What is the Have a Heart program?
Have a Heart is a support program for heartworm positive animals at Nashville Humane. In 2019, we treated approximately 60 animals that tested positive for heartworm disease. Even after adoption, these dogs (and a couple of cats) continue to be treated by our veterinary team. We see them through until they are cleared of the disease.
What is heartworm disease?
Heartworms are exactly what they sound like – literally worms in the heart and associated blood vessels of an infected animal. Heartworm disease is spread through the bite of a mosquito, and preventative medicine should be given to protect dogs and cats against heartworm disease. Dogs with heartworm disease can live high quality lives as long as they are given appropriate care. Without treatment, however, heartworm disease will worsen and can lead to more serious illness in your dog’s heart and lungs which can become fatal.
What is the treatment for heartworm disease?
Treatment is generally undertaken in stages over several months. While heartworm treatment is extremely effective, it is not without risk and can be expensive. We are fortunate that we have the ability to treat dogs that come to our shelter with heartworms. In most cases, heartworm disease treatment includes oral medications to weaken the heartworms, prevent new infections, and reduce inflammation in addition to a series of injections to kill the adult heartworms.
What is parvovirus?
The canine parvovirus (CPV) infection is a highly contagious viral illness that affects puppies and young dogs, and without treatment, it is potentially deadly. Part of what makes the virus so dangerous is the ease with which it is spread through the canine population. The virus affects dogs’ gastrointestinal tracts and is spread by direct dog-to-dog contact and contact with contaminated feces (stool), environments, or people. It is resistant to heat, cold, humidity, and drying, and can survive in the environment for long periods of time.
What are the signs of parvo?
Some of the signs of parvovirus include lethargy, loss of appetite, abdominal pain and bloating, fever or low body temperature, vomiting, and severe, often bloody, diarrhea. Persistent vomiting and diarrhea can cause rapid dehydration, and damage to the intestines and immune system can cause septic shock. Most deaths from parvovirus occur within 48 to 72 hours following the onset of clinical signs. If your puppy or dog shows any of these signs, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.
The most critical components to preventing parvovirus is vaccination and good hygiene. In a shelter environment, puppies are frequently received for which we have no vaccine history. We start vaccinations as early as four weeks of age to prevent the contracting of the disease. However, there are times where we will accept a puppy that unbeknownst to us, is already incubating the disease. At the first sign of illness, we begin treatment. This is where you come in!
How is parvo treated?
Treatment consists of around-the-clock care to ensure the patient is hydrated, comfortable, and as strong as possible so that the puppy has time to generate an effective immune response. We provide fluid therapy and antibiotics, as well as anti-nausea medicine, and carefully monitor the patient’s white blood count. Feeding tubes may be placed to ensure proper nutritional support. Funds raised for our parvo ICU will enable us to continue treating puppies to the best of our ability and do our very best to save each and every one.