Read about Sam’s story and help raise awareness about heartworm disease. Heartworm disease is life-threatening, difficult to treat, and is present in our area. Numbers of affected pets across the country steadily increases each year. Click here to view the American Heartworm Society’s Heartworm Incidence Maps. Heartworm disease is transmitted by mosquitos carrying the microscopic heartworm larvae. Mosquitos are tougher than a lot of us think and can thrive even in cold or dry areas. As the disease develops in pets, adult heartworms can grow 10 to 12 inches in length and make their home in the right side of the heart and lungs. Giving your pet a monthly preventative for heartworm and intestinal parasites is like buckling your seat belt each time you drive in you car. It is a relatively simple measure that can prevent a considerable amount of damage. Annual heartworm testing is recommended in order to verify that prevention is working properly or diagnose an infection so that treatment can begin promptly.

We diagnosed Sam, a local dog from Simi Valley, with heartworm disease last September. Sam had formerly lived in northern California and was on a diligent regimen of off-brand monthly heartworm prevention. Despite this, his heartworm test came back positive and we confirmed the diagnosis with additional testing. Ultrasound showed that Sam had heartworms in his pulmonary artery.

Sam HW tx

We began treatment with the only FDA approved adulticide used to treat heartworm infestations. This medication is sometimes difficult to acquire given the national demand for it. It also can cause side-effects. Sam received a series of three injections over the span of a little more than a month. During his treatment Sam experienced varying degrees of inappetence, lethargy, and diarrhea. It is extremely important that a patient’s blood pressure is not elevated during heartworm treatment and for a considerable period afterwards. An elevation in blood pressure can be life-threatening as the dying heartworm could cause a blockage in a major artery. In light of this, Sam was limited to very strict confinement for two and a half months which was just as difficult on his mom than it was on him, if not more.

We want to strengthen and lengthen the bond between you and your pet. Please consider heartworm testing and prevention. Also, contact our hospital for promotions surrounding National Heartworm Awareness Month.