Friday, January 15, 2010

Heartworms Heartache

My next foster dog will be a little chihuahua mix that I'm calling Tuffy because he will have to be tough through the next few months. He is heartworm positive. The Tulsa Shelter picked him up and asked ARF to take him on. This means he would be euthanized if Animal Rescue Foundation didn't step in to save him. The call went out and I answered it. I can't stand to hear about any chihuahua being euthanized. Tuffy is at the veterinary right now. They are giving him his vaccines and starting him on heartworm preventative to kill the baby heartworms first before they tackle the adult heartworms.

Heartworms are transmitted through mosquito bites. They are preventable if you give your pet a heartworm preventative every month. In Oklahoma, we suggest that people keep their dogs and cats on heartworm preventative all year long because of our weird weather. You never known when you will see a mosquito! People with inside pets should keep their animals on HWP because mosquitoes come inside and they can also land on pets and bite them while on walks or outside going potty.

Once you allow your dog or cat to contract HWP, you are in trouble and so is the pet. Heartworms are fatal in cats. So say bye-bye to your cat if she/he comes up positive with heartworms.

In dogs, the heartworm treatment is fairly aggressive. If the dog is older and sickly, he/she won't live through the treatment. Young dogs can make it through, but it is tough and the whole treatment takes about three months. And the treatments are not free! Get ready for a hefty veterinary bill.

I feel sorry for little Tuffy even though I haven't even met him yet. No one was looking out for the poor, little fella and now he must suffer for it. He has been neutered, so that tells me that he was someone's responsibility at one time. Someone who was irresponsible.

The first dog I fostered was heartworm positive and that was a trial by fire! Believe me, I wondered what I had gotten myself into as I struggled to keep a young, rat terrier mix quiet and calm after she had been treated for heartworms. She wanted to race about the backyard and jump and leap at squirrels. I couldn't allow this because if her heart pumped too hard, it would pump the bits of decomposing heartworms into her blood stream and that would kill her. I got her through it, but just barely! She broke two or three knick-knacks in my living room and beheaded a statue in my back yard. I had her on a retractable leash and she bolted. The leash went taut and cut the head off the statue. I was just glad my fingers hadn't been cut off. I have never used a retractable leash since then.

If you don't have your dog or cat on heartworm prevention, make an appointment today to have your pet tested for heartworms. If given a clear bill of health, then buy some HWP. You don't want to put your dog through such an ordeal when it is so easily prevented. And heartworm preventative will literally save your cat's life.