Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard
Snow Leopard cub (7 mos old) - Cape May County Zoo

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Taking Your Dog's Heartworm Risk Seriously

I've always advocated year round heartworm prevention.  In my March 21st blog, I discussed what heartworm disease is, how dogs (and cats) get it and what excuses people have to NOT have their dog on preventative.

I was at a meeting the other night where some statistics really brought this to the forefront of my mind again. While many states (especially the drier, western states) haven't had heartworm in their mosquito populations, a little natural disaster called Katrina, has essentially brought heartworm to the entire lower 48.  

First of all, approximately 93% of dogs from New Orleans (and areas surrounding the city) ARE heartworm positive (and were at the time of Katrina). Mosquitoes thrive there and most of them ARE carrying the parasite. In addition, due to the area being generally economically depressed (for a LONG time), most people do NOT have their dogs on prevention.

There is NOT a single state or virtually any veterinary hospital that hasn't known at least one "Katrina dog" rescued by someone in their practice.  There were 80,000 dogs rescued from down there. Many of them were brought up here to the Northeast. I've seen quite a number of them over the past few years in several practices where I've worked. 

Compounding THIS entire problem is that little disease I mentioned in the blog April 8th  (that I told you WAS absolutely going to affect you as a consumer and even as a pet owner). As it turns out, a single bat can consume 800 mosquitoes PER HOUR. Yes, so multiply that by hundreds, even thousands of bats. AND now, they are saying that it is looking like we are going to lose the majority, if not ALL, of our bat population. No I am not kidding. 

So, we brought heartworm dogs up to our area (which already had some positive mosquitoes) and now we have one less predator for those nasty mosquitoes.  

The key thing on this is that in the next 5-10 yrs we can expect to see an increase in cases here as this truly becomes endemic to most areas.  

As for the felines, 90% of cats will clear the infection and never get the adult heartworms, but for those that do, sudden death can be the only "sign" - if you can call it that! Indoor kitties need to be on prevention too (do you get mosquitoes IN your house? I know I do!). My favorite product for them is Revolution - a topical once a month treatment. 

We have products that are nearly 100% effective and backed by the companies that make them.  

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