“Bless Their Hearts” – Become a Bless Their Hearts Benefactor Today!
About the Bless Their Hearts Fund
Down here in Burke County, you will often hear folks say, “Bless your heart.” For instance, if your dog were to come down with heartworm disease because you didn’t know he needed a monthly pill to prevent infection, one might respond with “Bless Your Heart” to indicate empathy and regret.
Old Fella’s Bless Their Hearts fund is our way to express our regret about rescue dogs who have heartworm disease, but also to raise the money to treat them!
On average, Old Fella will spend $350 to treat a heartworm positive dog. For this reason, we require people wishing to surrender adult dogs to take the animal to the vet for a simple blood test to look for the presence of heartworms. While Old Fella does accept heartworm positive dogs into our rescue programs, we are financially limited by the number of such animals we can accept at any one time.
To allow Old Fella to save the lives of more adult dogs infected with heartworm, we ask you to become a Bless Their Hearts Benefactor. Your tax-deductible donation, earmarked to Bless Their Hearts, will be spent exclusively on the cost of treatment of heartworm positive Old Fella fosters.
Past Bless Their Hearts Beneficiaries:
How You Can Help:
Mail your tax-deductible donation to: Old Fella PO Box 1437, Waynesboro, GA 30830, indicating “Bless Their Hearts” in the Memo line of your check.
Donate via PayPal and then send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Bless Their Hearts” and email body indicating your name, address, and amount donated.
Purchase Heartworm Disease educational brochures, Client Brochure: Heartworm Disease in Dogs and have these brochures mailed to Old Fella PO Box 1437, Waynesboro, GA 30830.
If you are a pet owner, you should know where heartworms come from and how to prevent your pet from becoming infected. Prevention is simple. Please protect your pet today!
What is Heartworm Disease?
Heartworm Prevention Medications
Heartworm is a parasitic worm that lives in the arteries and heart of your dog. Each year in the United States some 250,000 dogs get heartworm. Heartworm is a devastating disease that can kill your dog, and the treatment, while usually successful, is a grueling experience that involves keeping your dog locked up for 6 weeks or more. The sad fact about these statistics is that heartworm is preventable.
Heartworm is caused by a parasite that scientists have given the obscure name Dirofilaria immitis that is found pretty much in the entire United States. This is a worm that lives primarily in the right side of the heart, giving the disease its name. Heartworm starts with a bite from an infected mosquito. The bite of the mosquito injects several heartworm larvae into the bloodstream of the dog, and they begin a process of maturation. Over a period that lasts about 4-6 months, the heartworm larvae develop into small adult worms which can live in a dog for a period of up to 7 years.
Once they reach adult form, the heartworms move into a vein and head straight for the heart. There they become able to reproduce, getting ready for the next stage in the heartworm life cycle-you guessed it-this stage is having babies. A female heartworm can give birth to 5,000 young per day which circulate in the bloodstream of an infected dog. They can do so for up to 3 years!
Heartworm Disease and Symptoms
In most cases heartworm disease doesn't exhibit too many symptoms. Early signs of heartworm disease may include a soft cough and a dog that tires easily after exercise. In an advanced case, the large heartworm burden causes a lot of problems. You might have a dog that faints, shows signs of weight loss, and coughs up blood. An advanced case can lead to a condition called congestive heart failure that can kill the dog.
Testing for Heartworm
Since most dogs don't show symptoms, and most that do have mild symptoms that could be mistaken for something else, the only way to diagnose the condition is with a heartworm test. You should have all of your dogs tested for heartworm once a year. This is done with a simple blood test.
Treatment for Heartworm
Based on the results of these tests, your veterinarian will prescribe a treatment for your dog involving harsh but necessary heartworm medicine. This treatment begins with an injection of medication designed to kill the heartworms. It is given in the muscle. The drug kills the worms, and unfortunately this process may lead to complications. The dead worms can circulate into the ends of the pulmonary arteries, where they can cause a pulmonary embolism. This is a condition whereby blood flow is blocked in the lungs, and it can lead to death.
Generally you will have to keep your dog resting in a confined space such as a dog crate for a period of about 6 weeks or 42 days. If the dog stays resting and confined he is much less likely to have complications from the treatment. This allows the body to break down the heartworms after they die, and avoid having pieces of dead heartworm end up in the terminal pulmonary arteries where they can cause problems.
The third week after the initial treatment can be the worst period, and unfortunately many dog owners let their guard down. They feel guilty keeping their dog confined for such a long period, the dog seems OK, and they let the dog out for some exercise and then an embolism results. If your dog is undergoing heartworm treatment don't fall into this trap. Keep him confined for the entire 6 week period. Once the treatment is over, you can gradually resume exercise and activity with your dog.
The best and easiest way to deal with heartworm is to prevent it in the first place. A dog which tests negative should be put on a preventative medication. It has been found that heartworm preventatives are 99% effective. In fact, the missing 1% actually results from dog owners missing a dose or giving the medication irregularly. If you stick to a dosage schedule and give your dog a correct dose, chances are nearly 100% he will not become infected. One popular preventative on the market is called Heartgard (ivermectin/pyrantel). This is given to your dog once a month. It resembles a kind of meaty dog treat, and most dogs eat it without hesitation. In addition to preventing heartworm, it treats and prevents other worms, so its a good medication to have your dogs on. It may save their lives and its very easy to administer. If your dog does test positive for heartworm and is treated, he will have to be on heartworm medication for the rest of his life. But start now, and get your dog on preventative before he has a chance of becoming infected.