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Vet Parasitol. 2011 Mar 22;176(4):324-32. doi: 10.1016/j.vetpar.2011.01.017. Epub 2011 Jan 19.

Attributes, knowledge, beliefs, and behaviors relating to prevention of heartworm in dogs among members of a national hunting dog club.

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  • 1Department of Comparative Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996-4543, USA.


The Food and Drug Administration Center for Veterinary Medicine (FDA/CVM) has cited an increasing number of reports of failure of heartworm prophylaxis in dogs. Failures may be due to resistance of L(3)-L(4) stage Dirofilaria immitis to the macrocyclic lactone class of compounds used for prophylaxis, lack of compliance with and understanding of administration of prophylactics, individual differences in drug absorption or metabolism, or a combination of these factors. Using the latest scientific information, the American Heartworm Society (AHS) and Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) have developed guidelines for the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of heartworm infection in dogs. This study summarizes the knowledge, beliefs, and behaviors relating to prevention of heartworm among members of a national hunting dog club, visitors to the club website, and attendees at club-sponsored events. These factors can have a direct effect on the success of heartworm prophylaxis. Results suggest that the dog owners lack confidence in the accuracy of the heartworm test to identify infection, the efficacy of products sold for prevention of heartworm, and the effectiveness of treatment to eliminate adult heartworms from infected dogs. Knowledge about when to begin heartworm preventive medication in a new puppy and the timing of heartworm tests was also lacking among a substantial number of respondents. In order to increase acceptance of prophylaxis and reduce the likelihood of a false conclusion of prophylactic failure, education of dog owners should focus on the need for an appropriately timed annual heartworm test and the importance of administering the last dose of monthly heartworm preventative after the last possible day of potential transmission.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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