Friday, June 7, 2013

Prevent Heartworm to Save Your Dog's Life

INDIANAPOLIS (31 May 2013)—Each year as spring arrives, so do the bugs, particularly mosquitoes. Ants can ruin a picnic, but disease-carrying mosquitoes can negatively affect your dog’s life. Mosquitoes transmit heartworm disease. While every dog could become infected with the illness, protection is easy. Mosquitoes become carriers when they feed on a currently infected wild or domestic dog. They ingest the larva and carry it to another animal through a bite. The disease can be transmitted between dogs, but also between pets and wildlife. Mothers can pass the disease to their puppies, since the larva live in the bloodstream; however, the illness can be eliminated when the puppy is given preventative medication because the larvae must pass through a mosquito before becoming harmful.

 Heartworms are endemic in the wildlife communities—particularly fox and coyotes—which means the disease is out there and cannot be controlled; only prevented. On rare occasions, cats may become infected. Veterinarian Dr. Sandra Norman, companion animal director for the Indiana State Board of Animal Health, recommends protecting dogs through a monthly pill, which is given to the pet throughout the duration of its life. There is no vaccination. “Dog owners can also benefit by giving their pets a combmination product that treats for worms and fleas at the same time, taking care of two things at once,” added Dr. Norman.

 A veterinarian can explain all the options available. Dog owners should watch for signs of this disease if pets begin to cough, tire easily, or have exercise intolerance. That may mean a very playful dog begins to stop more often than normal while playing catch. Heartworms live in the right side of a dog’s heart, where the blood flows into the lungs. The disease can also spread to other parts of the animal’s body, such as the kidneys and liver, causing additional damage. There is a treatment for infected dogs, but the process is very taxing. A dog must be healthy and young to undergo the treatment, and even then results could be less than ideal. In the end, the damage to the internal organs has already been done.

 Without treatment, a dog will die from heart failure 2 years to 3 years after infection. Pet owners should also take steps to reduce the places around their homes where mosquitoes can grow and live. Spots where water may pool should be kept dry, such as bird baths and buckets. “Through it all, prevention by giving your pet a monthly pill is the key, and an easy way to keep your dog protected,” reminds Dr. Norman. -30-

 For additional information, contact: Denise Derrer at 317-544-2414 About the Indiana State Board of Animal Health The Indiana State Board of Animal Health (BOAH), also known as "the Office of the State Veterinarian", has primary mission areas of: animal health, food safety (Dairy, Meat and Poultry Inspection), disaster preparedness and animal care.

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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Pet Appreciation Week

This week is Pet Appreciation Week, a time set aside for pet owners to show their pets how much they mean to them. Are you doing anything special for your pet this week?