Heartworm Disease is Preventable
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Heartworms in Dogs - A Sad Story

(Written by our Administrative Assistant, Dawn Smith) Matt-the-Doberman was the beloved pet of my 21-year-old boyfriend. Matt and his owner had moved to Florida for a few semesters and then returned to the Maryland/Pennsylvania area.  The next few years were a blur with moving back north, adding a new career, a new home and a wife into their lives. While Matt always had a yearly exam and his necessary vaccines, he was never tested for heartworms.  When we were leaving for our honeymoon, Matt began to show some unusual symptoms including abdominal swelling and decreased energy.  The veterinarian delivered the sad news, Matt had heartworms.  Because we were a young couple with a new home, surgery was too expensive - so treatment with a low chance of recovery or euthanasia, were the only options. Treatment was given, but as is often the case, the damage done was great and recovery did not happen.  In 1988, this treatment cost approximately $1200.00. 

It is 35 years later and Matt is still remembered with all of his lovable quirks.  I miss him, and I feel the guilt of not listening better to the veterinarian’s recommendations.  Let my sad story help you and your dog. 

Heartworm disease is preventable.

Heartworm tests are available at Muddy Creek Animal Clinic ($45 as of 2020) and only take a few minutes for results. Prescription medication is also available – Heartgard Plus is a monthly chew that protects against heartworm disease as well as other intestinal parasites.  This medication is very affordable, especially in comparison to the costs of treating adult heartworm disease.

Heartworms – how they get in our pets

The heartworm meets the dog as a larval stage microfilaria – a tiny, microscopic organism in the saliva gland of the mosquito.  When the mosquito bites the dog, the tiny, larval microfilariae are shared into the dog’s bloodstream.  Over time, the larval microfilariae will migrate through the bloodstream and find a comfortable resting place in the dog’s heart. Here they grow into the adult heartworm and can cause heart disease and ultimately death.  Heartworm medications will kill off the larval microfilariae before they have a chance to grow into the adult heartworm.

Get your pet tested and protect them with a heartworm preventative such as Heartgard Plus.

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For more information on heartworm disease, please go to: Current Canine Guidelines for the Prevention, Diagnosis, and Management of Heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) Infection in Dogs at https://www.heartwormsociety.org/images/pdf/2014-AHS-Canine-Guidelines.pdf