frontline) for ticks, probably the best priced product is Tri- heart for heartworm prevention. I have heard from a few veterinarians that many of the fleas in the Southeast have built up immunity to Frontline, so you may want to ask your vet before buying that particular product.