Thursday, July 14, 2011

Staging Mila

When we first found out Mila was heartworm positive, it was somewhere between a surprise and expected. Expected because she had been outside, without heartworm pills for 7 months. A surprise because she had tested negative in December. But expected based on what we understand about how heartworm works. Still, just a little surprised and the reason for this blog - trying to help other people and dogs not have to go through something that can be prevented.

Once a dog is found to be heartworm positive, you start to work on keeping them quiet. We knew this was going to be a challenge with her. Mila is nine years old on paper, and her legs may be a little wonky sometimes, but in her mind and in her attitude she is a much younger dog. Mila is spirited and bossy, in a caring way. She is a town crier, announcing things that need to be done. Breakfast, end of quiet time, afternoon potties, all of these things and more, Mila is the app for that, without the need for a fancy phone. She's a SmartDog.

So that was challenge #1, and one that we are still working on leading up to her treatment. That's right, we still haven't figured out how to keep Mila calm. More on that another time!
Little old me?
The next thing you need to do is let your vet stage the disease. There are four stages. Below is a handy chart! If you ever have to deal with a dog with heartworm disease, it's nice to have an idea of the lingo that is used so you can translate doctor speak in your head.

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So Mila had:
  • bloodwork done
  • x-rays
  • a medical exam  
The good news is that she looks like a Level 1 case.
Other tests that could be done to stage:
  • A Knott's test could have been done too to look for microfilaria. The microfilaria are the baby worms. 
  • A urinalysis could have also been done to gain more information, but based on what we had, we did not do that. She had a urinalysis done a couple of months before her treatment started.
  • Echocardiography

X-ray for staging Mila
Next time - that complicated life cycle thing. Thanks for reading and feel free to ask any questions, make any comments.

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