Updated canine heartworm guidelines published

The American Heartworm Society (AHS) today releases new canine heartworm guidelines for 2010. These guidelines are considered the official veterinary industry perspective for epidemiology, diagnosis and treatment of the disease and include some notable differences from previous versions.

t is estimated that currently more than 1 million dogs in the United States are infected with heartworms. This potentially fatal disease has been found in dogs native to all 50 states. Even as diagnostic methods advance, preventive therapies improve and disease awareness increases among veterinary professionals and pet owners, heartworm continues to present a serious threat to dogs’ health.

The new guidelines are based on the latest information presented at the 2007 Triennial Symposium of the AHS and were prepared and approved by the executive board of the organization. Important highlights include the following recommendations:

  • Annual testing for heartworm disease in all areas of the United States
  • Year-round administration of prevention drugs to increase compliance, control zoonotic parasites and prevent heartworm disease
  • Use of the alternate three-treatment protocol for symptomatic and asymptomatic dogs; a departure from the recommended two-treatment protocol used previously

In addition to these updated recommendations, the new guidelines discuss potential causes of increased heartworm prevalence and recent reports of possible resistance issues with prevention products.

AHS also presents information for the veterinarian on use of the antibiotic doxycycline in the treatment of heartworm disease.

“This significant disease has cost the lives of far too many of our beloved dogs, and that’s why it is more crucial than ever for veterinary professionals to have access to the latest guidelines,” said Dr. Sheldon Rubin, president of the American Heartworm Society. “One of the most important keys to managing this preventable disease is professional knowledge.”

The 14-page guide is targeted to veterinary professionals and available as a free, downloadable PDF file on the American Heartworm Society Web site.

—From the American Heartworm Society

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