It only takes one bite
By Lena Hart, Marketing & Event Planning Manager, Suncoast Humane Society
Heartworm disease is a terrible thing to stand in the way of a pet having the possibility of a second chance at life and a forever family and home.
This progressive and potentially fatal disease is diagnosed in all 50 states, and no, your dog cannot “outrun” a mosquito! A mosquito that bites an infected animal picks up baby worms. It only takes 10-14 days for these worms to mature into infective larvae, which are transmitted when that mosquito bites another susceptible animal. 6 months later the larvae develop into adult heartworms, and can then live for 5-7 years in dogs. These foot-long worms live in the heart, lungs and blood vessels causing damage to body organs, heart failure, and lung disease.
Dogs are natural hosts for heartworms, making it easy for larvae to develop and multiply into hundreds in less than a year. If the thought of this terrifies you, you’ll be relieved to know that heartworm disease can be prevented and treated if detected in time. All dogs that come into Suncoast Humane Society’s care are tested for heartworm disease. If they test positive, they receive necessary treatment prior to being placed for adoption.
Curing heartworm disease can cost $250-$500 per dog, making it one of the reasons many shelters don’t offer treatment for this fatal disease, and only take in select surrendered animals. Suncoast Humane Society is one of Florida’s few open admissions animal shelters, which means all animals are accepted regardless of health, temperament, age, size or breed.
For example, Lilith, a loving 2-year-old Great Pyrenees came to Suncoast Humane Society as a stray. She was found in a neighborhood by a kind person who took her in and gave her a much needed bath. While waiting to be claimed, Lilith tested positive for heartworm disease and received the treatment she needed in order to have a second chance at a happy and healthy life. Lilith’s original owner never came forth to claim her, but fortunately, Lilith became adoptable after the waiting period, and was soon on her way to her new forever home, heartworm-free.
Heartworm disease is preventable but only if you, as a responsible pet owner, take the proper steps to protect your pet. Talk to your veterinarian about heartworm testing and prevention options or make an appointment at Suncoast Humane Society’s Preventive Health Care Clinic by calling 941-474-7884.
If you’re interested in contributing toward heartworm treatment and be a part of many pets’ second chances at life, keep an eye out for Suncoast Humane Society’s annual “Have a Heart” campaign, kicking off on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2020. For more information about Suncoast Humane Society’s programs, services and adoptable animals, please visit www.humane.org.