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My Dog Is Heartworm Positive
If it happened to me, it can happen to you
heartworm test preventative dalmatian
Jolie will have to rest for 6-8 weeks during heartworm treatment.

My vet can't remember the last time she had a heartworm positive case. Until now. My 8-year-old Dalmatian, Jolie, tested positive for heartworms at her annual check up last week. We retested the blood in hopes that it was a false positive. But there was no need to send the sample back to the lab. Through a microscope, my vet could see microfilaria swimming in her blood sample.


I’m shocked and upset. My husband and I take excellent care of our dogs. How could this have happened? Apparently, despite living in the Chicago area, we needed to give her heartworm preventative through the winter, not just the warmer months. When we lived in New Orleans’ subtropical climate, it was a given that the dogs received heartworm preventative year round.


What seems particularly unfair is that Jolie has already been through a lot. We adopted her through a Dalmatian rescue when she was 10 months old. She had been abandoned by her family, left in a backyard without food, water or shelter. She was emaciated, infested with fleas, and hung her head, too sad to lift her eyes to meet ours. She didn’t know how to play. Our older Dalmatian, Darby, helped her come out of her shell.  We helped her get well.


Last August,  she underwent back surgery for a bulging disc. The surgery alone cost $4,000.  Post surgical rehab, chiropractic and supplements have added up to another $2,000.  Although that was a financial strain, it was much harder keeping her quiet and pain free during her months long recovery.  But we did it. We helped her get well.


To think that for less than $50, we could’ve given her a few more doses of Heartgard, and kept her free of heartworms and the risky, expensive  treatment required to kill them. On top of that, she has a grade 4 heart murmur, so we need to do a heart ultrasound to ensure she can tolerate the treatment. It all makes me sick to my stomach.  My poor girl has been through enough, and now this.


Despite the growing trend to keep toxins to a minimum in our dogs (and for good reason), please give your dog monthly heartworm preventative  year round.  The risk is not worth it.


Julia Kamysz Lane, owner of Spot On K9 Sports and contributing editor at The Bark, is the author of multiple New Orleans travel guides, including Frommer’s New Orleans Day by Day (3rd Edition). Her work has also appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Poets and Writers and Publishers Weekly.

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Submitted by Connie | May 15 2012 |

I am so very sorry to hear of more heartache with your dogs. I have come here before to your blog to unburden my guilt over not making my dog well even with thousands of dollars spent. You made it over that hill but still had this rotten luck. You are a hero to put it out here and try to make it better for others. Wishing you all the good luck in the world. (Some things I wish I had helped my other older dog with are: large area rugs not throw rugs, moisturize foot pads and trim foot pad hair (all to stabilize walking))

Submitted by Reston Gal | August 2 2012 |

This article does not sound genuine to me - it sounds more like pharmaceutical propoganda. I urge all dog owners to do their homework before medicating their dogs!

Submitted by Anonymous | October 5 2012 |

We live in Van Nuys Ca and I am an RN. I noticed that my young Golden was easily fatigued, short of breath. I requested a hearworm test, and the vet at first stated that heartworm isn't found in this area. I persisted and my baby was found to be heartworm positive.
Trust your instincts and everyone don't forget the heartworm prevention. Linda Combs

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