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!

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