Monday, February 11, 2008
Guest Post by Foxy Wizard
Victor and Heartworms
I asked Ala if I could post this guest article about heartworms. In my humble opinion, they are the closest thing to Satan I have ever seen on this planet. If this article saves one dog’s life it will be worth it to me.
In October 2006, my daughter called me in distress. “Can you take care of my birthday dog Victor?” she asked. I accepted.
The first thing we did was take him to the vet to get his shots up to date and have him de-wormed. It took him about two weeks to work himself into our hearts. He is a special dog. He is loyal, obedient, accommodating to our 13 year old tomcat, Pouncer, and playful.
About 6 months ago, I took him in for his regular checkup. He didn’t seem to have any energy. The vet asked if I had tested him for heartworms. I had never heard of heartworms. I said: “We had him de-wormed last year, as soon as we got him.”
He said no, no, that is a completely different worm. These worms live in the pulmonary arteries and the heart. We tested him and he was positive.
Heartworms come from mosquitoes. A mosquito bites the dog, and these little microscopic worms start to work their way toward the heart. It takes them 6 months to get there. Once there, they begin to grow and reproduce. They can grow up to 2 feet long. As they reproduce, they move into the heart, clogging the arteries and keeping the heart valves from closing properly. The heart begins to swell, the red blood count goes down, and the dog gets anemic and eventually dies of a stroke or a heart attack.
The vet said I needed to have him hospitalized. They would give him a shot of arsenic. The worms would die but since they were in his arteries they needed to die slowly so his body could process the dead worms; if they died too fast, they would clog an artery and he would die of a stroke.
I had heard about this treatment; that it was very hard on the dog and even if the dog was relatively healthy he might die. At best, it would take years off his life.
I did some research on the internet and found a company, Parvo Busters, who had a treatment. They said it would remove the heartworms slowly and would be easier on the dog. We bought about $250 of medicine and started giving it to him. We thought that would be the end of it.
Last month he got very sick. He wouldn’t even eat his treats. I took him to the vet. According to Parvo Busters, he should have tested negative by now. He was heavy positive. I took him home.
The next day, when I let him out to do his business, he had blood in his urine. Alarmed, I called the vet, who said we should begin to think about euthanasia unless I was willing to take him the Texas A&M Veterinary Hospital, where they have a new procedure. I took him even though it was a 2 hour drive and I knew the procedure was expensive.
There, they told me his only hope was to have a surgery where they cut open an artery, reach a catheter through the artery into the heart, and pull out the heartworms. The surgery would cost between $3000 and $5000. I got a $1000 scholarship, put $1000 down on our credit card, and left him there.
On the drive home, I got a call from A&M informing me that he would need to be on Viagra, believe it or not, for 6 to 8 months after the surgery, because he now has Pulmonary Hypertension. This costs about $25 dollars a day.
He went through the surgery, and he doing much better. They removed 43 worms. There are still about 20 in the pulmonary artery where the catheter cannot reach. The plan is to get him healthy enough to go through the arsenic shot and kill the rest. At that point, after total rest for three months, I may have my dog back fully healthy.
The total cost of all the procedures will end up being about $6000. To me he is worth it. Because I am starting a ministry, our household income last year was under $30,000, so money is certainly an issue, but I just couldn’t look my friend in the eye and tell him that he wasn’t worth that money.
I am happy to report that Parvo Busters returned all my money plus $1000 to help out with the surgery.
If you live in an area where mosquitoes live, please have your dog tested. Then put him on a monthly treatment which will keep the heartworms from developing.