Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Day for Celebration!!

There are 3 very important days in a HOTLR rescue dog's life. They are as follows:

1) The day they are pulled from the shelter and are officially accepted into the Heart of Texas Labrador adoption program.

2) The day they are chosen by their forever families and leave us for their new lives healthy, happy and whole.

3) The day they complete their heartworm treatment.

On each of these days, I find myself saying the same thing to each of them....."Today is the day you begin the rest of your life." And today is a very special day for me. Because my foster Tango, who is now my very own adopted boy, is finally free for the first time in his life. He is now considered "heartworm negative".

Every dog owner should know just how deadly heartworms can be. Their name alone can conjure up shivers of disgust and well it should. These worms that are carried by mosquitos live and breed inside the heart and lungs of the dog. Dogs with heartworms may have a mild cough, are exercise intolerant, and seem lethargic and unwilling to play, however, in early stages of the disease, dogs may exhibit no signs at all. The most critical aspect of heartworm disease is death of the infected animal.

Heartworm treatment is expensive (costing anywhere from $500 - $1000) and takes around 8 weeks to complete. It also is very hard on your dog. Your dog will undergo a series of chest xrays to determine the severity of the heartworm disease. He will also be placed on antibiotics and steroids to fight infection and inflammation for the duration of the eight week treatment period. Your dog will be administered an injection of an "adulticide" into the muscles surrounding his spine. The injection is very, very painful and as the medication begins to kill the worms your dog will feel very ill.

For the next four weeks, your dog will not be able to participate in any exercise and will be only allowed leash walks for "elimination" purposes. Should your dog participate in any cardiovascular exercise, the dying worms could potentially cause a clot in the heart or lungs which could be fatal to your dog.

After the first four week period, the process starts all over again, with back to back injections over a two day period to kill any remaining worms. Again, your dog will be required four weeks of steroids, antibiotics and cage rest as the remaining worms die. Because the injections only kill adult worms, in the meantime, you will also be required to give your dog heartworm preventative that will kill off any of the baby worms.

The only guaranteed way to prevent heartworm disease is to give your dog a monthly preventative prescribed by your veterinarian. There are a few different brands on the market. Some kill other parasites and/or fleas along with the heartworms. Your veterinarian will be best suited to recommend which preventative is right for your dog.

Many dog owners are under the false impression that during the winter months, it is not necessary to give dogs heartworm preventative as mosquitos seem to disappear. But we live in Texas with a mild temperate climate year around, that means heartworm preventative is a must year around. Your dog should receive heartworm preventative every single month of each year.

For more information on heartworm disease, treatment and prevention, check out the American Heartworm Society.

So, today was definitely a day of celebration for Tango. He had endured and survived heartworm treatment. I loaded him into the 4-Runner and took him to Bark 'n Purr on Burnet Rd. Once inside, we took our time..... we chatted with some other customers and we looked at EVERYTHING....TWICE....Tango became so exhausted from our shopping spree that he even decided to nap on the store floor while I sweated over just the right collar for him. (He has a matching handmade leash and collar coming from our friends at Lucky Fiona for special occasions, but he also needed a collar for everyday wear.) I finally decided on two different collars in shades of red. We'd let the cashier make the final choice. He also received his very own Huck ball by Westpaw Design. Now, and forever, he can chase all the balls he wants....


  1. Yay for Tango!!!!!

  2. Thanks for supporting the Bozeman, Montana economy by getting the Huck. Westpaw is a Bozeman company ;)