Wednesday, January 18

Have a Heart!

In recent years, FBRN has seen an influx of dogs with varying degrees of heartworm infestation. Most of these cases were strays from Texas and puppy mill dogs from Missouri. Most recently, FBRN took in Emeril, a dog with such advanced heartworm his abdomen is distended from built-up fluids. Though he looks great in this video, the outlook for Emeril is very bleak. He is a hospice case, and he will live with us until the parasites kill him. Cajun and Alabaster are also terminal hospice heartworm dogs. Aiyana and Can Can are on their second rounds of treatment. Sybhan is on her first round of treatment in foster care. Dulcinea was successfully treated and is now on our available page.
Heartworm is carried by mosquitoes. It’s especially prevalent along the coasts, waterways, and in warm parts of the country, where mosquitoes live year round. 
Most caring dog owners who live in heartworm country already know about heartworm prevention. 

Dulcinea out and about in the backyard. 

We want to be sure that everyone knows about it. Virtually the entire US, and even lower Canada and Alaska, has seen cases of heartworm. Wherever there are mosquitoes, there’s the risk of heartworm. Think your dog doesn’t spend enough time outdoors to be at risk? If you have slapped a mosquito while barbecuing in your backyard or you’ve been kept awake by the buzz of a mosquito in your ear on summer nights, your dog is at risk. Don’t be complacent; at the risk of preaching to the choir, it’s your responsibility to safeguard your pet’s health.

Please, call your vet and ask about heartworm preventatives. If your dog isn’t already on prevention, test to be sure your dog doesn’t have heartworms already, then give the medicine as your vet recommends. Heartworm prevention costs about $6 a month. 

Alabaster patrols the grounds!

Prevention is especially important, because heartworm treatment for dogs who have already been infected is dangerous to the dog. The worms living in the dog’s pulmonary arteries are killed and their bodies decompose and travel through the dog’s system before being eliminated.

Can Can would like to know who you are looking at.

As you can imagine, fragments of worm carcass can create problems of their own as they move through your dog’s body. Not to mention that the treatment is very toxic and the dog must endure crate rest for long periods. 

Because the treatment is effective only for the worms in the final stages, and doesn’t affect the larval stages of the worms, it’s not uncommon for the treatment to have to be repeated, as in the case of fosters Can Can and Aiyana. And when heartworm is advanced, as in Emeril’s case, treatment is useless, because the damage to the heart is irreversible. 
Currently we have half a dozen dogs in our care in varying stages of heartworm infestation and heartworm treatment. We test every incoming dog for the disease, because Frenchies are generally a bit less active than most breeds, so the symptoms of moderate to advanced heartworm infestation—exercise intolerance, coughing on exertion, wheezing, etc.—aren’t always apparent. At your dog’s annual check up, your vet will probably recommend a heartworm test, even if your dog is on the preventative. We recommend that you test your dog for heartworm every year. 

Heartworm treatment wears poor Aiyana out 

Heartworm is preventable. That’s the reason we are so frustrated to see so many cases and why Emeril’s case is so tragic. Please be sure your dogs are on heartworm preventative. And tell your friends.
For more information on heartworm, please visit the American Heartworm Association website:

(This information first appeared as a home page on our website 1/4/2012)

1 comment:

Two French Bulldogs said...

Kudos FBRN and thank you for spreading the word about the preventatives. Paws crossed for all those babies
Benny & Lily