The recent rain has created a potentially deadly problem for your pets. WJBF News Channel Six's Dee Griffin talked with a local Vet about ways to the illness before it becomes deadly.
More rain means more mosquitoes which means more cases of heartworm. Now is the time to take precautions so these dog days of summer won't turn deadly for man's best friend.
"After I cut the grass today I'm gonna spray the yard down with mosquito killer and try to knock some of them out," says dog owner Richard Wessman. He is taking extra precautions to protect his dog Ginger from a potentially deadly problem that isn't seen but felt.
Each year, heartworm attacks thousands of dogs here in the Southeast. Wessman's former dog fought a long, hard battle with heartworm.. But he stocks up on medicine taking steps to make sure Ginger doesn't have to deal with that war. "I usually get either three or six months at a time. It costs a lot so I've been doing three months," Wessman says.
"It's an endemic disease. In other words it lives here all the time. It's transmitted by mosquitos. So when our mosquito population goes up we see more heartworms," explains Dr. Katrea Howard of the Aidmore Animal Clinic. She says the disease doesn't discriminate.. It affects dogs of all sizes and breeds.
Dog owners will notice more playful dogs becoming very tired easily.. Also coughs are signs that heartworms may have invaded a dog's body. Vets say one pill a month could protect man's best friend from his or her worst enemy. Dr. Howard says, "the way heartworm preventatives work is they actually work backward. They kill all of the microflaria that a dog picks up from the last 30 days. So that's why you don't want to miss your heartworm preventative every month."
Richard Wessman says he doesn't mind making a small investment to guarantee a longer life for Ginger. He says, "just like you spend everything you can on medicine to keep your baby alive or keep your kid same with the dog. If it can save them it's worth it."
Dr. Howard says it usually takes six months for heartworms to develop from the time of infection. So, animals that are infected now may not show signs until January. That's why it's important to get heartworm medicine right now.