Posts Tagged With: Ginny

H is for Heartworms

A-to-Z Blogging Challenge 2015--HToday’s topic is a serious one that we are particularly passionate about. Our Ginny was heartworm-positive when we got her, as are many shelter dogs. At Unleashed, approximately 1 in 5 dogs who arrive at the shelter are heartworm-positive. Many times, the owners abandon their dogs because they cannot afford the expensive treatment to rid their dog of the parasite.

Heartworms are spread to dogs through mosquito bites. From the time a mosquito bites an infected animal, it takes about 2 weeks for it to be able to spread heartworms to a new animal. Therefore, if you have a heartworm-positive dog, you don’t need to worry about it infecting your other dogs. All dogs need to be on a regular heartworm preventive medicine year-round, regardless of whether there are mosquitoes present, to keep their resistance up and because the preventive medications for heartworms also prevent other types of parasites such as roundworms and tapeworms.

This is definitely one situation where the old adage about an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure rings true. Monthly heartworm medications can cost as little as $10 per dose, and are safe and effective in preventing infestation. Treatment of heartworms is far more expensive, anywhere from a few hundred dollars to more than a thousand depending upon the type of treatment you choose. The treatment which works the most quickly is a series of injections of a drug known as Immiticide. The dog needs to be kept on activity restriction during treatment and often for several months afterward, because the dying worms can cause blockages in the dog’s pulmonary vessels, and exercise can aggravate the condition.

Some veterinarians now prefer a “slow kill” method because of risks involved in the Immiticide injections, or simply because they cannot get the Immiticide. There is a good article here about this issue, and the different options a vet might use. We are doing the slow kill method with Ginny, but it is a long process. It takes at least 9 months to complete, and requires vigilance about preventives even after the initial process. We had to keep her immobile during the initial phase, when she was on steroids, and even now, we have to limit her activity because she tires so easily.

It’s so important to keep on top of preventives for your dog. Make sure to set an annual check-up for your dog to be re-checked for heartworms, because most states won’t allow the prescriptions to be renewed without the vet having tested your dog first. If you are concerned about the cost of preventives, many websites such as Petango and 1-800-PetMeds offer them at more affordable prices, you just have to get your vet to confirm the prescription. Petango also gives a portion of all sales to rescues, so you can help your local shelter just by shopping! A small cost and a little vigilance will keep your dog heartworm-free.

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G is for Ginny

A-to-Z Blogging Challenge 2015--GNearly a year ago, I was volunteering at a 5k to benefit our shelter, Unleashed. It was a dreary morning, pouring rain, and I was exhausted from setting up tables, filling and handing out race packets, and hauling donations for the silent auction while soaked from the torrential downpour. All I wanted was to go home, dry off, and get warm.

Then I got a text from Josh. He was working at the shelter at the time, and sent me a photo of a scruffy-looking corgi. The text that followed was a sarcastic, “I can adopt her, right?” I think I surprised him when I said I’d think about it. But as soon as the race was over, I volunteered to take supplies back to the shelter so I could meet this lovely girl.

Josh has wanted a corgi for as long as I’ve known him. So it would be up to me to be the voice of reason if ever there was going to be one in our house. When I got to Unleashed, Josh had me go in one of the adoption rooms, and brought “Natalie Cook” (named after one of Charlie’s Angels, hilariously enough) into the room.

Her coat was in rough shape, matted and shedding like mad. She seemed a little over-excited, but ran right up to me and leaned her head on my knee. As I petted her, whole handfuls of fur fell out. I asked Josh to find a brush for me, and proceeded to spend nearly an hour and a half brushing her and playing with her. I filled an office wastebasket with the fur that she shed. It didn’t seem possible so much fur had come off of one dog. Josh had left me in the room since he was working, and every time he would walk by the door or he talked outside, “Natalie” would run over to the door and paw at it, looking back at me with the cheeky corgi grin.

At some point during this time, Josh told his co-workers to mark her as unavailable. We took her into foster that day, and officially adopted her at the end of August 2014. We named her Ginny, after Ginny Weasley from the Harry Potter books–because with all that red hair, she must be a Weasley!

Ginny’s journey with us has been a challenging one. She was heartworm positive, had not been well socialized with other dogs, and was frightened of fairly common household sounds. It’s taken a lot of time, patience, and just plain work to integrate her into our little pack. And it’s been worth every bit of it. We’ll share more of her story throughout the remaining A-to-Z posts, but for now, just enjoy some pictures of our quirky girl…

Ginny photo collage

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