Preventive Heartworm Measures Still a Necessity, Especially for Outdoor Dogs

Written by: Alex Jimenez

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We all want to make sure our dogs are as healthy as possible and do our best to prevent them from picking up ticks, fleas, and from getting heartworm.If you have a dog that spends a lot of time outdoors, its exposure to heartworm increases.

A recent study at California State University at Fresno, funded by Morris Animal Foundation, showed that heartworm prevention is still an important part of a well-rounded health plan for dogs in the Western states, especially if the dogs spend a lot of time outside.

The study assessed heartworm prevalence in domestic dogs in Madera and Fresno counties, both owned and shelter held, by detecting heartworm antibodies in each dog tested. Comparisons of environmental factors, such as elevation, indicated that dogs that spent at least 50 percent of their time outdoors were significantly more likely to have heartworms than those who spent less time outside.

This was the first study of its kind in the area, as past surveys conducted in several Western states didn’t take samples from the San Joaquin Valley and adjacent foothills. In addition, in earlier studies heartworm prevalence was assessed using techniques now considered outdated.

The researchers found that more study is needed to assess other notable factors related to heartworm vulnerability of dogs, such as varying coat lengths and the impact of elevation on infection rates.

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