OVERLAND PARK, KS | February 2004
With mosquito season fast approaching, many of America’s 63 million dogs will be exposed to deadly canine heartworm disease this year. While this lethal threat is preventable, studies released by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and the American Heartworm Society (AHS), estimate tens of millions of dogs are not on a heartworm preventative, leaving them needlessly at risk to this potentially fatal disease.
Canine heartworm disease is a serious and life-threatening parasitic condition in which immature heartworms migrate to the heart and lungs where they develop into adults and cause disease. These dangerous parasites are transmitted by mosquitoes, thereby putting many dogs at risk.
The American Animal Hospital Association’s (AAHA) “Compliance in Companion Animal Practices” study, released last summer, revealed 66 percent of the nation’s dogs were not given heartworm preventatives according to veterinary or label recommendations, despite the fact that 81 percent of all dogs reside in states where heartworm disease is prevalent.
Similar results were reported from an industry survey released by the American Heartworm Society (AHS). In addition, the AHS findings revealed a significant gap in dog owner compliance. While most veterinarians recommend year-round protection, the survey found dog owners, on average, give preventatives to their pets fewer than six months of the year. This leaves dogs in some areas of the country at risk for contracting heartworm infection throughout much of the year.
“Although heartworm infection can cause serious, life-threatening complications in pets, it can be easily prevented,” said Dr. Donald Doiron, a veterinarian from Lafayette, Louisiana, who serves as President of the American Heartworm Society. “For dogs and dog owners alike, there are a variety of options for preventing heartworm infection, including monthly oral products and a unique product administered by the veterinarian, providing six months of continuous protection. All of these methods are safe and extremely effective, and when administered properly and on schedule, heartworm infection can be completely prevented.”
While the veterinary community remains diligent in its fight against life-threatening heartworm disease, client compliance with preventative recommendations is still a major issue. With modern advancements in prevention, experts agree no dog should suffer from canine heartworm infection.
“Veterinarians have known for some time that compliance with dispensed at-home heartworm medications is far lower than it should be. Studies have shown that as many as 80 percent of dog owners who purchase monthly heartworm preventatives do not give them on time according to label directions, which seriously compromises the dog’s defense,” reported Dr. John Koch, a veterinarian from Cape Girardeau, Missouri.
Dog owners and veterinarians have an option, virtually assuring proper dosing and continuous protection with ProHeart® 6 (moxidectin). The latest advancement in heartworm prevention, ProHeart® 6 is a sustained-release medication providing six continuous months of heartworm disease protection, eliminating the problem of owner compliance for a full six months.
“ProHeart® 6 is very effective and safe. More importantly, it eliminates the need for pet owners to remember the monthly heartworm medication,” said Dr. Byron Blagburn of Auburn University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “Missed doses of oral preventatives clearly compromise their effectiveness.”
With heartworm infection, dogs can suffer severe heart and pulmonary damage, and potential dysfunction of the kidney and liver. Most common signs are a persistent cough, abnormal lung sounds and an intolerance to exercise. In more severe cases, signs include the enlargement of the liver, excessive fluid in the abdominal cavity, abnormal heart sounds and sudden death. Treatment for heartworm infection is a long, risky and expensive procedure.
“Heartworm disease should not be taken lightly,” said Dr. Doiron. “The AHS urges all pet owners to discuss this threat with their veterinarian and to establish a prevention plan that best fits each client’s needs. With the advancement in heartworm medications available to the practitioner today, we can make heartworm prevention extremely safe and easy for the client and pet.”
For more information on heartworm disease and ProHeart® 6, visit www.proheart6.com. ProHeart® 6 (moxidectin), manufactured by Fort Dodge Animal Health, is generally well tolerated. Use with caution in sick, debilitated or underweight animals. A small percentage of dogs showed mild, transient swelling or itching at the injection site. Rare, digestive, neurological or hypersensitivity reactions may occur. Read the package insert for more information. To obtain additional information, including a copy of the product labeling, dog owners should contact their veterinarian, or call 1-800-772-5040.
Fort Dodge Animal Health, a division of Wyeth (NYSE:WYE), is a leading manufacturer and distributor of prescription and over-the-counter animal health care products for the livestock, companion animal, equine, swine and poultry industries in North America and international markets. Key products include ProHeart® 6, Fel-O-Vax® FIV vaccine, West Nile-InnovatorTM vaccines and QUEST® Gel.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: To obtain this graphic image electronically, contact Mark Kenville at (315) 476-1646 or [email protected])