The Norman Transcript

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December 26, 2013

The protocol for preventive medication

NORMAN — Dear Dr. Fox: For 2 1/2 years, my dog weighed 49 pounds and took heartworm medicine for dogs weighing from 25 to 50 pounds (Sentinel once-a-month tablets). Last week, she weighed 51 pounds, and I was told to increase to the 50 to 100-pound tablet. This seems like overkill, but the vet made a big deal out of it. Though she was covered just fine at 49 pounds, she’s no longer safe since she gained 2 pounds.

What are your thoughts on this?

— M.K., Virginia Beach, Va.

Dear M.K.: You raise an important question. I had the same conundrum with one of my own dogs and decided to feed her less and exercise her more when she crossed over from a svelte 47 to 52 pounds, which meant I could keep her on the smaller dose of Heartguard’s ivermectin.

It is important in all states where there is a winter kill of mosquitoes to take dogs off this preventive medication and have a blood titer test done to make sure they are clear before resuming medication the next spring.

There are concerns that the heartworm parasite is developing drug resistance in some states, especially in the Mississippi River delta, so extra vigilance and not missing the monthly preventive medication are called for at this time.

Dear Dr. Fox: Do you recommend deworming cats? One of the three from a litter, now 9 months old, vomits after every meal. The other two are fine.

— J.V., Winston-Salem, N.C.

Dear J.V.: Please avoid the temptation to make your own veterinary diagnosis, and take your cat to see a veterinarian if you believe your cat has worms because you have actually seen them. Cats and dogs who sometimes vomit or have loose stools are too often given over-the-counter worming medications by their owners, which, more often than not, cause more harm than good and are a waste of money because worms were not a problem. But this is not to ignore the fact that most kittens and puppies need worming with the right medication once the kind of worms they have are identified.

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