Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Rescue Tuesdays

Do you know much about Heartworms in Dogs?

Unfortunately, in Florida if you do not have your dog on heartworm preventative, it is a matter of when, not if, they will contract heartworms. Heartworms is not a contagious dog to dog worm. It is transmitted only by mosquito. Humans cannot get heartworms. Sadly, a large portion of stray and neglected dogs who find their way into rescue are heartworm positive.

As a volunteer at a rescue, I find many people are very nervous about adopting a heartworm positive dog. To be sure, it is a serious thing, however once treated, most dogs go on to live long, happy lives. There are several methods of treating heartworms and one that is increasing finding favor in the rescue community is the "slow kill" method. Simply give the dog Heartguard preventative monthly and many dogs will test heartworm negative a year or two later. Basically what you are doing is interrupting the life cycle of the heartworm, not allowing it to reproduce and then the worms themselves die off naturally over a year or two. This method is much less toxic and easier on the dog. The more traditional method of killing heartworms is a very strong medication that immediately kills all the worms, but then the dog must be crated for several months to avoid any strenuous activity during the time the worms are being absorbed by the body.

Recently, you may have seen a picture of Mondo, the gorgeous Great Pyrenees, we pulled from Animal Control. Mondo was a stray and is heartworm positive. He shows no signs of heavy heartworm infestation (heavy breathing, coughing, lethargy) and he is being treated with the slow kill method. Mondo's happy ending is that he has been adopted by Doglando staff member, Sylvia and her husband.

If you are ever in a position where you are interested in adopting a dog, and then find it is heartworm positive, before you just say no, do a little homework first. Heartworms, while serious, can be overcome and you will have truly saved a life!

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