The Good, the Bad & the Preventable
I came from a state that had one of highest infection rates of canine heartworm disease in the country. Heartworm disease in dogs is transmitted by the mosquito, and mosquitoes love warm temperatures and an abundance of water. There were times when nearly half of all the stray dogs rescued by my former Humane Society in Fort Myers tested positive for heartworms.
It was with great pleasure to learn that heartworms are not nearly as prevalent in North Carolina. But that doesn’t mean the disease does not exist here. It does. In the first six months of 2014, CHHS has rescued four dogs who have tested positive for heartworms. While four cases of heartworm disease may not be the hundreds I used to see in Florida, for any animal lover four dogs with heartworms is four too many.
Tiger is one of those four dogs. He is the Good Tiger.
Tiger, a one-year-old male American Pit Bull Terrier/Boxer mix, got his name from his beautiful and uncommon brindle markings. He was rescued by CHHS in April when found as a stray and brought to our no-kill shelter. Tiger is one sweet, affectionate bundle of unconditional love. He loves every visitor to the shelter, is completely housetrained, and this young man loves playing in the water and going on car rides. He would make an ideal addition to any family with an active lifestyle, but they must keep in mind Tiger still has about four weeks left of “low-activity” as part of his complete recovery from heartworms.
Heartworm disease is treatable, but the treatment isn’t cheap, and the recovery time (referred to as “low activity”) for the dog can be several months. Treatment for an advanced case of heartworms can cost hundreds of dollars, but yet a monthly preventative to protect your pet from fleas, ticks, worms and numerous other parasites is only $10-15 per month. Ask your veterinarian for the preventative they recommend to best protect your pet.
My oldest Husky Kodi was heartworm positive when I adopted him. Try telling a dog whose ancestors were bred for 3,000 years to pull and run that the next 4-6 months of his life would be “low activity”. I wouldn’t wish those months on any canine or their human companion, but we got through it. Ten to fifteen dollars a month is a small price to pay to prevent that from happening.
Now for the Bad Tiger.
The Asian tiger mosquito (named for its striped markings) is in North Carolina. This insect entered the United States in the 1980’s inside a shipment of used tires from Japan. Like its American counterparts, this mosquito can transmit heartworm disease from one canine to another. The best preventative measure to reduce the threat of Asian tiger mosquitos is a process called “Tip and Toss”. Tip over any object around your home (cans, buckets or other containers) that can collect standing water. Mosquito eggs are hatched in standing, stagnant water, including unclean and clogged gutters.
We’re not sure if our beloved Tiger was bitten as a stray by the Asian tiger mosquito, but it’s for certain this brave young dog was bitten by some kind of mosquito who previously bit another heartworm-positive canine. It happens that easily. And it’s even easier to prevent.