Forgetting to administer your pet’s monthly heartworm prevention may seem a small mistake, but one missed dose , because that can put your pet at risk for life-threatening heartworm disease.
Never forget your pet’s prevention again with these seven strategies from Tidmore Veterinary Hospital.
Small but mighty—why every dose matters for your pet
Heartworm disease is transmitted by infected mosquitoes. But, because eradicating mosquitoes from the environment or completely blocking them from biting your pet is impossible, heartworm preventives work by attacking the heartworm parasite—Dirofilaria immitis—after transmission occurs.
Heartworm preventives don’t prevent disease acquisition—they prevent disease progression by eradicating the larval heartworms (i.e., microfilariae) in your pet’s blood before they mature to dangerous adult worms inside your pet’s lungs and heart.
Preventives work retroactively to clear existing microfilariae, which can mature into their next life stage if only one dose is missed. At that point, the growing worms are no longer treatable with preventive medication.
Don’t forget—7 strategies for remembering your pet’s preventives
We know you do your best to prioritize your pet’s health, but in today’s multi-tasking world, establishing a consistent habit is a challenge. Here are some of our favorite fail-safe—almost—strategies to ensure you always remember your pet’s monthly heartworm preventive.
- #1: Give preventives on the first of the month
Pair your pet’s preventive with a memorable date to establish a connection in your mind and create a mental reminder. Whenever you catch yourself turning the calendar page or writing the date, you’ll remember to give your pet their monthly pill, chew, or topical treatment.
Although the first of the month works well for many people, feel free to use any significant date that resonates, such as a child or significant other’s birthday or your favorite number between 1 and 28.
- #2: Create a recurring phone reminder about your pet’s preventive
Use your phone calendar to create a recurring reminder or event, ensuring you set a corresponding alarm—preferably one that continues until you complete the task. You can also set a secondary alarm to remind you the day or week before your pet is due, which can be helpful if you need to request a prescription refill at Tidmore Veterinary Hospital.
- #3: Use a pet medication app
Pet medication reminder apps conveniently keep track of your pet’s prescriptions, care tasks, and basic information. To use the app, simply set a reminder to receive a push notification when a task is due. Android and iPhone apps are available. Basic services, such as reminders, are free on most apps, while expanded features are available for an additional fee or membership.
- #4: Go old-school—write your pet’s reminder on a calendar
If you prefer using tactile or visual motivation, hand-write your pet’s reminders on a wall or refrigerator calendar. This strategy has dual benefits—the intentional act of manually writing each note can set a long-range intention, while the visual cue of the reminder each month can prompt timely action.
While these methods may not be cutting edge, their consistently effective results make them classics.
- #5: Pair the act of giving your pet’s preventive with an established habit
Coupling a new task with an established habit is a great way to ensure success. If you complete a task consistently every month (e.g., pay bills, call a relative, visit the salon), schedule your pet’s preventives for the same day.
- #6: Schedule your pet’s preventive as a one-dose autoship
Single-dose autoship subscriptions ensure you never miss a dose, because the medication’s arrival is its own reminder. When you subscribe to a single-dose autoship, our online pharmacy sends one dose of your pet’s preventive product directly to your door or mailbox every month on the date you choose. Before your pet’s prescription is gone, Tidmore Veterinary Hospital will send a reminder, so you never have to worry about running out.
- #7: Switch to injectable preventives
Injectable heartworm prevention is a revolutionary, convenient, and nearly fool-proof alternative to monthly preventives. These injections provide continuous long-range protection—up to 6 or 12 months—and are reported 100% effective against heartworm disease. Injectable preventives, which currently are available for dogs, are administered at the hospital after a negative heartworm test result.
Year-round heartworm preventives for dogs and cats and annual heartworm testing for dogs are critical for protecting your pet from this devastating, but avoidable, condition. But, as you know, good intentions alone will not safeguard your four-legged friend—they must be joined with consistent, intentional, and timely actions, such as administering a medication, applying a topical treatment, and maintaining your pet’s annual wellness care at Tidmore Veterinary Hospital.
Your pet relies on you to keep them safe from all threats—big and microscopic. Show them you can be trusted by remembering their heartworm preventive every month, all year-long. If your pet is due for their heartworm test or needs to restart preventives, contact our American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA)-accredited team to schedule an appointment.