Warning About Heartworm in Dogs

Warning About Heartworm in Dogs

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Samantha Hayes reportingFor so many of us, our dogs are part of the family and they tag along for lots of activites, especially in the summer.

But local veterinarians are warning owners again about heartworm because they've seen more cases than usual in the last two years.

His ears, eyes, and teeth all look good. And aside from a little bit of anxiety that comes with being an Italian Greyhound, "Helper" checks out okay.

But examinations of other dogs and cats have revealed a disturbing diagnosis. So far this year, five have tested positive for heartworm at Jordan River Animal Hospital.

Dr. Terry Silkman/ Veterinarian: "I think that's a lot for one hospital."

The parasite looks like a little white string.

Dr. Terry Silkman/Veterinarian: "So if you can imagine how your heart would function if you poured it full of a lot of spaghetti. That's essentially what happens to the dog and they die of congestive heart failure."

Utah's state veterinarian says at this time last year, there were 46 cases of heartworm. This year - 30. Overall, doctors say that's more than years past.

The reason may be more people are living in Utah, and that mean more dogs are too.

Dr. Terry Silkman: "One, Utah has enjoyed a pretty significant immigration or population in the last few years."

Infected dogs spread the parasite. And so do mosquitos. We've had plenty of those after a long, wet spring.

Dr. Terry Silkman: "Prevention is really the key, medically and financially the optimal thing to do."

The pills cost about seven dollars a month, and the medicine also prevents intestinal parasites, like tape worm. Those types are even more common than heartworm.

"We are seeing three to five positive cases a day."

Intestinal parasites are dangerous because they can be passed to human beings. The best thing to do for you pet, especially dogs but also cats, is to get the heartworm preventative treatment from your vet.

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