Making the Most Out of your Dog’s Heartworm Prevention
By Dr. Geoff Gardner
Monthly heartworm preventatives have been available for over thirty years and yet the incidence of heartworm disease is not decreasing. Two main reasons are becoming apparent for this trend: Not all clients are actually given a recommendation for heartworm prevention, and not all clients are compliant with following the recommendations that are given. This article will concentrate on the latter factor.
Compliance is defined as the consistency or accuracy with which someone follows the regimen prescribed by a medical professional. Terms such as adherence, cause, or belief, have also been used to describe this behavior.
Compliance depends on the acquisition of preventive, owner administration of the product, and ensuring the medication is not vomited or otherwise removed from or by the pet.
Part of the reasons for non-compliance may be linked to studies that have shown 56% of dogs in the heartworm endemic South leave veterinary offices without prevention, and veterinary visits themselves are declining. In 2009 dog owners averaged 11.5 months between veterinary visits, but by 2014 it was 16.9 months.
Even in human medicine, compliance for taking medications on a long-term basis is typically only 50 %, dropping to 20 or 30% if a lifestyle change is required.
For these and other reasons, Pro-Heart 6 is a viable choice to dramatically increase compliance for our pets. An injection, given once every six months, eliminates the need to remember a dose, or to make sure the pet hasn’t vomited the product. A new version, Pro-Heart 12, will last twelve months. With choices like this, compliance will be much easier to achieve.
Only with the implementation of new strategies will we be able to decrease the incidence of heartworm disease. We cannot change human nature, and unless that is factored into how we approach this disease, progress will be slow. Monthly heartworm preventatives have been on the market for 3 decades, and we are seeing instances of resistance to some preventions and decreasing veterinary visits. Perhaps Pro-Heart will be able to reverse the trend and allow us to increase compliance.