Help!  I just realized I am a few days late on my dog’s heartworm preventative?

First of all, don’t panic! The answer depends on what is a “few” days? 

If you have been absolutely faithful on giving it on a precise schedule the same day every month since your last heartworm test, and you are within a week of your previously scheduled dose, then you give it as soon as you remember.  

If you are truly only a few days late (meaning less than a week) then likely your pet’s risk of heartworm is not much increased. Make sure to mention this late dose to your vet when you are next in the office or give them a call at your earliest convenience.  

If you have forgotten for more than a few days, then calling your vet first and talking out the next best steps is the optimal way to go. Unsure? Then it is always the best policy to give the office a ring for advice prior to guessing.

They will likely want to make a plan for testing your pet down several months in the future.  Because there is a lag time of many months before you can know for sure that your pet has not contracted heartworms from the local mosquito population, it is important to test them as your vet advises. 

The plan your vet lays out will depend on the length of the lapse, the time of year, how many cases they are used to seeing in the area and the ecology of the local mosquito population. In many cases, your lapse will not necessarily change your medication regime or even your normal heartworm testing schedule. In other situations, your vet may choose to be more aggressive in their testing or chose to switch the type of heartworm preventative you use going forward in order to provide your pet with the best possible chance to minimize problems from this parasite. 

The most important thing is that you are honest with the person you have chosen to be your pet’s health care provider. Missed doses happen fairly commonly and are nothing to be embarrassed about. You won’t be the first or last pet owner who has called with this situation.  Honestly around this common experience makes for a better relationship with your vet and better outcomes for your beloved furry companion.

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