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April is National Heartworm Awareness Month

Did you know that heartworm disease has been diagnosed in all 50 states? 

Read on for some general information about heartworm disease in dogs and cats.

Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease in pets in the United States and many other parts of the world. It is caused by foot-long worms (heartworms) that live in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels of affected pets, causing severe lung disease, heart failure and damage to other organs in the body. Heartworm disease affects dogs, cats and ferrets, but heartworms also live in other mammal species, including wolves, coyotes, foxes, sea lions and—in rare instances—humans. Because wild species such as foxes and coyotes live in proximity to many urban areas, they are considered important carriers of the disease.

Dogs. The dog is a natural host for heartworms, which means that heartworms that live inside the dog mature into adults, mate and produce offspring. If untreated, their numbers can increase, and dogs have been known to harbor several hundred worms in their bodies. Heartworm disease causes lasting damage to the heart, lungs and arteries, and can affect the dog’s health and quality of life long after the parasites are gone. For this reason, prevention is by far the best option, and treatment—when needed—should be administered as early in the course of the disease as possible.

Cats. Heartworm disease in cats is very different from heartworm disease in dogs. The cat is an atypical host for heartworms, and most worms in cats do not survive to the adult stage. Cats with adult heartworms typically have just one to three worms, and many cats affected by heartworms have no adult worms. While this means heartworm disease often goes undiagnosed in cats, it’s important to understand that even immature worms cause real damage in the form of a condition known as heartworm associated respiratory disease (HARD). Moreover, the medication used to treat heartworm infections in dogs cannot be used in cats, so prevention is the only means of protecting cats from the effects of heartworm disease.

The heartworm test is normally included in  Rockdale Animal Hospital’s annual exam. But don’t wait for your annual exam to come around, call us today if your pet has not been tested and we will get you an appointment immediately.

Rockdale Animal Hospital carries many different types of heartworm prevention and  offers manufacturers rebates when available to make it more affordable to keep your pets protected.

  •  A heartworm infection is difficult to treat in dogs, and there’s no approved treatment for cats. Good thing it’s easy to prevent! 
  • Myth: Only outdoor pets are at risk of contracting heartworm disease. (You know those pesky mosquitoes can fly into the house.)
  • Signs of heartworm disease: Coughing, difficulty breathing, panting, exercise intolerance, decreased activity level, sudden death.

Have you heard of Mutts & More?

Mutts & More is a local rescue group that Rockdale Animal Hospital  supports.  Mutts & More’s founder is Lori Todd and she takes in the unwanted, injured and sick and makes them whole again before finding them their forever home. Lori also rescues dogs from our local high kill shelters and gets them ready for adoption then has them transported to the Northeast where they are adopted to loving homes.   We are always taking donations to help with the medical bills and we sell Mutts & More t-shirts, wrist bands and car magnets to help them raise money.  Check out Mutts & More if you are in the market for an addition to your family and follow them on facebook  to get the scoop on their fund raising activities.  Here is a link to their website:

A recent dog that Lori rescued from animal control is Patricia .  She is in need of extensive surgery and below is a link to purchase a t- shirt to help fund her surgery. You can read more about Patricia on Mutts & More’s facebook page.


There was no question last week to answer , we just wanted you to send in a picture of your puppy or kitten for our gallery to be eligible to win the weekly prize. NO ONE  sent in a picture so we could not put a gallery together for our website.  You can still send in your pictures to

This week’s question:  Name three conditions that heartwom disease causes in your pet? ( Hint, hint paragraph #1)

Send the correct answer to to be eligible to receive this week’s prize.  Winner will be announced on the blog next week.


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