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  • Kelly Daniel

Heartworms - Easy to Prevent, Expensive to Cure

Last week I spent several hours out on the golf course with my ten year old. While we were out I discovered, much to my chagrin, I’d forgotten to grab a can of bug spray on the way out of our house. Someone must have alerted every mosquito in Lee County that I was out, and I’ve spent the days since covered in bites. It did however make me realize, it’s time to remind everyone that not only are those pests annoying to us, they can cause much worse problems for our pets because mosquitos carry heartworm disease. Because it’s borne by mosquitoes, and mosquitoes are so prevalent here in East Alabama, Heartworm disease is rampant in our area, and pets are at risk if they are not on preventative medications. This disease is easy and inexpensive to prevent, but very difficult, painful and expensive to cure Dogs and cats only can become infected with heartworms through the bite of an infected mosquito, but even if a dog or cat is an “inside only” pet, it is still at risk. The disease is especially prevalent here in the South, where we have such warm weather most of the year. The American Heartworm Society recommends year-round heartworm prevention. With summerlike weather common in Alabama even in the winter months, the potential for mosquitoes is year-round, which means the possibility for a pet to become infected with heartworms is also a year-round threat.

Heartworm prevention is easy and inexpensive. There are several options such as monthly pills, monthly topical medication administered to the skin, or injectable medications administered by a veterinarian every six months. In most cases, the money spent on one or two coffees a month will cover heartworm preventives.

Many preventatives also include protection for other intestinal parasites such as roundworms, whipworms and tapeworms.

Heartworms are, unfortunately, common in stray, and other dogs who find their way to LCHS, with about ten percent of the animals we intake testing positive for the parasite. While it is perfectly fine to adopt an animal with heartworms, as long as the adopter is committed to treatment, many potential adopters are hesitant to do so, which makes finding homes for heartworm positive animals particularly challenging.

While heartworm prevention is relatively easy and inexpensive, treatment is extremely costly, and can cost LCHS $150 to $500 to treat a single heartworm positive animal, depending on the size of the dog, and the severity of the infection. And those costs don’t include other without bloodwork, x-rays or preliminary medications needed before the medications to treat the heartworms can be administered. Please talk to your vet to make sure your pets are protected from the dangers of heartworm disease year round.

Weekly Wish: We are still in need of Royal Canin wet kitten food. It can be found at any local pet store, or on our Amazon wish list which you can find on our website under the donate tab.




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Auburn, AL | lchs1140@leecountyhumane.org | 334-821-3222

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