Monday, February 13, 2012

Dog Owners Beware!

Allie - taken May 2009
Last week, I took our White German Shepherd, Allie, to the vet for her annual checkup.  I had to get her there early because I was leaving her there for the day so that she could have her checkup and get a good grooming when they could fit her in.  I like doing it that way because then I don't have to wait around with a rambunctious dog and potentially cranky toddler.  I had to get the cranky toddler up early, but she perked up when she discovered that Allie would be riding with her in the car.  She had a mini-meltdown when we had to leave her at the vet's.  "Puppy!!!"

Later that afternoon, one of the girls called from the vet's office to tell me that Allie tested positive for Heartworm.  I couldn't believe it!  She gave a brief description of heartworms.  She said that in looking at our records, they see a several month gap where it appears to them that we did not give her any heartworm preventative medications.  This is SO not true!  We have faitfully, without fail, given both of our dogs their meds every month.  Not always on the first of the month, but within a few days.  My husband administers the meds and writes on the calendar (most of the time) when he gave the medicine.  I put the heart stickers on the calendar to remind us.  In fact, that's one of the things I do when I get a brand-new calendar each year and put down all the recurring birthdays, etc.  Another thing I do is on the back of the blister packs of medicines, I write the dog's name and the month in which she should take that pill.  Dolly is a smaller dog and takes a different dosage, so it makes it easier to figure out which pill is for which dog.

In the course of our conversation, I remembered that a couple of years ago (when I was pregnant with Gracie), we bought some heartworm meds from Costco because they were cheaper.  I told the girl this.  The reason she was majoring on the gap is not so that she could lecture us, but because TriHeart will reimburse for the (very expensive) treatment if there is documentation that the client used their meds.  Heartworms can take up to six months to develop.  She tested negative for them last year.  She hasn't had any symptoms, so we think it's been very recent that she contracted them.  And because we do give her her meds every month, she probably has a very light case.

There are a couple of treatments available (maybe more, I don't know).  One, which is less expensive, involves treatments spread out over time and requires that the dog be "kept quiet" (cooped up so that she can not run or get excited) for 6 months.  That is just not feasible at all.  For one thing, we're not keeping her in the house 24/7 for six months.  My daughter would love it, but that would be added stress on us.  The second treatment, which is VERY expensive, involves two shots taken over two days while staying at the vet's and being cooper up for about a month.  Robert decided to do that one.  We have her in the garage, and our car is, once again, out on the driveway.  The first couple of weeks are the most critical; therefore, my husband may let her back into the backyard before the month is over.

Positive parts to this story:  I had Dolly tested, and she tested negative for heartworms.  The office manager at the Vet's said that there is a small chance we may still be reimbursed for the treatment.  Even a partial reimbursement would be a blessing.

In closing, my advice to you fellow dog owners:

1.  Give your dogs their heartworm preventative medicines faithfully.  Do what you have to do to remember to do this.

2.  Acquire and keep documentation of the brand of meds you buy.  That way, if your dog gets heartworms, you can hopefully get reimbursed for the treatment.
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