Wednesday, April 21, 2010
April is HEARTWORM PREVENTION MONTH!!
This month is devoted to preventing a VERY serious and VERY preventable disease called HEARTWORMS that our dogs suffer from when their owners do NOT use monthly Heartworm Preventative.
Heartworm disease is very serious for your Akita to deal with. Its becoming more and more prevelant as owners are looking for ways to cut costs due to financial issues -- medicines like this are the first to go when the budget gets tighter. But if you live in a heartworm-ridden area like the Northeast or the South, you absolutely cannot forgo Heartworm Preventative given monthly!!
Read the following websites -- there is a LOT of good information on each site and they will help you understand this disease a bit better and why its important that you prevent it from happening to your Akita.
Heartworm infection in the dog induces or may induce pulmonary endothelial damage, villous proliferation, and activation and attraction of leukocytes and platelets due to live worms as well as thrombosis, granulomatous, and villous inflammation due to dead and/or dying worms. Microfilariae appear in circulation 6 to 7 months after introduction of infective larvae. Infection and successful development of heartworm larvae in mosquitoes is dependent on mosquito feeding habits, mosquito longevity, and ambient temperatures. Heartworm infection and/or disease is confirmed or ruled out using laboratory tests, radiography, echocardiography, and/or electrocardiography. These tests may also be used to identify appropriate therapies, monitor the course of the infection or disease, and determine the success of any treatment.
HWs can be prevented. Sadly too many people fail to keep their pets on monthly HW preventative which puts their pets at risk. The American Heartworm Society conducted nationwide surveys of heartworm test results from veterinary clinics in calendar years 2001, 2004, and 2007. Results of these surveys indicated that heartworm infections now occur in areas where they were not previously recognized and some endemic areas are reporting higher numbers of heartworm-positive dogs. And as rescue groups bring in dogs from areas other than their own on a weekly/monthly basis, we are seeing the number of HW positive dogs growing for that reason also. Areas that never had HW previously, now have it in their areas, along with many other diseases we never saw before in certain areas.
In the old days, there was a daily HW medicine known by its trade name of Filarabits or DEC which was Diethylcarbamazine, very easy to use, easy to remember -- you feed your dog daily, you give him the pill daily. But for some reason, they stopped manufacturing the daily medicine and now its only monthly medicine. Personally I wish the daily were still in use, as I preferred it and liked how it worked. However, monthly is now the standard so we use the monthly medicine. ARWNY recommends INTERCEPTOR for Akitas.
Many breeders, to save costs, use the horse wormer Ivermectin. However, there can be very serious side effects of using this wormer due to the inconsistencies of giving the proper measurements needed and the fact that it was never developed for use in DOGS. Its a horse wormer, period. To be safe, use the medicine developed for dogs only -- use Interceptor.
The Akita pictured above came to us with Heartworms, her name is Sacha. She is currently being treated at Willingboro Veterinary Hospital and will be completely healthy when her treatment is completed. The Akita she came in with, Bear, also has Heartworms and also is being treated. Treatment is close to $500 per dog. You can imagine the drain on a rescue group's finances when they have to treat dogs over and over for Heartworms as they come to us. If everyone that owned a dog would simply prevent this disease -- everyone would be better off. The dogs wouldn't suffer, rescue groups wouldn't operate in the red for lack of funds due to treating HW positive rescue dogs, and if the owners keep the Akita safe, they will never have to spend so much money for treatments like this themselves. We get emails asking us to take on an Akita due to it being HW positive by owners who can't afford or aren't willing to spend the money to treat the HW -- had they just kept their Akita on the monthly HW medicine to begin with, it wouldn't be an issue!!
If money is the reason you are skipping or considering skippping your Akita's monthly HW medicines -- consider this instead: Skip that daily coffee at some speciality shop, or skip eating out & cook at home one more night every week, or stop smoking & save your cigarette money, or shop at Target or Walmart instead of department stores, or buy your clothes at TJ Maxx instead of from some designer store -- do anything to save yourself at least $40 per month so you can keep on buying monthly Heartworm medicine for your Akita -- it saves you more money all the way around in addition to keeping your Akita safe!!