April is Heartworm Awareness Month

What is heartworm disease?

Heartworm is a serious and potentially fatal disease that can be found in dogs, cats, and other animals. However, it is notably more common in dogs. Heartworm is caused when an animal is bitten by an affected mosquito, allowing for the mosquito to transmit parasitic worms, formally known as Dirofilaria immitis (Heartworm). The worms are then transmitted to the animal’s bloodstream, introducing great risk to their health. At HSLM, it is not uncommon to receive a dog with a disease such as this. And when we do, you bet we will do everything we can to ensure proper treatment for the best possible recovery.

Meet Mia, a two-year-old German Shepherd.

Upon her surrender on May 13th, 2023, Mia, who was just a one-year-old puppy at the time, was diagnosed with Heartworm disease.

She began treatment straight away. Mia was placed in a foster home, allowing her to heal in a comfortable, loving environment. However, after her treatment was complete, she was still testing positive for Heartworm. Because of this, we had to wait another one to two months to conduct another blood test.

Finally, Mia tested negative for Heartworm. After nearly a year of being in our care and fighting off this nasty disease, she is now healthy and almost ready for adoption.

Your pets’ health and safety should always come first. So how can you prevent this from happening to your furry companion?

  1. Make sure your pet is scheduled for annual veterinary check ups. Proper communication and visits with your vet can allow for early detection of the disease and speedy treatment.
  2. Make sure your pet has the necessary heartworm prevention medications. You can ask your vet which medication would be best for your pet. This medication, in the long run, will not only save you from expensive treatment costs, but it might just save your pet’s life.
  3. Try to familiarize yourself with the symptoms associated with heartworm.

Early symptoms of heartworm:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Coughing
  • Mobility issues

Advanced symptoms can include:

  • Swollen belly
  • Dark- coloured urine
  • Scar tissue in lungs
  • Anemia
  • Muscle atrophy
  • Fluid in lungs
  • Heart failure

It is thanks to our loyal donors that we are able to provide care for animals like Mia. If you haven’t already, please join our group of heroes and become a PAW monthly donor today!

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