We were so sad to hear that one of our pug buddies, Brando, in Tennessee was just diagnosed with Heartworm. The saddest part is that Heartworm infections are completely preventable!
Brando was recently rescued from a terrible situation. His vet sees signs that he was confined to a crate most of the time, resulting in serious walking difficulties. Most likely, he was used for breeding and otherwise ignored. Shortly after finding a loving home, Brando began to show signs of illness. Among other problems, the vet discovered a Heartworm infestation.
Brando will need medication to kill both adult worms, as well as larvae in his bloodstream. Stress on a dog's heart from the dying adult worms during treatment can be dangerous and even fatal. To prevent that, he'll need to be on crate rest for several weeks. While this infection IS curable, it also never had to happen.
According to the American Heartworm Association, dogs is every US state have been diagnosed. While the highest infection rate (45%) occurs in states that are within 150 miles of the Atlantic or Gulf coasts, or along the Mississippi River, local factors can cause increased incidence in inland states. Since Heartworm is transmitted via infected mosquitoes, you can bet that if your area has a high concentration of mosquitoes, Heartworm is a problem. Click here for a map of US Heartworm incidence.
Monthly treatment to prevent Heartworm can cost as little as $15 per month for your dog. But the medications, testing and vet care needed to treat the infection can add up to as much as $1000, depending on the severity of the disease, according to webMD.
Along with consistently administering monthly Heartworm preventatives, pay attention to mosquito control in areas where your dogs spend time outdoors. Less mosquitoes means less chance of exposure to Heartworm larvae. Although most dogs do have some level of larvae, regular use of preventative kills them before they can grow to full adult size (up to 12 inches for females) and cause damage to the heart.
Along will all our pug friends, we are hoping that Brando has a smooth and full recovery. A Chip-in has been posted for anyone who cares to donate some treat money towards his care. But most important, we hope you learned a little bit about Heartworm, and how to keep your own dogs safe and healthy.