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Donations help dog get heartworm treatment
Clyde, a 1-year-old Shepherd mix, gives Dr. Meghan Seabolt a wet kiss Wednesday inside the Hall County Animal Shelter. The shelter raised money to treat the canine for heartworms. Clyde is responding well to the treatment, and could be available for adoption in about two months. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

One lucky dog at the Hall County Animal Shelter is doing well after his first treatment for heartworms.

The shelter raised money to treat Clyde’s heartworms so the lively young dog could have a second chance.

Heartworms are parasites that are easy to prevent but difficult and costly to treat.

“They live in the heart and cause all kinds of side effects if there’s enough of them,” said shelter veterinarian Meghan Seabolt. “They are spread by mosquitoes.”

Most animals that come to the shelter with heartworms are euthanized because of the costly and time intensive treatments that are needed to treat them. If too many large worms have already developed, treatments can not reverse the damage that has been done to the organs.

Dogs who have lived with heartworms for a long time will often have heart murmurs, cough or fatigue.

“Clyde was pretty lucky,” Seabolt said. “He didn’t show any signs.”

Seabolt said with Clyde’s youth and relatively mild case of heartworms, he could be ready to go to a new home in about two months.
“He’s such a good adoption candidate,” Seabolt said. “He’s a super sweet guy.”

Clyde, a shepherd mix, won the hearts of the shelter staff as they watched him play games by throwing toys in the air for himself to catch and then put them back in the bag when he was done.

“He cleans up after himself,” Seabolt said.

The shelter was able to raise the money by placing collection boxes at adoption events and a recent rabies and microchip clinic. Clyde will rest for about a month before undergoing his second round of injections.

Seabolt said treatments can cost between $800 to $1,000, while preventative medications cost about $10 per month.

Medications typically are either a topical solution, which goes directly on the skin, or an oral medication in the form of a treat.

If a dog on medication is bitten by a mosquito carrying heart worm larvae, the medication will kill the baby worms before they are able to grow and cause damage.

It’s especially important for dogs in this area to have heartworm medication.

“In the South, (heart worms) are pretty common,” Seabolt said. “We have so many mosquitoes.”

Even in the winter, when mosquitoes don’t appear to be out, it’s important to continue heartworm medication.

“It’s too risky down here to skip months,” Seabolt said. “They need it every month for the rest of their lives.”

Seabolt recommends taking dogs who aren’t already on heartworm prevention to a vet to get a blood test and a prescription for medication.