April is heartworm awareness month. We find this very timely as our newest rescue Penelope was recently found as a stray, starving and neglected, and was diagnosed with a severe case of heartworm.
Penelope found in March
Heartworm disease is serious and potentially fatal. Infected mosquitoes carry heartworm. Dogs bitten by infected mosquitos transmit the parasitic worms. Once a dog is affected, foot-long worms live in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. Depending on the class of heartworm, symptoms may include labored breathing, coughing, anemia, high blood pressure, exercise intolerance, fainting, and rapid heart beat. However, some dogs may have no symptoms.
Heartworm can be deadly if not discovered and treated properly, and often time’s treatment is difficult. It can cause severe lung disease, heart failure, and organ damage and can cost more than $1,000 for treatment. That’s why prevention is so important.
Just like you, pets need regular check-ups with their doctor. Make sure your dog gets yearly veterinary exams that include updated immunizations, parasite checks, and heartworm tests. It’s recommended that pet owners should give a heartworm preventative each month all year round. Some pet owners opt out of treating their dogs during the winter months. However, you never know when the first mosquito will emerge or the last mosquito will die, especially with the unpredictable weather we’ve seen in the last few years.
According to the FDA, Heartworm has been reported in dogs in all 50 states. Just because you live in colder climates, doesn’t mean your dog is safe. Heartworm disease is completely preventable. It’s much safer and cheaper than treating a case of heartworm disease.
Fortunately, Penelope is responding well to treatment and was cared for by one of our foster families during the 10-day wait period. Penelope is now at WagsInn and has a long road to recovery. It takes months to be fully cured from heartworm disease. Check back often to find out how Penelope is doing and when she will be ready for adoption.
For treatment options or questions, please contact your veterinarian.