Did you know that April is National Heartworm Awareness Month? Heartworm is a serious disease that can affect both dogs and cats. According to the American Heartworm Society, more than one million dogs in the United States currently have heartworm disease.

From the ASPCA:

The spaghetti-like worms, which can grow up to a foot in length, live in the hearts, lungs and associated blood vessels of infected animals. They are carried in a microscopic form (known as microfilaria) by mosquitoes that transmit the worms when they bite other animals. They can circulate in the bloodstream, mature, multiply and can eventually obstruct the flow of blood to the heart and lungs. If not treated, heartworm can be fatal.

All of this because of a mosquito? It’s true! Meet Tezla, a sweet boy who was heartworm positive when he came into JHS and has since been adopted. He’s currently in the first of three phases of his heartworm treatment and his parents shared some reflections about his recovery process with us:

“When we first met Tez, Joe and I of course fell head over heels for those crazy ears! After meeting him, we were quickly informed that he was heartworm positive. I was sad that he wasn’t ‘perfect,’ but I honestly knew very little about the illness or the treatment. I just knew most dogs take a pill for prevention. My knee-jerk response was that we will do whatever it takes to get him better. The JHS staff assured us that his treatment would be covered as part of his adoption and that he should make a full recovery, which gave us peace of mind.”

“We really didn’t notice anything regarding the illness at first, but I will say since wrapping up the antibiotics, Tez’s feistiness and energy have skyrocketed! He is so much more playful. We will be thrilled to watch his personality develop once these nasty creatures are fully out of his system. Joe and I are so glad we didn’t pass on our sweet Tez just because of his illness…he has brought such joy, laughter and fun to our household. It may sound cliché but we really do feel like Tez rescued us.”

For National Heartworm Prevention Month, we want to thank all of our supporters and donors who allow us to give heartworm positive pups like Tezla a second chance at health and happiness. To learn more about heartworm disease, including prevention and treatment, visit: heartwormsociety.org/pet-owner-resources/heartworm-basics

JHS offers low-cost heartworm testing, preventative, and treatment through our veterinary services. Learn more at: jaxhumane.org/hospital