Document Type

MS Thesis

Publication Date



Canine heartworm disease (CHWD) is caused by infection with the nematode parasite Dirofilaria immitis transmitted through the bite of a mosquito carrying the infective stage larva. The disease is insidious in its onset and almost 100% preventable with the use of highly effective pharmaceutical compounds that target the migrating larval stage acquired from the mosquito. However, use of canine heartworm prophylaxis among pet dog caretakers is not universally accepted and sometimes viewed with skepticism. Previous research conducted in the Cumberland Gap Region (CGR) indicated that 41.8% of dog owning individuals do not use prophylactic products. In this study, we surveyed pet dog caretakers across the United States from October 2021-February 2022 to determine reasons for the use or non-use of canine heartworm prophylaxis to prevent CHWD. Results of 305 responses were analyzed from 31 states in the domestic United States and Puerto Rico (PR). Among survey participants, 22% of dog caretakers chose not to give their pets heartworm prophylaxis. Pet dog caretakers in the US chose not to give their pets canine heartworm prophylaxis for economic reasons (46%, 21/46), environmental factors (24%,11/46), subscribe to beliefs associated with a holistic approach to prevention (9%,4/46),low perceived risk of CHWD (6.5%,3/46),or other reasons (28%,13/46).These results can aid veterinary professionals to address the educational challenges associated with heartworm prophylaxis and disease to increase their use and gain better rapport with clients.


This thesis is submitted to LMU Institutional Repository by Dr. Charles Faulkner (Major Professor) on behalf of Ms Stacie D. Williams (6/24/2024).