Good Flights To Southern U.S. Are Protecting Pets from Heartworm Disease And Saving Lives

Canine Heartworm disease is a dangerous and life-threatening illness transmitted by mosquitos to pets in every state within the United States. According to the FDA, Adult heartworms live in the heart, lungs, and associated blood vessels of infected pets. Untreated, heartworm can lead to lung disease, heart failure, or irreparable damage to other internal organs, and ultimately death.

The FDA breaks heartworm disease into four classes:

  • Class 1: No symptoms or mild symptoms such as an occasional cough
  • Class 2: Mild to moderate symptoms such as an occasional cough and tiredness after moderate activity
  • Class 3: More severe symptoms such as a sickly appearance, a persistent cough, and tiredness after mild activity. Trouble breathing and signs of heart failure are common. For class 2 and 3 heartworm disease, heart and lung changes are usually seen on chest x-rays
  • Class 4:  Also called caval syndrome. There is such a heavy worm burden that blood flowing back to the heart is physically blocked by a large mass of worms. Caval syndrome is life-threatening and quick surgical removal of the heartworms is the only treatment option. The surgery is risky, and even with surgery, most dogs with caval syndrome die
Heartworm disease leads to thousands of preventable pet deaths in the U.S. every year.

Source: Adobe Stock/Cristina Conti
Heartworm disease leads to thousands of preventable pet deaths in the U.S. every year.

According to the American Heartworm Society, some dogs have been known to harbor several hundred worms in their bodies. Heartworm disease can also affect the a health and quality of life long after the parasites are gone. For this reason, prevention is by far the best option, and treatment—when needed—should be administered as early in the course of the disease as possible.

“No one wants to hear that their dog has heartworm, but the good news is that most infected dogs can be successfully treated,” the American Heartworm Society reports. The goal is to first stabilize your dog if he is showing signs of disease, then kill all adult and immature worms while keeping the side effects of treatment to a minimum.”

Louisiana and Mississippi lead the U.S. in heartworm cases.

Source: Adobe Stock/andreaobzerova
Louisiana and Mississippi lead the U.S. in heartworm cases.

Unfortunately, treatment for heartworm is expensive, and can cost as much as $2,000 for one animal. In the worst cases, pets suffering from heartworm are euthanized, even though the disease is 100% avoidable.

Louisiana and Mississippi continue to be the leading states for heartworm infection, the American Heartworm Society reports. Just 5 states in the south now account for 51% of all pet euthanasia in the country, with Louisiana having the highest rate in the U.S. And the reality for many shelters is bleak: According to the News Star, Ouachita Parish Animal Shelter in Northern Louisiana, for example, euthanizes nearly 35% of its population—about 1,500 adoptable pets a year.

Heartworm disease is preventable but treatment can be costly.

Source: Adobe Stock/Lukas Gojda
Heartworm disease is preventable but treatment can be costly.

The chances of making it out of the shelter are virtually zero for heartworm positive dogs. That’s why Greater Good Charities is sending Good Flights to meet shelter partners in the heavily affected state of Louisiana where they will move 2,000 animals to recipient groups to find their forever homes over the course of 12 months. Half of those animals will be asymptomatic heartworm positive dogs. They will be pre-treated prior to transport according to American Heartworm Society (AHS) guidelines.

Take the pledge top protect your pet and others from heartworm disease.

Source: Adobe Stock/Halfpoint
Take the pledge top protect your pet and others from heartworm disease.

Greater Good Charities will cover the cost of the Good Flights and ground transport beginning in April 2021, Heartworm Awareness month, and we will supply participating shelters with:

  • Cash grants towards care which includes mentorship with the anchor shelters on diagnosis, treatment, and care of heartworm dogs in the shelter
  • Needed pharmaceutical products such as Immitcide®, Heartgard®, Nexgard®, and doxycycline
  • In-kind animal care items such as crates, blankets, bowls, leashes, and collars Foster initiatives and support
  • Testing kits
Heartworm treatment can cost as much as $2,000 for one animal.

Source: Adobe Stock/Vasyl
Heartworm treatment can cost as much as $2,000 for one animal.

This may mark the last summer for many dogs if they do not receive the heartworm treatment they need this year. But you can make a difference. Pledge to protect pets by understanding the signs of heartworm and sharing the importance of the Good Flights program.

Click below and make a difference!

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Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.
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