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My vet can't remember the last time she had a heartworm positive case. Until now. My 8-year-old Dalmatian, Jolie, tested positive for heartworms at her annual check up last week. We retested the blood in hopes that it was a false positive. But there was no need to send the sample back to the lab. Through a microscope, my vet could see microfilaria swimming in her blood sample.
I’m shocked and upset. My husband and I take excellent care of our dogs. How could this have happened? Apparently, despite living in the Chicago area, we needed to give her heartworm preventative through the winter, not just the warmer months. When we lived in New Orleans’ subtropical climate, it was a given that the dogs received heartworm preventative year round.
What seems particularly unfair is that Jolie has already been through a lot. We adopted her through a Dalmatian rescue when she was 10 months old. She had been abandoned by her family, left in a backyard without food, water or shelter. She was emaciated, infested with fleas, and hung her head, too sad to lift her eyes to meet ours. She didn’t know how to play. Our older Dalmatian, Darby, helped her come out of her shell. We helped her get well.
Last August, she underwent back surgery for a bulging disc. The surgery alone cost $4,000. Post surgical rehab, chiropractic and supplements have added up to another $2,000. Although that was a financial strain, it was much harder keeping her quiet and pain free during her months long recovery. But we did it. We helped her get well.
To think that for less than $50, we could’ve given her a few more doses of Heartgard, and kept her free of heartworms and the risky, expensive treatment required to kill them. On top of that, she has a grade 4 heart murmur, so we need to do a heart ultrasound to ensure she can tolerate the treatment. It all makes me sick to my stomach. My poor girl has been through enough, and now this.
Despite the growing trend to keep toxins to a minimum in our dogs (and for good reason), please give your dog monthly heartworm preventative year round. The risk is not worth it.