Heartworm cases up 80% in Orange Co. shelter dogs

Heartworm disease can be fatal for dogs if not treated. Due to treatment expenses, dogs with heartworm disease are less likely to be adopted from animal shelters.

Heartworm disease is a parasitic worm that lives in the heart and pulmonary arteries of an infected animal. It is transmitted from dog to dog by mosquitoes. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the lifecycle of the heartworm is complex. There are a few different treatment options and costs vary by veterinarian. 

"With preventative options readily available it is incredibly saddening to see such an increase in the number of dogs suffering from heartworm disease," said Dil Luther, Division Manager of Orange County Animal Services. "Many of these dogs would make great family pets as they are well-behaved, friendly and playful, but are consistently overlooked due to this treatable medical condition."

Animal Services is currently caring for 10 homeless dogs with heartworm disease. Max Jr., a 3-year-old, 62 pound dog, is one of the ten dogs eagerly awaiting being selected by an adoptive family. He was surrendered to the shelter because his family could no longer care for him. He gets along with everyone, walks well on the leash, loves belly rubs and is housebroken. 

Animal Services encourages all dog owners to be diligent in providing their dog with proper medical care, which includes a heartworm preventative. This preventative can be purchased through veterinary offices.

"Marking your calendar is a great way to remember to give your dog its monthly medication," said Luther. "We hope this reminder will help reduce the number of heartworm diseased dogs we receive."

Each adoption includes spay/neuter, initial vaccinations, microchip identification, deworming, heartworm test (dogs) or FLV/FIV test (cats), rabies vaccination and Adoption Welcome Kit. 

Orange County Animal Services is located at 2769 Conroy Road in Orlando near the Mall at Millenia. The facility is open for adoptions weekdays from 10 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and weekends from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, please call (407) 836-3111 or visit www.ocnetpets.com