Thursday, March 28 2013, 04:37 PM CDT
April: Heartworm Disease Prevention Month
BEAUMONT - By Megan Dillard - Many people consider their pets part of the family.
That's why experts have devoted April to raise awareness about heartworm disease prevention.
Numbers show nearly 40% of U.S. households have at least one dog.
The American Heartworm Society estimates only 55% of dogs in the U.S. are on a heartworm preventative medication, leaving 27 million dogs at risk for the disease.
KFDM explains more about the disease and tells the story of one woman whose dog survived it.
We often call them man's best friend.
This woman can't measure just how much her dogs mean to her.
Betty Biddle took her pair of pooches for a walk Wednesday afternoon in a Beaumont park.
Connor wasn't always this healthy and active.
"They were going to take him to Houston to adopt him and when I found out he had heartworms, I decided I'd put him through the treatment."
A treatment that worked for this dog, but one experts say is painful, expensive, and preventable.
"It's so prevalent in this area and we really like people to know and to take care of their pets."
Judith Perkins works at Delaware Animal Clinic.
She explains dogs get the disease from mosquitoes who bite then lay eggs that get through the skin. Worms then grow in the dog's heart.
"There's an obstruction. It's an obstruction in their heart and in their pulmonary arteries, so it's affecting the heart and the lungs."
Perkins says the illness is preventable through pills, injections, or topical ointments.
"This is one that's a chewable."
Medication she says costs about $10 a month.
"We appreciate the people that bring in their pets and keep them on a preventative."
People like Betty Biddle who says proper care isn't hard.
It's more a walk in the park.
"I have it on my calendar and every month, the first of the month, they get a pill."
Experts say many people believe flea medication alone will prevent heartworms, but that's not the case.
For more information on the disease, stop by your vet's office.