Recent rains helping to breed silent killer of pets

CHATTANOOGA,Tennessee(WDEF) – Standing water from Monday night’s rain may look harmless. But it’s actually a breeding ground for heartworm carrying mosquitoes that prey on dogs and cats.

Recent downpours of heavy rain may be great for helping the grass grow as we get closer to summer. But when standing rain water is left for mosquitoes to breed, it can cause a lot of problems, especially for family pets that are susceptible to deadly heartworms that come from mosquito bites.

WDEF spoke to Dr. Randall Hammon of Northgate Animal Hospital. Dr. Hammon is one of the leading experts on heartworms. He said this is the time of year when family pets that are not on a heartworm preventative are at risk from catching heartworms.

“Within five or six months, dogs go into heart failure. With cats, it’s more of a lung event," Hammon said.

A lung event described by Hammon is fatal for cats because heartworms shut down the respiratory system in felines.

“With cats, we’ve got a really good preventative but we don’t have a treatment regime for cats; where is dogs, if they get diagnosed with heartworms, we do have a good treatment," Hammon said.

WDEF was introduced to Soup the dog. He is one of 30 canines at the Humane Educational Society of Chattanooga being treated for heartworms. HES Director Bob Citrullo said that on any given day, a heartworm positive canine is surrendered by owners who can’t afford to pay for heartworm treatment. Depending on the severity, heartworms can cost thousands of dollars to treat, but far less than $100 a month to prevent.

“And what we also hear lot is they were not familiar with heartworms and didn’t understand what they were, how it’s spread and what can do to prevent it," Citrullo said.

For dogs like Soup, the HES raises money to treat heartworms so he and other heartworm positive dogs who have been surrendered can get adopted. But Soup isn’t alone.

According to a recent study, more than 300,000 dogs each year in the U.S. die because of untreated heartworm. A vast majority of those cases are in the Southeast Region of the country.

“It’s the real deal in the Chattanooga area. It’s not something that might happen. I almost tell people that if your pet is not on a heartworm preventative and you live in this area; Chattanooga tri-state area, it’s not if your pet get heartworms, it’s just going to be when," Hammon said.

Heartworm prevention comes in both a monthly pill version and a onetime injection that can stay in your dog’s blood stream for up to 6-months.

The cost can range from $30 to $60.

The most popular preventatives on the market are:

  • Heartguard
  • Revolution
  • Nexgard

Categories: Local News

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