Spring has sprung in Georgia. Flowers are blooming, birds are chirping and temperatures are heating up, which means mosquitos are starting to emerge after a mild winter. These pests are more than just a nuisance to us humans—they can be a real danger to our dogs. April is recognized by the ASPCA as National Heartworm Prevention Month, although every month of the year should be dedicated to keeping our pets healthy and safe from this potentially devastating parasite.
Jetta and her sister were adopted from Oconee Regional Humane Society in 2013 as puppies. They joined a very active and busy family who struggled to keep up with regular vaccinations and health maintenance, including heartworm preventative, for the two dogs. They were left outside in a fence to essentially fend for themselves, and as a result, Jetta is now in the midst of expensive and somewhat risky heartworm treatment.
Heartworm is spread only through the bite of a mosquito, and dogs may be impacted in various ways by the parasite they carry. If left untreated, heartworm disease will progress and damage the dog’s heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys, eventually causing death. While treatment is available, it’s no walk in the park for the dog or for their owner’s wallet. It is very toxic and can be tough on dogs, so their health must be monitored very closely with regular vet visits throughout the treatment protocol. It usually takes four to six months before a dog can be declared heartworm-free, and even then, the heart needs time to heal from the damage incurred, so low activity is often recommended.
Jetta has a great personality and spirit. She is extremely friendly and everyone at ORHS quickly fell in love with her, and so did her new family. They say Jetta is doing great and she loves her new home. She enjoys running around and has already made new friends in the neighborhood. But not every dog is as lucky as Jetta. Her relatively young age and the care of ORHS and their veterinary team were what made the difference in her prognosis.
“The big lesson is that taking 10 seconds and spending $5-15 per month to give them a preventative is nothing compared to the process of treating them, not to mention the cost, which the American Animal Hospital Association estimates at $400-1,000 for treatment,” said Caleb Redell, ORHS dog program director.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, especially when it comes to heartworm.