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Animal Care Blog

Humans Hating Heartworms
 Posted: 08/16/17 4:14 PM by Dr. Karen Cooley

One of the biggest hurdles to building a NO KILL community is heartworm disease.  Since heartworms are spread by mosquitoes, it’s pretty rampant in the Southeast!  25% of dogs entering our shelter are infected with heartworms.  It’s easy to see, we can never be a NO KILL shelter without addressing how we save these dogs and get them adopted. It is a big undertaking not just because it is so common, but because it is so deadly, so expensive, and so time consuming to treat!  The treatment for a 50lb dog even at our cost is about $565 and takes a minimum of 3 months to complete when following the American Heartworm Society guidelines.  That seems impractical and almost impossible in a shelter situation.  Despite all odds, thanks to generous donors, caring foster parents, and loving, committed adopters, we are saving heartworm infected dog's lives like never before.  I couldn't be more proud of the work that I have been enabled to do here at Animal Care!

Many people think that heartworm infection only happens to large outdoor dogs. It’s simply not true. I have treated about every conceivable size and type of dog here, from Chihuahua to Mastiff. My heartworm patients range from the young 1-year-old, seemingly healthy and highly adoptable dog, to the older, special needs dog.  Have you ever seen a mosquito in your house, or gotten bitten on a short errand outdoors?  I know I have!  It just takes 1 bite to infect a dog with heartworms and only a few worms to be fatal if untreated.  

The sad part is that it was 99% preventable.  So, if you can't help us, help your own dogs by testing them yearly for heartworms and using prevention year round! (P.S. Cats aren't a primary host for heartworms, but they can be infected too and die from 1-2 heartworms.  Prevention is available for them as well).  If you can help us, we need donations to help defer the large cost of giving these dogs a second chance at life.  Fostering a heartworm positive dog, or adopting one, is another great way to help.  I would like to share some of the dogs we are saving with you, so you can partner with us in caring for these awesome dogs!  Tune later in soon to meet some of them. Check out the collage below for some pictures of heartworm positive dogs who's lives have been saved thanks to caring humans like you!
Heartworm positive dogs who were saved