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HEARTWORM

SHRF feels very strongly about the use of a Heartworm preventative and all foster/adoption applicants must agree to use a Heartworm medication on any SHRF dog fostered or adopted. SHRF may occasionally request fosters/adopters to show proof of purchase and use.

The following is an excerpt from an August 2005 American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) paper titled:

What you should know about heartworm disease

Heartworm disease is a preventable, but serious and potentially fatal, parasitic disease that primarily affects dogs, cats and ferrets. It also infects wild animals such as foxes, wolves, coyotes, and California Sea Lions. There are documented human infections, but they are thought to be rare and do not result in clinical disease.

How is heartworm disease transmitted and what does it cause?

Heartworms are transmitted from animal to animal by mosquitoes. When an animal is bitten by an infected mosquito, young heartworms (called microfilariae) are transmitted to that animal. In about two weeks, the microfilaria develop into larvae. The larvae, as they mature, move through the animal's body and eventually enter the heart and blood vessels. Over the next several months, the growing heartworms reach adult size (female worms can reach up to 14 inches in length) and reproduce. In time, the worms cause injury to the pulmonary vessels and heart. This can lead to severe lung disease, heart disease and damage to other organs. Heartworms may survive for 5 to 7 years in dogs.

Where is heartworm disease found?

Geographically, heartworms are a potential threat in every state except Alaska, as well as in many other countries around the world. All dogs, regardless of age, sex, or living environment, are susceptible to heartworm infection. Indoor, as well as outdoor, cats are also at risk for the disease. If you plan to travel with your dog or cat to a different part of the country, ask your veterinarian about the risk of heartworm disease in the area where you are going to relocate or visit.

NOTE: Since the weather must be warm enough to allow heartworm larval development within a mosquito, Florida's climate makes the risk of heartworm in your dog a year round problem. Even skipping one month's treament may place your dog in jeopardy.

How can I tell if my pet has heartworm disease?

If your dog has been recently or mildly infected with heartworms, it may initially show no signs of disease. However, as the disease progresses, your dog may cough, become lethargic, lose its appetite or have difficulty breathing. You may notice that your dog seems to tire rapidly after only moderate exercise.

Your veterinarian will test your dog's blood for the presence of adult heartworms. Further tests, such as chest x-rays and an echocardiogram, may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis and to help determine the severity of the infection.

How can my pet be treated?

As with most medical problems, the best defense is prevention. However, if your dog is infected with heartworms, there is an FDA-approved treatment available. Although there is some risk involved in treating a dog for heartworms, serious complications are rare among dogs that are otherwise in good health and if the disease is detected early.

The goal of heartworm treatment is to kill the adult worms that are present in your dog's body. While your dog is hospitalized and for a period of time afterwards, it will require complete rest and may need additional medications to help limit inflammatory reaction as the worms die and are absorbed by the body.

Can heartworms be surgically removed?

Some veterinarians are equipped for surgical removal of heartworms from dogs and/or cats. This procedure, however, is typically reserved for severe cases.

Can heartworm disease be prevented?

Heartworm disease is almost 100% preventable in dogs and cats. There are several FDA-approved heartworm preventives available in a variety of formulations. Your veterinarian can recommend the best method of prevention based upon your pet's risk factors and lifestyle.

A blood test for existing heartworm infection is recommended before beginning a prevention program to confirm that your pet is not already infected with the disease. In addition, annual re-testing is recommended to check your pet's status and ensure that the appropriate medication is being prescribed.

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FOSTER ALERT!

We are in desperate need of Foster homes to help save more Siberians from neglect, abuse, abandonment and illness. We can not save these precious fur balls without your help. If you can open your heart and home to just one fur ball you can make a difference! By becoming a Foster you are not only saving a life, you are helping give a Siberian a chance at a new home...a new life! Can you look into this fur babies eyes and not want to help? Click HERE to find out more!

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