JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – Ask anyone who has a cat or dog, and they will tell you their pet is like a member of the family. Folks will do anything to keep them healthy and free of disease. Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, that's just not the case especially when it comes to heart worms.
Heart worms in dogs are a serious problem. If not caught early enough, they could be deadly. With the number of positive cases that have popped up in the area, vets and pet owners are definitely concerned.
"Heart worm disease is very serious for all dogs," says Veterinarian Rodney Vaughn, "We have several dogs in a week that come in for treatment, now we test dogs everyday for heart worms, and almost every day we find a new dog that has heart worms."
Vaughn says the delta area is a prime hot spot, which includes Jonesboro. What's even worse, doctor he says that even dogs that are taking preventative medicines are becoming infected with the disease, "It's very frustrating to tell an owner that you know you've been buying heart worm products for the last year or two years but your dog still has heart worms. But right now it's the best that we have as far as preventing it of course if you can limit their exposure to the mosquitoes that helps too."
Heart worm researchers have been collecting mosquito and blood samples for research to figure out the problem. Meanwhile, Vaughn has been struggling with the treatment, because the medicine is on limited supply, "When we have a dog that comes in for treatment we have to call the company and tell them how much we need for this dog and that dog and as it's available they'll send it to us. We can't just take in every dog for treatment. We are having to make some of them wait till we get more medicine."
He says if you notice your dog with any of the signs of heart worms like coughing, difficulty breathing, or reduced appetite. It is best to get it checked out, "It's a simple blood test to detect it and it only takes a couple of minutes and we do it here."
It is important to test your dog annually for heart worms. If your dog is taking preventives, and still gets heart worms, Vaughn says the companies are good about paying for the heart worm treatment as long as you're using their product.