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Heartworm Disease

Heartworm disease has been diagnosed in all 50 states and is a growing problem everywhere in the US. Heartworms are spread when a mosquito bites an infected animal, ingests an immature heartworm, then bites a non-infected animal and injects a mature heartworm parasite.

It has become standard practice to recommend heartworm preventative year-round, since these medications also treat and prevent a variety of other internal parasites (including hookworms and roundworms) that are present in the environment all the time.

Even in New Mexico, heartworm infection is a real risk, and it is much easier, safer, and less expensive to prevent than it is to treat. Heartworm treatment involved a series of monthly intramuscular injections of an arsenic-based drug and may cause lethargy as well as swelling at the injection site. The cost of this treatment varies depending on the size of your pet, and may cost over $1,000.

By comparison, heartworm prevention is relatively inexpensive and requires only monthly doses of an oral or topical medication. We will need to draw a small blood sample to test for the presence of heartworms before starting the medication, but if you keep your pet on this medication year-round as recommended, we only need to test him or her every two years.

We offer several different options for heartworm preventative medication.

For dogs: Sentinel (chewable tablet), Heartgard Plus (soft chew), and Revolution (topical medication).

For cats: Revolution (topical medication).

Frequently Asked Questions


What happens if I miss more than one dose of preventative?

Pets who miss two or more doses of heartworm preventative can only be prescribed six months of the medication, then must be tested before more of it can be prescribed.

What if I only have my pet on heartworm preventative during active mosquito months?

Since we're not able to accurately predict when the threat of heartworm transmission is gone, we have to re-test patients every spring before prescribing a new course of heartworm medication.

Is it dangerous to give heartworm preventative medication to a pet with heartworms?

It definitely can be. Killing heartworms in the body with preventative medication may cause them to block the vessels supplying blood to the lungs, which may be fatal.

Fleas & Ticks

Some areas of the United States are heavily infested with ticks carrying everything from Rocky Mountain spotted fever to Lyme disease. Many of which can even be transmitted directly to humans as well as cats and dogs. Northern New Mexico is not generally seen as a tick and tick-borne disease hotbed, but there are certainly still places here where ticks can be found, especially near water sources and in the mountains.

Fleas, on the other hand, are of particular concern to residents of the Santa Fe area. Our local populations of ground squirrels, prairie dogs, pack rats, and rabbits are great hosts for fleas, and are also a reservoir for the bacteria that cause plague and tularemia, both of which are serious diseases that can make people and pets very sick. We generally see several dogs and cats test positive for plague or tularemia every year.

For more information on plague and tularemia, including an FAQ and other preventive measures, click here.

When animals or humans are bitten by a flea or tick that has recently fed on another infected creature, the infection can easily be passed on. The best way to reduce the possibility of this happening to you or your pets is to keep them on flea and tick prevention during the warmer times of year, when fleas and ticks are most active.

We carry a number of different flea and tick preventatives for cats and dogs.

Some are given by mouth (oral) and others are applied to the skin (topical), but they are all (like heartworm preventative medication) given once monthly.

Depending on your pet's lifestyle, there may be certain medications that are more or less suitable for him or her, so don't hesitate to ask one of our staff members about which is best.

For Dogs

  • Oral: Nexgard, Sentinel (flea eggs only)
  • Topical: Frontline Gold, Revolution (fleas only; also a heartworm preventative)

For Cats

  • Topical: Frontline Gold, Revolution (fleas only; also a heartworm preventative)

Contact Us

Smith Veterinary Hospital

Location

600 Alta Vista St. Santa Fe, New Mexico 87505

Clinic Hours

Monday-Friday: Clinic Hours | 7:30 AM - 5:00 PM Urgent Care | 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM Saturday: Clinic Hours | 8:00 AM - 12:00 PM Urgent Care | 12:00 PM - 4:00 PM Sunday: Urgent Care Only | 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM