Heartworms are a different story. They are transmitted from dog to dog by the bite of a mosquito, and eight months or more may go by from the time a dog is bitten until the worms mature. Treatment is dangerous (although less dangerous
• Give a subsequent booster shot every three years, unless there are risk factors that make it necessary to vaccinate more or less often.
Noncore vaccines should only be considered for those dogs who risk exposure to a particular disease because of geographic area, lifestyle, frequency of travel, or other issues. They include vaccines against distemper-measles virus, canine parainfluenza virus, leptospirosis, Bordetella bronchiseptica, and Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease).
Vaccines that are not generally recommended because the disease poses little risk to dogs or is easily treatable, or the vaccine has not been proven to be effective, are those against Giardia, canine coronavirus, and canine adenovirus-1.
Often, combination injections are given to puppies, with one shot containing several core and noncore vaccines. Your veterinarian may be reluctant to use separate shots that do not include the noncore vaccines, because they must be specially ordered. If you are concerned about these noncore vaccines, talk to your vet.
than the deadly worm itself), but your dog should not have to undergo treatment, because heartworms are preventable.
Puppies can be put on preventive medication at a young age, and from then on should be tested annually. Because the medication may make a dog who is harboring adult heartworms critically ill, adult dogs must test free of the worms before they can begin a preventive regimen.
Symptoms of heartworm infestation include a chronic cough, weight loss, and exhaustion, because the worms interfere with the action of the dog's heart. Prevention is the only defense, and it must be started early and continue throughout the dog's life.
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