Heartworms are a parasite of the bloodstream. The larval form (baby worms) are carried from dog to dog by mosquitoes. Once the larva grow up, they become a long, spaghetti-like worm living in the heart. Preventing these is very important; there is treatment for this infection but it is very expensive and painful. Dogs undergoing treatment must be kept absolutely quiet (e.g. crated) for many weeks after getting the medication. This parasite is easily prevented.
Heartgard is a chewable tablet given once a month to prevent heartworms, and as a bonus it prevents most intestinal worms too! (And we all know dogs like to eat things that are gross.) Other monthly oral options include Sentinel, Interceptor, and some generic brands. There is one topical medicine called Revolution that is supposed to prevent all common parasites: heartworms, intestinal worms, fleas and ticks. It does not prevent tick infestation, so we usually do not recommend it. It is also not a true topical; this medicine is put on the skin but absorbs into the blood stream.
We love to see folks out enjoying the good weather with their pets: please be safe and don’t bring parasites into your home, or let them live inside your pet! Remember that ticks carry many diseases like Lyme disease that can be given to people, with awful consequences. Use heartworm and flea and tick prevention monthly. Come talk to us for more information or to help you decide which is best for your pet.