April is Heartworm Awareness Month

The sad fact is that heartworm disease kills a great number of dogs every year. In fact, the American Heartworm Society reports that more than one million dogs currently have this disease. And, as you can see by the map below – animals in Florida are especially at risk.

Heartworm Incidence Map 2016 Final

What is Heartworm Disease

Heartworm disease is a serious disease caused by a parasitic worm called Dirofilaria immitis. The worms are spread through the bite of a mosquito. The dog is the definitive host, meaning that the worms mature into adults, mate, and produce offspring while living inside a dog. The worms are called “heartworms” because the adults live in the heart, lungs, and associated blood vessels of an infected animal. If left untreated, this disease can result in heart failure, other organ damage, and death in pets.

Heartworm disease is completely preventable with a monthly pill (such as Heartgard, Revolution, Trifexis, and others). Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for pet owners to neglect proper heartworm prevention, and there are always quite a few adoptable heartworm-positive animals at our shelter.

Thankfully, this disease is 100% treatable, and we don’t want it to deter any potential adopters. That’s why we offer free heartworm treatments to all dogs adopted through our shelter. This is made possible, in part, by a $35,000 grant given by PetSmart Charities.

Two Survivor Stories

We are fortunate to have had many successes with this treatment program. Two of them involved Tedy and Gillian, both rescued from South Korea. Humane Society International has been working in South Korea to shut down the dog meat farms. (This is the only country in the world known to solely raise dogs on intensive dog farming facilities to supply the demand for dog meat and associated products.)

During one such rescue, Humane Society International rescued approximately 200 dogs and Humane Society of Broward County received 10 of them. Tedy and Gillian came to us heartworm positive and received treatment from our organization. Both of the dogs were adopted and are now living healthy, happy lives.

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