Stray Rescue of St. Louis

Together, we can heal their hearts…literally!

January 29, 2021 | 11:33am


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Did you know? Nearly half of the dogs we rescue have Heartworm Disease. With thousands of dogs rescued every year, the number with heartworm disease is astounding. Our adoption team often hears that families are unaware of what this actually is, so we are here to help!

This disease does not have to be a death sentence like many believe, and it’s actually easy to prevent. But once a dog has heartworms, the treatment is lengthy, expensive, and absolutely necessary for survival. Treatment costs are a whopping $1,200 per dog, and their recovery time is about three months. Many people believe it's a rare disease or may not quite understand what damage heartworms can actually cause. At Stray Rescue, it's something we deal with on a daily basis, so it’s our responsibility to spread awareness and inform our fellow animal-lovers about this disease.


We have rescued dogs slowly losing their battle to this silent killerwhich iscaused bya single mosquito bite.We have dogs literally on the brink of death from heart failure as a result of long-term damage from the disease. Our most recent rescue with a severe case of heartworms is Pacino. At first, he looked pregnant, but when we realized he was a boy, it quickly and sadly set in that his belly is full of fluid from advanced heartworms. 


And, it’s absolutely heartbreaking when a newly rescued dogtests positive. Not only is treatment hard on the dogs (arsenic-based injections), but it costs the shelteran exorbitantamount of money. However, it is worth every single penny because they are able to live a normal, loved, long, fun lifeafter treatment is over! 

Some of our recent babies who have healed completely and are living normal lives are Gala, Jumbo Jack, and Maxwell Smart!



For more information, please scroll down to the FAQ section. You'll learn everything you need to know about heartworms. You'll know how to keep your own pets safe, to know it's OK to adopt a dog going through treatment, and why it is so common. Here is a list of all of the dogs we currently have going through treatment:

  • ​​Kensington
  • Pi
  • Timmy
  • Cruse
  • Fritz
  • KC
  • Loco
  • Choppo
  • Almond
  • Deedee
  • Marley
  • Rhea
  • Midnight
  • Rebel
  • Mithra
  • Pacino
  • Pennie
  • Seranna
  • Silvester
  • Ella
  • Wildling
  • Shield
  • Holly
  • Kermit
  • Chloe
  • Aggie Marble
  • Ladybird
  • Mummy
  • Ada
  • Tikka
  • Big Sweets
  • Fly
  • Marianne
  • Beach Ball Marble
  • Hadley
  • Smiley
  • Ears
  • Pacino
  • Ben Hargreeves
  • Bedford Falls
  • Batata
  • Fleece

They deserve a long and happy life, just as much as any other pup we rescue! Won’t you help us help them go on to live? Have a heart by healing theirs!

Donate and help an infected dog by clicking their photo! 

Together, we will heal their hearts!

When you make a donation to our heartworm campaign, you'll get a virtual heart with your name on it! We will also fill our lobby with your hearts! 
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And remember to keep your dogs healthy and heartworm-free by giving them a preventative once a month! 

FAQ: Here are some common questions we are asked:

Q: How do dogs get heartworms? 

A: Only from the bite of an infected mosquito. There’s no other way dogs get heartworms. And there’s no way to tell if a mosquito is infected. That’s why prevention is so important.

Heartworm disease has been reported in all 50 states. And the bite of just one mosquito infected with the heartworm larvae will give your dog heartworm disease.

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Q: If one of my dogs has heartworms, can he give it to my other dogs? 

A: No. Again, the only way heartworms are transmitted is through the bite of an infected mosquito.

Q: How can I prevent my dogs from getting heartworms? 

A: There are monthly pills, monthly topicals that you put on the skin, and there’s also a six-month injectable option. The damage that’s done to the dog and the cost of the treatment is way more than the cost to prevent heartworm disease in the first place. A year’s supply of heartworm preventative will cost about $35 to $80, depending on a dog’s weight. That's much more affordable than a $1200 treatment, and all they have to go through. 

Q: What are the symptoms of heartworm infestations in dogs? 

A: Initially, there are no symptoms. But as more and more worms crowd the heart and lungs, most dogs will develop a cough. As it progresses, they won’t be able to exercise as much as before; they’ll become winded easier. With severe heartworm disease, we can hear abnormal lung sounds, dogs can pass out from the loss of blood to the brain, and they can retain fluids. Eventually, most dogs will die if the worms are not treated.

Q: Once my dog has heartworms, what’s the treatment? 

A: The drug that is used to treat heartworm is called Immiticide. It’s an injectable, arsenic-based product. The dog is given two or three injections that will slowly kill the adult heartworms in the blood vessels of the heart.

Q: Why do I have to keep my dog calm during the several months he’s being treated for heartworms? 

A: After treatment, the worms begin to die. And as they die, they break up into pieces, which can cause a blockage of the pulmonary vessels and cause death. That’s why dogs have to be kept as calm as possible during the treatment and then for several months afterward. Studies have shown that most of the dogs that die after heartworm treatment do so because the owners let them exercise.

Q: If my dog gets heartworms, and is treated for them, can he get them again? 

A: Yes, he can get them again. That’s why prevention is so important.


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