A Big Healthy Heart!
(Toopy’s success in defeating heartworm disease)
Toopy, the 2 year old Shepherd mix, travelled a long way to visit us at the South Ridge Veterinary clinic in the spring of 2015. He was a new client with lots of smiles and energy that had been rescued from the Nibinamik First Nations Reserve in Summer Beaver, Ontario which is located approximately 500 air miles north of Thunder Bay.
Toopy arrived for his annual physical exam, heartworm and lyme disease test when it was discovered that he tested positive for heartworm disease. Heartworm is a disease where worms approximately 1 foot long can live in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels of dogs and cats. When left untreated it can progress to be a fatal disease as the worms can destroy the architecture of the heart.
It was found that Toopy had not been on any heartworm prevention prior to his visit, and had spent a summer in South-Western Ontario the year before. This is where we assume he picked up the disease.
A second test was ordered at the lab to confirm his diagnosis and sadly it was positive as well. His owners did not hesitate to start treatment on this handsome man and further tests were run to stage the disease. Toopy, being so young, was very lucky, as his disease was mild. He was not showing any clinical signs such as coughing, exercise intolerance, or abnormal heart sounds but it was still recommended that he begin treatment as soon as possible to kill the adult worms living within him. To look at Toopy, you would not have noticed anything was wrong as he was bouncy, happy and eating well.
He began his treatment which included a monthly heartworm preventative product by mouth, antibiotics, steroids and pain medications. The actual drug that will kill adult heartworm is called adulticide and it is an injectable medication given deep in the back muscles. Toopy needed two of these injections and had to stay in the hospital while receiving them. As usual he had his big smile and good personality throughout the entire treatment.
This spring (March, 2016), we retested Toopy for heartworm disease at the clinic with a 4DX SNAP test and he was negative! His owners were elated and so was the entire staff at the South Ridge Clinic after all he has been through!
We are so glad that Toopy pulled through and was able to defeat his heartworm disease, but his story does show us that this disease is present in our area and very contractible. Mosquitos are the main source of the problem as they carry larvae which are baby heartworms. It is recommended that all dogs receive a yearly test to screen for heartworm and lyme disease and a monthly preventative medication which will kill any larvae deposited by mosquitos into your pet. The monthly preventatives are prescription medications that you can get from your veterinarian and can be in pill form or topical drops. Give us a call, email or stop by one of our clinics for more information on how you can protect your pets against heartworm disease.
We are so thrilled that Toopy is heartworm free, and now he will be known at our clinics as the dog with the big healthy heart!