News Ticker

Warning about heart worms

Carolyn Smith, Tucker, Dr. Lauren Rockey

Carolyn Smith, Tucker, Dr. Lauren Rockey

SAINT AUGUSTINE The St. Augustine Humane Society and Husky Haven of Florida will provide heartworm disease treatment for Tucker, a male Siberian Husky in advanced stages of the illness. Husky Haven is based in Clearwater and provides medical treatment for their rescue dogs along with rescuing stray, surrendered and endangered Siberian Huskies. The non-profit will work with the Humane Society in its mission to provide support, education and assistance to all owners of Huskies.

Through the Humane Society’s low cost pet wellness clinic, staff veterinarian Dr. Lauren Rockey and her medical team will treat Tucker and his disease while executive director Carolyn Smith provides foster care for the approximately four-year-old dog. Tucker will be available for adoption through Husky Haven when the heartworms are under control and manageable. Before adoption, Husky Haven will thoroughly screen each new owner applicant before placing Tucker in his new home.

According to Dr. Rockey, heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease and transmitted by infected mosquitoes. Dogs are natural hosts for heartworms and the heartworms that live inside the dog can mature into adults and produce offspring.  If untreated, their numbers can increase and cause lasting damage to the heart, lungs, and arteries. Heartworms can also affect the dog’s health and quality of life long after the parasites are gone. For this reason, prevention is the medically recommended option, and treatment when needed should be administered as early in the course of the disease as possible.

“With the rainy season upon us in Florida, mosquitoes are also in abundance, so it’s important to make sure dogs are protected against this deadly sickness. Heartworm disease is carried from dog to dog solely through the bite of a mosquito,” said Smith.

Smith says, heartworm disease is easily preventable before the illness is diagnosed with a low-cost monthly parasiticide. The Humane Society clinic offers $20 heartworm tests. Monthly prevention costs run from $4to $7 at the clinic.

According to Dr. Rockey, the annual cost of prevention can be less than $75, but treatment of a dog that already has heartworms can easily exceed $1,000, particularly if complications occur.  “Not only is there the cost of immiticide injections, the dog must be carefully monitored by a veterinarian,” she said. “The treatment can be very hard on a pet, and Tucker appears to have a heavy burden of heartworms, so his recovery will not be easy.” Dr. Rockey added, the ongoing therapy is equally hard on pet owners, as they must restrict the dog’s exercise during the two to three month treatment period.

For more information about heartworms, visit the website

at or call the Humane Society at (904) 829-2737 or email Visit the website at

About PluggedInto (1444 Articles)
PluggedInto is an ePublication covering news, history, local events and more in the Putnam/Flagler/St. Johns tricounty area.

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