The key is prevention of infection – with either a monthly treatment such as Interceptor, Sentinel, Panoramis or Advocate, or an annual treatment with an injection (Proheart SR-12). Costs of either prevention measure are similar, but the monthly treatments often include worming for intestinal worms also which is great for puppies!
If prevention has lapsed for more than 3 months, a heart worm test will be advised, as early detection, before clinical disease develops, is vital. This early detection will allow us to prevent the inflammation and damage to the heart and vessels, and little or no harm will have been done.
When prevention has been intermittent or lapsed for a long time (>6 months), heart worm testing will be required. If your dog is infected and there are clinical signs of heart disease, more work up with chest X-rays and Blood Tests will be done, and treatment to kill the adult worms will be commenced.
Treatment is expensive and does have some risks. For this reason, regular prevention, using either a monthly or annually administered product is vital for the long term health of your dog.