...and probably a dad, too
Lucerne, Morgana, Sadie, and Rocko came to us from different regions of the province early this spring. The four dogs have something in common beside their sweet and gentle personalities – they tested positive for heart worm infections.
Heart worm is a parasitic roundworm that is spread through bites from mosquitos carrying the heart worm larvae, Dirofilaria immitis. When an infected mosquito bites a dog, the heart worm larvae are transmitted to the dog's bloodstream. These larvae mature into adults that can be up to 12 inches long and take up residence inside the dog's heart.
The high-risk areas in Canada are Manitoba, southern Ontario, southern Quebec, and the Okanagan in British Columbia. A 2010 study by the Ontario College of Veterinary Medicine showed the presence of heart worm infection in dogs increased by nearly 60% since the last study of its kind in 2002.
Heart worm treatment is a very lengthy process that can take several months to eliminate all of the worms from the dog’s body. As highlighted by the Alberta Veterinary Medical Association, heart worm is often lethal. “Treatment of full-blown heart worm disease is costly, time-consuming, hazardous, and not always successful.”
During the treatment period, Lucerne, Morgana, and Rocko also have to be kept to a very strict low activity routine so as not to stress their hearts. This was a particular challenge for both Lucerne and Morgana to overcome at first, as they both came to us with litters of puppies. Keeping a mother quiet with her pups isn't an easy task. Once the puppies were weaned and over eight-weeks they were put up for adoption. The puppies (12 in total) have all found loving forever homes, and their moms are now well into their heart worm treatment.
For Rocko, it also meant no more play-time with one of our other dogs, who he formed a special bond with. Sadie has to be kept extra quiet as she has an advanced case of heart worm infection as well as a possible torn cruciate ligament in one of her hind limbs. Due to the heart worm infection, sedating Sadie to get x-rays and closer assess the limb is too risky.
While it is not only a lengthy treatment it is also a costly treatment and having four dogs requiring treatment at the same time puts a drain on our medical resources. While it is not only a lengthy treatment it is also a costly treatment and having four dogs requiring treatment at the same time puts a drain on our medical resources. Heart worm testing, along with tick-borne diseases such as Lyme Disease, is standard for all dogs that come into our care at D'Arcy's A.R.C.
We are happy to announce that Lucerne has alredy found her forever family and that both Morgana and Rocko have completed their treatments and are available for pre-adoption. Sadie is only just completing her second month of treatment for heart worm and it will be months before she is ready for adoption.
Remember to speak to your veterinarian about heart worm protection for your own dogs! It's as easy as a monthly chewable tablet. As they say, an ounceof prevention is worth a pound of cure.