Whether the situation is an owned pet accompanying emigrating or traveling caretakers, the relocation of homeless animals for adoption, or the movement of dogs for competition, exhibition, research or sale, this process carries the risk of spreading infectious diseases.This includes the transmission of Dirofilaria immitis when infected dogs have become microfilaremic.
The following practices will minimize the risk of heartworm transmission associated with the transportation and relocation of dogs:
1. Test all dogs greater than 6 months of age for microfilariae (Mf) and heartworm antigen (Ag) prior to relocation.
2. If dogs test positive for microfilariae or antigen, reconsider relocation at this time and begin treatment in accordance with the American Heartworm Society (AHS) Guidelines.
3. If dogs test positive and relocation cannot be postponed, clinical decisions should be based on the dog’s heartworm status.
Once heartworm-positive dogs have been safely transported, heartworm treatment should be completed according to AHS Guidelines as soon as possible.
4. If dogs test negative for microfilariae and antigen, proceed with relocation.
Caring for dogs that undergo relocation is an everyday challenge veterinarians face in today’s mobile society, and one that necessitates the adoption of approaches to mitigate heartworm transmission. Along with considering the recommendations in this document, veterinarians should ensure that transportation of animals is carried out in accordance
with state and/or federal transportation regulations, as well as professional guidelines.10,11
In the case of organized homeless animal relocation programs, veterinarians should work with both source and destination organizations to establish protocols for minimizing transmission of infectious diseases, including heartworm disease.
Read more at HeartWormSociety.org