Heartworm cases on the rise

Published 10:13 pm Thursday, April 8, 2010

As the risk of heartworm infection in dogs continues to rise, veterinary clinics in Chilton County are banding together to make it easier for pet owners to get preventive treatment for their animals.

Forrest Veterinary Clinic, Cox Veterinary Hospital, Pet Haven Veterinary Hospital, Blue Bonnet Animal Clinic in Jemison and Chestnut Creek Animal Hospital in Verbena are offering discounts on heartworm prevention tests at the flat rate of $15.

The discounts will be offered on scheduled dates next week, from Monday, April 12 through Saturday, April 17.

The effort is being done in conjunction with National Heartworm Awareness Month, which is observed each April.

“We have seen 17 cases since January already,” said Dr. Vickie Honeycutt of Pet Haven Veterinary Hospital in Clanton.

Honeycutt explained that heartworm disease is spread through mosquitoes, and that both indoor and outdoor pets are at risk. Rainy weather like that of late makes the risk greater.

“The mosquito population thrives in the wet conditions we’ve had over the past eight to 10 months. In turn, this contributes to a rise in heartworm cases,” she said.

To make things even more critical, the drug for treatment of heartworm-positive dogs is currently unavailable. But preventive treatment is available to everyone. For this reason, annual preventive treatment is recommended for all dogs older than 5 months.

“In this scenario, an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound a cure,” Honeycutt said.

The scheduled test days for each clinic are as follows:

Forrest Veterinary Clinic: Monday and Tuesday (for more information, call 755-7775)

Cox Veterinary Hospital: Friday (for more information, call 755-1753)

Pet Haven Veterinary Hospital: Thursday (for more information, call 755-3770)

Blue Bonnet Animal Clinic: Wednesday and Saturday (for more information, call 688-3200)

Chestnut Creek Animal Hospital: Thursday (for more information, call 755-9723)

To learn more about heartworm disease and treatment, visit www.heartwormsociety.org.