Ray recently had his annual medical, and all the testing proved very good as he was declared to be in “excellent health”! It will be very difficult (probably impossible) to erase the experience of working with Ray during his heartworm treatment program (full story is in his book “Who Said I was up for Adoption?” – click book cover over in right side column for more information). Below is a copy of a March 2015 Post about Ray’s heartworm experience stressing the importance of preventative treatment.
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In March of last year, we were advised that Ray’s final blood test confirmed his treatment for heartworm (the previous summer) had been successful, which meant that there was no evidence of any microscopic “babes” in his system.
That whole episode in Ray’s life was a very emotional roller coaster for us, and it was exacerbated by the apparent disbelief with which other dog owners (and even vet technicians) responded to it. It was not that they were unsympathetic, but more just totally surprised because, after all, “heartworm is a rarity around here.” A few phone calls to other vets in our general area provided information to the contrary and in fact one office had recorded 30 cases to date for that season!
Some basic research made it clear that, while regular monitoring for statistical purposes was non-existent, incidents of heartworm in Southern Ontario had increased by 60% between 2002 and 2010. This seemed to be generally attributed to a couple of circumstances, the main one being the “It’s not likely to happen to my pet” thinking. The other factor was the influx of rescued dogs from the southern U.S. and other locations where mosquitoes thrived all year.
As a basic “primer” in heartworm, it must be understood that because it is spread by mosquitoes, you only need one animal (domestic or wild) to have it in order for the condition to be spread. Domestic dogs and cats, together with a range of wild animals, are all targets for a heartworm implant by a passing mosquito so having a potential donor in any area that supports mosquitoes is quite likely.
The mosquito finds a lovely warm body for the microscopic heartworm babe to grow, which it does by living off its unknowing host. Over a relatively short period of time, the heartworm population grows with adults reaching the size of spaghetti strings, and are forced to spread out to other parts of the host. The end result is a slow and painful death if left untreated.
I felt that pet owners in our general area needed a “wake up call” on the issue. While mosquitoes around here are only active for around 6 months of the year, it still presents a significant risk and I consequently created a short video (starring the beloved Ray) which was adopted by our vet for heartworm prevention promotional purposes. For those of you who are not familiar with the condition, I hope that the video is informative.
The reference to NOAH in the video is the North Oakville Animal Hospital. All the staff there have done a wonderful job of taking care of our Ray from before, during, and after the heartworm episode.