Thursday, June 30, 2011

Meet Mila

With this blog, we will give some information about heartworm that we hope will be helpful for dogs and people. We are also going to follow Mila's eventual heartworm treatment. So we thought it might be nice for everyone to learn more about her!

Right before Thanksgiving, 2010, a plea was sent out for a dog who was in need. It was an e-mail sent by one rescue volunteer to the director, who then forwarded it on to me. These types of e-mails go around all the time, usually with a deadline and a negative consequence for the dog if no one can help. It is heartbreaking because the truth is that you cannot always help. They often do not send them on to everyone because it is so hard to say no so many more times than you can say yes.
I read the e-mail, figuring that there had to be something special here. It was sad and also fairly common because life happens and upsets us all, people and pets alike. This particular dog’s person had been placed in a nursing home, relatives had taken the dog just in case her person would be able to move back home. It was eventually determined that the owner was unable to be on her own and would remain in a care facility. 

But for seven months the relatives kept this dog, then called Mindy, in a kennel outdoors next to their hunting dogs. They had made efforts to place her once and that had not worked out. Mindy sounded like your usual “you need to be smarter than the dog” German Shepherd. They were trying to do right by her, but were leaving over the holiday. That was the deadline and the consequence was that Mindy would be taken to their county shelter. 

It was not an awful shelter either, but as I read on, I found that she was almost nine, the same age as my own German Shepherd, Bella. Almost nine and in a shelter; I did not want to imagine my dog in a shelter, because of something out of my control. 

This dog had an unnamed eye condition. My own Bella has plasmoma, or pannus of the third eyelid, a congenital eye disorder. 

Then I saw there was an attachment and opened it. That’s when I realized why the rescue director had emailed the photo to me. The dog in the photo looked exactly like (how to say this nicely) a well-fed Bella. At Christmas. With Santa Claus. Oh my.

Mindy, now Mila

Bella (her former name Brandy)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Heartworm Disease

What is heartworm disease and why are we, as a rescue, blogging about it?

There is a lot of great information on the American Heartworm Society website about what heartworm is.

To take just a little piece of that so that we all understand:
Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal condition caused by parasitic worms living in the arteries of the lungs and occasionally in the right side of the heart of dogs, cats and other species of mammals, including wolves, foxes, ferrets, sea lions and (in rare instances) humans. Heartworms are classified as roundworms and are one of many species of  these worms. Dogs and cats of any age or breed are susceptible to infection.

So basically, heartworms are a type of worm that grows in the lungs and the heart of infected animals. It is serious enough to be able to kill an animal.

It is also worth noting that these worms can grow up to 12 inches long. Yes, that is right: 12 inch long worms inside our pet's lungs and heart. We are not trying to scare people, but it just might do that! Click here for a ruler so you can see what that length really looks like!

Would you like to see an actual picture of adult heartworms in a dog's heart? It's graphic so we will make it a link:
From the Placerville Vet website - click to see a heart with heartworms

When I got my first dog I didn't know any of this. There was a pill, I gave it. There was a test, he took it.  It was only when I began to volunteer with rescue, and would see dogs that were labeled as "Heartworm Positive" that I started to want to try to understand this disease.

This leads us to the why of our blog:

1. We are blogging to share important and hopefully easy to use information about heartworm disease and prevention so that everyone can have at least a basic (which is what we have) understanding of heartworm when you talk to your veterinarian.

2. We are blogging to show what heartworm treatment is like for a dog, and will be following the story of Mila, a rescue dog in a foster home.

We are hopeful that these two things will help to encourage people to prevent heartworm disease and reduce the number of heartworm positive pets.

Feel free to comment, ask questions, and suggest things you would like to see! Thanks for reading!