Alabama Ranks Highest in Country for Heartworm Disease: How to Protect Your Pets

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A new survey shows Alabama has the highest rate of heartworm disease in pets in the country.

"If the weather stays below 32 for two months you're clear. We don't have that in Alabama so mosquitoes are a year round problem,” Care Animal Center Veterinarian Ken Clark said.

They bite you and they can also bite your pets.

The consequences for your four-legged friend could be near fatal if they are bit by a heartworm positive mosquito.

"It affects their lungs, their liver, it affects their kidneys. The longer it stays there the more problems it causes,” Clark said.

It can cause financial problems for you too.

Treating heartworm is a lot more expensive than preventing it from happening in the first place.

"Financially there's a big difference but the cost to the pet is what people don't remember. It cuts off years of their life. It’s the drugs that have to be given and you don't want to give that. There are always risks for that,” Clark said.

Teresa Hallford at the Wiregrass Humane Society says they see heartworm disease far too often and it's so expensive to treat, they sometimes have to turn animals away.

"Because we are a nonprofit we're not able to take in every dog that comes in with heartworms. We heartworm test all of the dogs that come through the door that are five months and older,” Hallford said.

It’s important to talk to your vet about heartworm preventative options and test for heartworm regularly.

"We have an injection for every 6 months, it takes it out of the owners hands and they don't have to remember to do it. So that is an option that is very valuable. There are medicines by mouth. Push tabs, chew tabs and there's also topical,” Clark said.

All of the options are better than nothing and you have to consider that your pet is a part of your family.

"It’s better for the pet, it’s better for the owner, it’s more economical for them so it’s a win-win for everybody,” Clark said.