Our Canine Heartworm Program Saves Lives!

HSSC works tirelessly to save the lives of the animals most in need of help - the abused, neglected, abandoned, sick, and injured animals in our community. We see harrowing cases of illness and injury in homeless pets and give these animals a fighting chance through compassionate and lifesaving veterinary care.

Canine heartworm disease is a heartbreaking illness we encounter in these animals who need us the most. Passed along by a mosquito bite, heartworm is potentially fatal if left untreated. HSSC encounters upwards of 30 heartworm positive dogs annually. To protect and help our shelter residents and dogs throughout Summit County, we work hard to prevent heartworm in healthy dogs and provide lifesaving treatment for heartworm positive dogs.

At HSSC, all dogs over the age of six months old are tested for heartworm infection when they enter our shelter. Dogs who are negative receive a topical preventative medication and continue to receive this monthly, just like your animals at home.

For our dogs who test positive though, their road to recovery can be difficult and costly, but we never give up.

Treatment for heartworm disease is extensive. Over the course of three months, the treated dog receives three doses of an aggressive medication to destroy the heartworms. These damaging parasites grow up to a foot long and live within the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. Treatment destroys the worms, but because of their precarious location within the body, they can cause serious complications to organs and blood flow as they are expelled. As a result, dogs undergoing treatment are prescribed strict cage rest, leaving their enclosures only for calm walks outside.

Paul and Smitty, the two dogs pictured here, were both rescued from situations of neglect and found to be suffering from heartworm disease. With lifesaving heartworm treatment at our shelter over three months, Paul and Smitty made complete recoveries and, once free of the parasite, have found their forever families! We meet more dogs like these each day, just beginning their recoveries but facing bright, loving futures.

Recent news reports share a study warning Summit County pet owners of a rising risk of heartworm disease for dogs in our area. While rates of heartworm are no higher in Summit County than in surrounding areas, dog owners should see their veterinarian annually to test for heartworm and provide preventative medications to your pets as prescribed.

At HSSC, our efforts to prevent heartworm in healthy dogs and cure heartworm for those who are suffering are central to our mission and values. Our organization is one of few locally that has the resources and capacity, because of the generosity of our supporters, to provide treatment to heartworm positive dogs. Over 700 dogs come through our doors each year, each requiring heartworm testing, preventative medication, and in some cases, treatment – which all comes at an expense. Beyond resources for daily care and sheltering, the cost of medication for heartworm disease runs over $220 per dog. A gift today will support these lifesaving efforts to test, prevent, and treat heartworm disease.

With you, we can continue to make a difference.

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Click here to learn more about heartworm and what you can do to protect your own pets from this life-threatening disease.

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