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The Face of Heartworm

Katie Blais HW Article

This is Katie one of the newest faces of heartworm. She is a very sweet 1 year old corgi mix who was adopted by a wonderful family from the area.

Katie is originally from Little Rock, Arkansas; one of the many rescue dogs who come up to New Hampshire on transports from the southern states. Many of the dogs that are in our area shelters or area rescues come up from the south because we have a high rate of adoption in the north.

Katie recently came in for a new dog exam and had a history of previously being positive for heartworm. Further blood work was performed at her visit and confirmed that she had heartworm. Treatment for Katie began shortly after her initial diagnosis.

The following is information about heartworm and why it is so important to make sure that you keep your dog on year-round heartworm preventative.

Heartworm is very prevalent in the southern states . They have about 100 cases/clinic , NH has about 6-25 cases/clinic. It is very important to make sure that your dog has heartworm testing performed every year. Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes, the adult heart worms live in the heart, lungs and associated vessels. The adult heartworm can grow up to a foot long, if untreated, numbers of heartworms can increase to several hundreds of worms. It is easier to prevent heartworm than to treat. It takes approximately 6 months for heartworm to mature. If untreated heartworm can live for 5-7 years in dogs and 2-3 years in cats. Once heartworm has been confirmed it is important to make sure that the pet is stable prior to starting treatment. Some of the signs in dogs are, but not limited to : mild cough, fatigue, decreased appetite, weight loss and can be life threatening if not treated. Dogs are not the only ones that can get heartworm disease. Cats are also at risk. Cats however get far fewer heartworms than dogs but the effects are still just as bad and are life threatening. There are heartworm preventatives out there for cats as well so speak to your veterinarian to get more information about which preventative is best for your cat.

The treatment for heartworm is very painful. The treatment is performed in 2 parts. The first injection of the medication to kill the adult worms is injected into the back muscle of the infected dog and then repeated a month later with 2 more injections. During this time it is very important for the pet to remain quiet; restricted exercise is strongly recommended. After treatment has been finished the pet should still remain on restricted activity until cleared by the veterinarian.

Preventing heartworm is easy and less costly than having to treat. Keeping your dog on year round heartworm preventatives is the best way to combat heartworm, plus it's a tasty treat that they can have once monthly.

We are happy to say that Katie has completed her heartworm treatment and is doing well. She was a trooper through treatment. Her wonderful new family is taking great care of her during recovery.

Please contact your veterinarian if you have any questions about heartworm.

Information was gathered from American Heartworm Society.

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