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ESSENTIALS JULY/AUGUST 2018 9 ESSENTIALS "Are there natural ways to prevent heartworm in my pet?" This is a common—and natural—question from pet owners who want to protect pets from medications and/or chemicals they fear may be toxic. According to a 2016 Global Consumer Trends survey, regardless of its definition, "all natural" led the list of green product descriptors that resonated best with consumers. 1 HAVE CONVERSATIONS, NOT CONFRONTATIONS While it is easy for veterinarians to feel defensive in the face of pushback from clients, it is important to keep in perspective the well-meaning reasons behind their queries. Questions about natural approaches are more likely to be a reflection of the owner's personal values and genuine concern for the pet's welfare than they are to be a desire to challenge the veterinarian's recommendations. The key is to validate the owner's concern for the pet's safety without compromising recommendations that reflect the veterinarian's own best interests in the pet's health. While the bottom line is that only Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved preventives can effectively prevent heartworms, veterinarians can recommend a number of drug-free strategies to help prevent bites from infected mosquitoes. The key is positioning the following strategies as ways to supplement the use of preventives, not replace it. ■ Avoid mosquito exposure. Because heartworms are spread by mosquitoes, advise owners to keep their pets indoors overnight and avoid pet walks at dusk or dawn when many mosquitoes are feeding. ■ Eliminate standing water close to the home. Mosquitoes breed in standing water, which can be anything from a birdbath to a puddle to an empty flowerpot, pail, or wheelbarrow. While mosquitoes are capable of flying a mile or more, it is common for them to stay within a few hundred feet of where they hatch. Eliminating breeding grounds can reduce the number of mosquitoes in a pet's home environment. ■ Use natural mosquito repellents. Natural repellents such as Neem oil and CedarCide may Educating Clients About Natural Heartworm Prevention Bianca Zaffarano, DVM Clinical Associate Professor, Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine HEARTWORM HOTLINE The Heartworm Hotline column is presented in partnership between Today's Veterinary Practice and the American Heartworm Society ( ). The goal of the column is to communicate practical and timely information on prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of heartworm disease, as well as highlight current topics related to heartworm research and findings in veterinary medicine.

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