Heartworm test discounts offered

Published 8:42 pm Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Four local veterinary clinics are offering discounts on heartworm tests for dogs next week in observance of National Heartworm Awareness Month.

From April 14-17, a different clinic will offer discounts each day. These will be held at Cox Veterinary Hospital (April 14), Forrest Veterinary Clinic (April 15), Pet Haven Veterinary Hospital (April 16), and Blue Bonnet in Jemison (April 17).

It is recommended that all dogs older than 5 months get tested annually for heartworms. If the tests are negative, a dog should be placed on a preventive program. If the tests are positive, treatment is urgent but never taken lightly.

“Although easy to prevent, heartworm disease continues to be a major health problem for dogs living in the U.S. and throughout the temperate and tropical regions of the world,” stated a press release from the American Heartworm Society.

The average number of heartworm cases reported locally falls between 25 and 50 cases per year, according to the society. The latest available figures are from 2005.

Mosquitoes carry the disease in the form of microscopic heartworm larvae. After a mosquito bites an infected animal, the larvae develop inside the mosquito between 10-14 days. If the mosquito then bites another animal, the larvae are deposited onto the animal and can enter the bloodstream.

Heartworm has been called an “invisible disease” because dogs can be infected for years before symptoms develop. Common misconceptions are that inside dogs cannot catch the disease, or that it cannot be transmitted during winter. The fact is that all dogs are susceptible to heartworm, especially in the South.

Veterinarians say prevention is the best approach to protecting your dog from heartworm.

“All approved heartworm preventives are highly effective, safe, easy to use, relatively inexpensive, and often provide treatment for additional parasites,” the press release stated. “Prevention is always safer and more affordable than treating dogs with adult heartworm infections.”

Treatment typically lasts four to six weeks and can lead to serious health concerns. For this reason, veterinarians typically spend much time educating pet owners on the subject.

For more information about heartworm, call your participating clinic.