Study identifies ways to improve heartworm drug compliance

Better communication goes a long way in clearing up confusion among pet owners, Ceva reports.

Study identifies ways to improve heartworm drug compliance

Having frequent and frank conversations with veterinary clients is effective at getting pet owners to stay current with heartworm preventives, according to a study sponsored by pharmaceutical maker Ceva Animal Health.

The report also found confusion among dog owners as 1 in 4 believed they were giving a heartworm preventive when in reality they were protecting only against fleas and ticks.

“As a veterinary professional, we may feel like people who don’t use heartworm prevention are making bad choices about protecting their dog from heartworm disease,” said Karen Padgett, DVM, president of the consultancy firm Unfenced, which managed the study. “However, many pet owners responded [that] they haven’t been given the information needed to make potentially lifesaving decisions for their pet. More likely, they didn’t understand the information that was shared, or they simply forgot the information over time.”

The study results, which will be explained during an April 24 webinar — register at —also showed that:

  • 25% of dogs receive heartworm preventives regularly.
  • 33% of heartworm preventive buyers purchased it during the past year.

“The goal of this research was to understand why consumers don’t use these products consistently,” Dr. Padgett said. “We also sought to understand the hearts and minds of pet owners who are the most compliant in administering preventives.

“We found dramatic differences in the experiences of pet owners, which translated directly into whether their pet was taking a heartworm preventives or not.”

A pet owner’s decision to commit to heartworm prevention often starts in the veterinary clinic.

“Our research showed the most consistent users follow their veterinarian’s recommended steps for preventing the disease. They also value and rely on their veterinarian’s recommendations more than inconsistent and non-users,” said Charles Johnson, DVM, senior director of veterinary services and pharmacovigilance at Ceva.

I. Craig Prior, BVSc, CVJ, a Companion Animal Parasite Council board member, pointed to “a direct correlation between the relationship with someone’s veterinarian and consistent and correct usage of heartworm prevention.”

“Pet owners want to hear from their veterinarian about potential risks to their dogs’ health and well-being, Dr. Prior said. “They are looking to their veterinarian to provide recommendations on how they can best protect the health of their pets. This study shows when we are prepared to focus on education and serving as a trusted adviser, pets receive the care they need and deserve.”

Ceva also noted that pet owners who have frequent and frank conversations with a veterinarian “have fewer issues with the cost and actual administration of the preventives.” Protection Status