HEARTWORM PREVENTATIVE 2021 UPDATE
Oh wait, instead, there’s this legal “out” that relieves everyone but YOU of any responsibility for failure of a heartworm prevention “medication.” “ Application of an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered mos- quito repellent /ectoparasiticide has been shown to increase the overall efficacy of a heartworm prevention program… ” (Verbatim quote from multiple sources.) In other words, everyone is exempted from liability for heartworm infection “damages” if the owner fails to use mosquito repellent. But wait! There is no way an owner can legally prove that they administered the product. That is tantamount to saying the blowout that caused you to have a wreck isn’t the fault of the defective tire, it is your fault because your dog peed on your tire that day. The American Heartworm Society admits to a “lack of efficacy” (LOE) in preventing heartworms. 1 The term is accurate enough in that it is the FDA’s clinical defini- tion of “a dog testing heartworm positive regardless of appropriateness ( emphasis added ) of dosage or admin- istration consistency.” Buried in long pages of fine print are state- ments such as: “ There is also biological variation in how hosts within the same species metabolize a drug and host immune response to parasites, as well as how parasites respond to a drug. Thus, the cause of a reported LOE of a product can be extremely difficult to determine. ” And sort of as an aside… “ The increase in the number of LOE reports to the FDA during the past several years has led to concerns of possible heartworm resistance to the current heartworm preventives. ” Oh, if in the remoted chance that a “lack of efficacy” fails to protect the man- ufacturer and distributor from legal liability, blame it on immune mosquitoes! The American Heartworm Society goes on (and on) citing lab studies with high rates of prevention (not total success, but higher), but it then cautions veterinarians to make sure their clients understand the “ implications of heartworm infection ” and “ the risk of heartworm infec- tion in their area. ” Good advice, especially since the heartworm-carrying mosquito has spread north, and “their area” may have moved from low risk to medium or high risk.
MOST HEARTWORM PREVENTION PRODUCTS STILL RECOMMEND THAT ‘HEARTWORM RE-TESTING IS CONDUCTED TWO TO THREE TIMES PER YEAR.’ THIS PROTECTS THE DOG FROM OWNER NEGLIGENCE OR FORGETFULNESS.
And then there’s this release-of-liability, cover-your-butt, sentence labeled as “critical” advice to ensure that clients are “ providing their pets with appropriate year-round heartworm prevention. ” I read that as: Buy their helpful (but explic- itlyNOTguaranteed product) year-round, even if you spend thewinter covered in snowpack. As a professional reporter, I know enough about marketing to be skeptical about “quantified advice.” However, you will decide whether to administer heartworm prevention year-round. But do so with the knowledge that it is, in fact, a systemic poison that can cause a myriad of seemingly unrelated health problems. Also, that it is explicitly NOT guaranteed to protect your dog. Most heartworm prevention products still recommend that “heartworm re- testing is conducted two to three times per year.” This protects the dog from owner negligence or forgetfulness. We must assume that this is also meant to explain away and/or reveal any dog found to be heartworm positive while being treated with a preventative. I am not “against” anything, including profit, but if the product works as represented (unless you read the fine print, some of which you have just been exposed to) then testing three times per year makes no sense. On the other hand, it makes perfect sense to veterinary practices in 2021, most of which are corporate entities, no longer owned by the veterinarian who just works for the company. It is a good thing that I can re-use my hands, because then there’s this: Routine re-testing could decrease the risk of heartworm disease, but more to the point, it gets the dog in for, hopefully, what will be a through check-up. I would be remiss in not reminding readers that a dog that throws up the medicine is problematic. Your good vet is aware of that and, therefore, he or she may recommend YEAR-ROUND DOSING no matter where you live. Minnesotans, listen up. This means that your pets get treated 365 days, without a break. In my opinion, the best thing about the report is that it may offset the decline in heartworm preventative sales. Well, everyone will have to make their own decision. Many, like me, weighed the odds of (1) my dogs being bitten by a mosquito carrying heartworm larvae, (2) whether the larva ever make the long journey to the heart, and (3) the number of larvae actually mature so as to potenti- ate damage—as compared to the certainty of poisoning the dog every day. Re-read that slowly, and while you’re thinking about it, let me give you
108 | SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, MAY 2021
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