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Close to 13 years ago, my now ex-husband and I were on our way to the Atlanta Airport cargo terminal to pick up our new dog. When we arrived they gave us some unexpected news, one of the workers had opened her crate to offer her water and she had escaped. She was obviously very scared from her flight and time traveling, and no one seemed familiar. They warned us that if she escaped out to the tarmac, she could be shot by security.
My ex and I had spent months trying to find the perfect dog. Our first Rottweiler puppy had died of sub aortic stenosis (SAS), a genetic heart defect. We wanted a dog that we could compete in AKC conformation and obedience with, and that would hopefully pass all of her health clearances; we hoped that our new dog, Naya would meet those expectations.
One of the security guards handed us a half full bag of puffed cheese snacks, and told us that we might try to catch her with those. We made a trail, and luckily it worked. An hour later we would be venturing back to Kentucky with a celebratory stop for chicken nuggets and french fries for our new dog. Unfortunately our battle to save Naya’s life wouldn’t end there, and it wouldn’t be the scariest ordeal that we would face with our sweet girl.
We took Naya for our first veterinary check within a few days of her arrival, and received another unwelcome surprised. Naya tested positive for heartworms. She had a large adult infestation and her heart was enlarged. Her breeder had suspected that her previous owner had neglected her socialization, but he had also neglected her routine healthcare. Our veterinarians recommended that we return her. They said the treatment was dangerous, and it could have longterm health complications. But how could we suddenly abandon her now?
Her breeder agreed to pay for all the treatment and testing, if we wanted to keep her. We knew in our hearts, she was already ours.
Our veterinarians warned us about the risks associated with heartworm treatment, and that despite everyone’s best efforts, that Naya could die. She would have to stay in the veterinary hospital and she would be on crate rest until she recovered. They would administer painful injections of immiticide, which is an arsenic-based poison. It would kill the heartworms, hopefully without clogging up her pulmonary arteries when they died.
Waiting on the happy ending? Well here it is; Naya recovered. I spent a week just hanging out with her, trying to make her rest. It was scary and I cried a lot. We were beyond fortunate because her cardiac echo showed no serious long term damage from the heartworms. It would take a few months before she was completely heartworm free, it takes 3-6 months for all of the adult heartworms to die and leave the host.
Naya died in my arms at 13.5 years old, she was surrounded by the people who loved her the most. Naya would become a champion show dog, therapy dog, big sister to our son, and beloved companion. She traveled the country with us, and kept me company when my ex-husband was deployed. It’s hard to imagine what our lives would have been like had we not kept Naya.
One mistake by her previous owner nearly cost us years of happiness. Heartworm prevention is not an option. It’s a vital part of responsible dog ownership. Nearly 300,000 dogs in the U.S. contract heartworms each year from infected mosquitoes, causing lack of energy, weight loss, and breathing problems. If left untreated, then heartworm disease can cause heart and lung damage and even death. We currently use and recommend Virbac® Sentinel® Spectrum®. It’s a paraciticide that treats for heartworms, hookworms, whipworms, roundworms, and tapeworms that can invade your dog’s digestive system. Regardless of whether your dog lives inside or outside, it’s susceptible to heartworm infection. It also works to help prevent flea infestation by breaking the lifecycle of fleas.
Heartworm treatment may cost you more than a $1,000, it could cost your dog’s life.
If your dog isn’t on a monthly heartworm prevention, I encourage you to make an appointment with your veterinarian and have your dog tested for heartworms. If heartworms are treated sooner, it decreases the likelihood of death or long-term health complications. While you’re there ask your vet about using Virbac® Sentinel® Spectrum® as your monthly preventative. Worried about remembering when to administer Sentinel® Spectrum®? You can sign up for monthly reminders via email or text. Are your dogs on monthly heartworm prevention?
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Virbac® Sentinel®. The opinions and text are all mine.