SOURCE: Animal Medical Clinic

April 12, 2012 10:00 ET

Jacksonville Veterinary Clinic: Heartworm Disease a Serious Problem, Prevention Necessary

JACKSONVILLE, TX--(Marketwire - Apr 12, 2012) - As April is Heartworm Awareness Month, Animal Medical Clinic in Jacksonville is working to educate pet owners about the importance of heartworm prevention. According to the clinic, this completely preventable disease affects thousands of dogs every year, including many in the Jacksonville, TX community. Without proper treatment, many heartworm infections are fatal. According to veterinarian Dr. Ira Stephens, the only way to protect dogs against heartworm disease is through preventative medicine, which can be administered on a monthly or bi-yearly basis.

Veterinarian Dr. Ira Stephens is warning pet owners about the importance of protecting their dogs from heartworms. According to the pet veterinarian, without consistent prevention, dogs are at risk for contracting the parasite. The animal vet says that a heartworm infection may lead to death, even with treatment.

Heartworms are caused by a parasite that is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. When a dog is bitten, the mosquito will inject larva into the animal's bloodstream. The larvae migrate to the dog's heart, growing into parasitic worms that can be up to 18-inches long.

"Heartworms are an incredibly painful and expensive parasitic infection to treat," said Dr. Ira. "However, affordable, monthly prevention is an effective method for avoiding an infection in the first place. I strongly recommend that all dog owners have their pets on the appropriate preventative. Our animal vet clinic offers a number of different medications at competitive prices. I am always happy to speak with any pet owner and answer questions that they may have about their pet's medication."

According to the American Heartworm Society, Immiticide is the only treatment that kills virtually all heartworms in a few days. Immiticide treatment is expensive and can cost up to $1,000 or more. Expensive diagnostic bloodwork is also required prior to administration of treatment at the animal vet clinic.

Once Immiticide is administered, the heartworms will begin to decompose and break into small pieces inside the arteries. There is a danger that these fragments may break off and obstruct blood flow. For this reason, Dr. Stephens strongly recommends keeping dogs on a monthly heartworm preventative to prevent a heartworm infection in the first place. Even with treatment, it may take several months before a dog tests heartworm negative. In severe cases, multiple treatment courses may be required.

At this time, there is no commercially-available vaccine to protect against heartworm disease. The only known prevention is a monthly heartworm medication.

"Heartworms are spread via the bite of an infected mosquito," said Dr. Stephens. "Since mosquitos are highly prevalent in our Jacksonville community, I strongly encourage all pet owners to protect their dogs against heartworms. Even with treatment, not every dog survives, especially if severe damage has been caused to the heart and blood vessels. This is an extremely painful death for the dog."

Animal Medical Clinic is a full-service veterinary hospital providing comprehensive care for cats, dogs and small animals. Veterinarian Dr. Stephens, along with his veterinary care team, provides Jacksonville dog shots, wellness care, spay/neuter operations, dental care, and emergency animal services. The vet clinic has a surgical suite and in-house pharmacy for administering medication, including heartworm prevention.

Contact Information

  • Animal Medical Clinic
    Jacksonville, TX