April 28,2017

From Heartworm to Healthy

The Anti-Cruelty Society’s commitment to saving animals extends beyond the boundaries of our region to include a wide variety of communities throughout the country. We will often rescue animals from impoverished locations in states throughout the South, including saving them from overburdened shelters, or situations of abuse, abandonment, or neglect.

Although we are honored to provide unconditional compassion to more animals than ever before, the geographic variation of their home environments creates some unique challenges. Animals from southern states are prone to more diseases due to the ubiquity of mosquitoes, ticks, and other common carriers. Heartworm is particularly prevalent and poses a concern for our shelter as we try to find new and better lives for these rescued animals.
Heartworm is a serious and potentially fatal disease that is transmitted from animal to animal by mosquitoes. Upon arrival at The Anti-Cruelty Society, every animal is given a physical exam by a veterinarian and tested. If a dog tests positive, it is important to begin treatment as soon as possible.
While treating a dog for heartworm, the goal is to kill the adult worms and any larvae in the dog. It’s important to remember that while dogs are undergoing treatment, heartworms are dying inside the dog’s body. Strict exercise restriction is necessary during and after treatment to prevent extensive damage to the heart and lungs. This requires that dogs infected with heartworm stay in our care much longer than dogs without the disease. It also means that most of their time is spent in a kennel with minimal activity. This is not only difficult mentally for the dog, but creates additional work for staff and volunteers. Treatment can last several months and incurs substantial expense.
The most effective way to keep your dog heartworm-free is to visit your veterinarian annually and administer medication.
It is important to have your pet tested by your veterinarian before starting preventative treatment. Testing requires a small blood sample from your pet and looks for the presence of heartworm proteins.


The Anti-Cruelty Society is committed to helping every animal in its care, including cats and dogs infected with heartworm. With help and support from friends like you, we can continue to provide care for every pet that comes through our doors, including those with life-threatening diseases like heartworm. To help pets in our care, or to read about heartworm positive animals that have found a second start at the Society,
visit anticruelty.org.