Today our morning was joined by a walk-in patient, a precious little Pomeranian named Bouncer.
Poor Bouncer has been having problems with passing out. It has occurred four times in the past year. Physically, his examination was normal and his EKG was normal. His chest radiograph (X-ray) shows some enlargement of the right ventricle of his heart, and that especially concerns us because he has been off of his heartworm preventive for about a year.
Heartworms, you see, like to live in the right ventricle of the heart as well as the pulmonary arteries. These are the arteries that take the “used” blood from the right side of the heart to the lungs to pick up new oxygen as well as to release carbon dioxide and other waste products from the blood.
We have taken blood, urine and stool samples and have sent them for laboratory testing. We will know more soon.
It is possible that other pet owners may share a misunderstanding with Bouncer’s owner. She recently bought “a pill” at Wal-Mart and reported to us that it was Bouncer’s monthly heartworm preventive.
We had the sad duty to report to her that heartworm preventives can’t be purchased at Wal-Mart, or any other over-the-counter venue.
Don’t give your pet medications or other products you can’t identify or don’t understand!
Heartworm preventives are prescription medications. Their use and sale are controlled by the federal government, The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), for the safety of pets and people. Several conditions must be met:
- heartworm preventives are to be administered under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian.
- heartworm preventives are to be dispensed only to pets who are current on their heartworm preventive, meaning they have taken a dose every month and have not missed any doses.
- heartworm preventives are sold only by veterinarians or licensed pharmacies approved to dispense veterinary medications.
- the veterinarian dispensing the medication must have a current doctor-client-patient relationship.
Let’s look at Bouncer’s specific situation. Bouncer had been off heartworm preventive for a year when his owner purchased “the pill” she thought was heartworm preventive. If Bouncer had become infested with heartworms during that year, and it was heartworm preventive, he could have had a bad reaction that could have even been fatal.
This is one of many reasons that prescription medication rules exist. Purchasing heartworm preventive from your veterinarian ensures that you will get good advice along with your heartworm preventive.
See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.