Jay’s Story: How Heartworm Disease Touches Our Lives

April is National Heartworm Awareness Month

When Jay, a beautiful, joyful, playful 2 year old black Lab came to SFAS during Fall 2008, we found out that he had a massive load of heartworms. Due to the severity of his heartworm infestation, we had to put him through the taxing and often dangerous Immiticide treatment to kill the adult worms. Jay’s condition was so serious that he remained boarded at the clinic under constant Veterinary supervision for over 6 weeks. Even after the heartworm treatment was successfully completed, the heartworms left Jay with a severely damaged heart putting him into chronic Congestive Heart Failure.

He was able to come back to the Sanctuary, much to our own happiness, but his activities had to be closely monitored at first and he required a multitude of daily medications and regular treatments. But we were committed to providing Jay with a joyful, happy life for as long as possible. For over two years, he lived with us at the Sanctuary where we could ensure that his condition was being managed well and that he was still getting all the treatments he needed to stay healthy and strong. He was the single most “joyful” dog we’ve ever had the pleasure of caring for. He insisted on getting more than his fair share of playtime each day from his caregivers and would even manage to entertain himself for hours with his toys, anything from a ball, Frisbee or his Kong toys.

Jay with his kongSadly, Congestive Heart Failure is an incurable condition and we knew that our time with Jay was limited. One Sunday morning this past February, Jay’s condition worsened rapidly. He was suddenly uninterested in his food and his toys, and he had an onset of labored breathing. He just didn’t seem have any enthusiasm or joy left. We realized at that moment, he was ready to cross over to Rainbow Bridge – so all the caregivers said their good-byes and we took him in to end his suffering. We all know he’ll be at Rainbow Bridge, with a Kong Frisbee in his mouth, waiting to play with us again someday.

Jay was, and remains, a perfect example of our mission. To provide the best care possible, with love, respect and compassion for every orphaned animal possible. Please share Jay’s story with everyone you know so that his short life, could have been a much longer, even more fulfilling had he never contracted heartworms.

Prevention and early treatment of existing infestations can help to avoid a scenario like Jay’s.