Heartworm Disease and Prevention

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Heartworm Disease has always been an issue in Eastern Tennessee but since mosquitoes transmit the disease, the last few years have seen an escalation in positive dogs. If we have a wet year, the following year will generally show more dogs infected with the dangerous parasite. Heartworm disease can infect cats and even humans but are less common in these species. There is presently only one accepted method of treatment of heartworm positive dogs, this involves treatment with an arsenic compound and is not without risks. There is no accepted treatment for cats.

Prevention is the best and safest method to control this disease in both cats and dogs. Monthly medications have made this a relatively easy matter.

There has been much talk lately about the “slow kill method” of treating heartworms. This is at best a crap shoot at controlling this disease. Some dogs will clear after two years of taking medications but the majority does not and at what costs? Two years of slow damage to the heart may greatly shorten a patient’s life span.

We Recommend

1) Heartworm preventative for all dogs and outside cats.

2) Annual testing. (No preventative is 100 percent and two years of damage before detection is not worth the cost savings)

3) Year round preventative because mosquitoes can be seen as late as December and as early as February.

Heartworm disease has a national society dedicated to this one disease. That gives you an idea of the complexity and seriousness of this condition. The information on heartworm disease constantly evolves so ask a veterinarian every year what has changed.


Thank You Dr. Hackett for writing such a great article!

Winterize Your Pets

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As the winter months rapidly approach, we would like to help keep your family pets healthy and happy. The safest place for pets to be during the colder moths is inside. However, this is often not possible for all pets. We have put together a few helpful winter hints to keep the entire family warm and safe this season!

  • If temperatures drop below freezing, please bring any outdoor pets inside (or at least into the garage). Use plenty of thick beds or bedding so they can stay warm. If you use any type of heater in your garage, be sure it is in a safe place where your pet cannot knock it over.
  • Add extra bedding to your outdoor dog houses to help keep your dog warm and comfortable in colder weather.
  • Be sure all outdoor animals have fresh water and food daily. Water freezes very quickly in cold weather so check daily to be sure their water supply isn’t frozen.
  • Keep all animals away from antifreeze. It is sweet so it tastes good to pets but it is DEADLY for dogs and cats. If you think your pet has been exposed, contact us immediately!
  • If your pet is outside, be sure to remove any snow or ice from their paws. Animals can develop frostbite due to extreme cold or ice stuck to their paws. Monitor your pet for any signs of discomfort (swelling or excessive licking of paws).
  • If your walk you pet outside, please avoid areas where chemicals have been used to melt the snow or ice. They can be very irritating to your pet’s paws.
  • On cold mornings, honk your horn or slap the hood of your car to scare away any sleeping animals. Animals will often crawl under cars or into engines seeking warmth.
  • One of the best ways to keep the entire family warm is to snuggle together!!!
Snuggles Winterize

Thanks Dr. Jennifer!