Heartworm Positive Dogs
Every year Florida Boxer Rescue takes in several dogs who seem healthy on the outside, but then test positive for heartworms. The treatment for heartworms is expensive, and can cost our rescue $250-$800 per dog. Along with the cost, it is also painful for the dog, and they have to remain quiet for a month or several months. Monthly preventatives only cost about $7-15 a month. We currently have several heartworm positive dogs that will cost our rescue thousands of dollars. To make a donation towards their vet care, please click on one of the chipin buttons which is pooled together in a chipin towards our HW+ dogs. Remember, no donation is too small. The money donated will be primarily spent towards our vet bills. At the bottom of the page there is also some educational information on heartworm preventatives and treatment.
Canine Heartworm Disease
Dogs are considered the definitive host for heartworms ( Dirofilaria immitis). However, heartworms may infect more than 30 species of animals (e.g., coyotes, foxes, wolves and other wild canids, domestic cats and wild felids, ferrets, sea lions, etc.) and humans as well. When a mosquito carrying infective heartworm larvae bites a dog and transmits the infection, the larvae grow, develop and migrate in the body over a period of several months to become sexually mature male and female worms. These reside in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels. As mature adults, the worms mate and the females release their offspring (microfilariae), pronounced: (micro-fil-ar-ee-a), into the blood stream.
Canine heartworm infection is widely distributed throughout the United States. Heartworm infection has been found in dogs native to all 50 states. All dogs, regardless of their age, sex, or habitat, are susceptible to heartworm infection. The highest infection rates (up to 45%) in dogs (not maintained on heartworm preventive) are observed within 150 miles of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts from the Gulf of Mexico to New Jersey and along the Mississippi River and its major tributaries. Other areas of the United States may have lower incidence rates (5% or less) of canine heartworm disease, while some regions have environmental, mosquito population and dog population factors that allow a higher local incidence of heartworm infection. Regions where heartworm disease is common have diagnosed infections in dogs as young as one year of age, with most areas diagnosing infections primarily between the ages of three and eight years. Although there are differences in frequency of infection for various groups of dogs, all dogs in all regions should be considered at risk, placed on prevention programs and frequently examined by a veterinarian.
Most dogs infected with heartworm can be successfully treated. The goal of treatment is to kill all adult worms with an adulticide and all microfilariae with a microfilaricide. It is important to try to accomplish this goal with a minimum of harmful effects from drugs and a tolerable degree of complications created by the dying heartworms. Heartworm infected dogs showing no signs or mild signs have a high success rate with treatment. Patients with evidence of more severe heartworm disease can be successfully treated, but the possibility of complications and mortality is greater. The presence of severe heartworm disease within a patient in addition to the presence of other life-threatening diseases may prevent treatment for heartworm infection.
While treatment of canine heartworm disease is usually successful, prevention of the disease is much safer and more economical. There are a variety of options for preventing heartworm infection, including daily and monthly tablets and chewables. These products are extremely effective and when administered properly on a timely schedule, heartworm infection can be prevented.
The American Heartworm Society is now recommending year-round prevention, even in seasonal areas. One reason for this is compliance – to make sure the medicine has been given properly by the pet owner. In addition, most monthly heartworm preventives have activity against intestinal parasites. Many of these same intestinal parasites that infect dogs can also infect people, with estimated infections occurring in three to six million people every year. So this added benefit of monthly deworming makes great sense.
Before starting a preventive program, all dogs that could possibly be infected with mature heartworms should be tested.
© 2012 American Heartworm Society | PO Box 8266 | Wilmington, DE 19803-8266 | E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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*Please Note all donations made towards individual dogs will be used to pay for all Florida Boxer Rescue vet bills. Florida Boxer Rescue appreciates all donations made, and remember that any donation made to us is tax deductible.