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Silent and Dangerous

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Heartworm Disease in Dogs

[/trx_title][trx_title type=”4″ align=”center” color=”#434544″ weight=”700″ bottom=”mini”]by Dr. Eileen Savier CVA, CVCH[/trx_title][vc_column_text]

Last week I was in the middle of an annual wellness exam, the pet appeared great and the owner had no concerns. As part of the yearly annual exams, a Heartworm 4DX test was run to check the pets status. It was positive…two separate test in the office were positive. This particular pet had not been on heartworm prevention. Her owner felt that the thick undercoat her German Shepherd was enough to protect her from this disease. We also tested the other pet who was thankfully negative at the time of testing, but we will not be 100% sure the pet is not infected for another six months. There is a blind spot in testing dogs for heartworm disease, because of the lifecycle a second negative test is required six months later to ensure the pet is truly negative. For this pet, we started monthly prevention and will re-test in six months.

As for the pet that tested positive, we submitted confirmatory testing to the lab to ensure that the results we have a real. Treating heartworm disease is not benign – it is painful and risky for the pet and it is very expensive for the owners.

Treatment is spread out over several months, starting with heartworm prevention, antibiotics, and steroids. This is followed by painful injections that are given in the hospital that will kill the adult worms. Three injections are required to complete treatment. Following each injection is a strict requirement for confinement and bed rest. As the adult worm die, they can become lodged in the vessels causing either embolisms. These events can also be life threatening and the risk increases with the amount of exercise offered.

It’s heart breaking every time I have to treat a new patient as this disease is preventable.  I know there is hesitation regarding giving pets medication but there are so many safe options available- talk to your veterinarian to find an option that works well for you and your pet. Sometimes concurrent diseases can affect medication choice so it is important to talk to your veterinarian. It is equally important to report any adverse events (vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, seizures, etc) that your pet may experience with your veterinarian.

It is also important to understand that heart worms are not the same type of parasites that we look for in feces- they live in vessels. It is equally important to understand what type of parasites the prevention you use kills. There is no over the counter heartworm prevention only varying flea and tick preventions.

I feel like I am a broken record in saying this but it bears repeating, please keep your pup protected from heart worm disease year round!

Happy holidays –

Dr. Eileen[/vc_column_text][/trx_section][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css=”.vc_custom_1533135180690{margin-top: 40px !important;}”][vc_column css=”.vc_custom_1533134942241{background-color: #d9ae4c !important;}”][trx_title type=”2″ align=”left” color=”#f6f2e4″ left=”20″ right=”20″]About Dr. Eileen Savier[/trx_title][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1533135315368{padding-right: 20px !important;padding-bottom: 30px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;}”]Dr. Eileen SavierBarks & Recreation is proud to feature Dr. Eileen Savier CVA, CVCH as our Veterinary Blogger in our “From the Vet” Series. Currently part of the team of doctors at Keystone Veterinary Clinic, Dr. Savier is a 2012 Graduate of the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine, She completed her clinical experience at The Ohio State University and after veterinary school she pursued further education and certification in Veterinary Acupuncture, Chinese Herbal Medicine, and Fear Free veterinary visits. Dr. Savier has a special interest in integrative medicine, animal behavior, and internal medicine and is committed to improving animal health care by integrating Eastern and Western philosophies. She enjoys working with fearful & aggressive dogs and cats and she has had additional training in low stress handling techniques and encourages positive reinforcement during exams and procedures. Her clinical interests include pain management, animal behavior, geriatric patient care, and internal medicine. Dr. Savier is a member of the following associations:

Dr. Savier shares her home with two (soon to be three) dogs, two cats, and a toddler. She lovingly refers to her two dogs as Coconut Retrievers as they were rescue dogs she brought home from the island of St. Kitts. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family, going to the beach, and planning her next Disney vacation.

Join us every month for Dr. Savier’s “From the Vet” series to get more information related to the health and welfare of your furry family members![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]