12 On Your Side: Pet medication shortage could put your dog at risk

By: Elizabeth Owens Email
By: Elizabeth Owens Email
Heartworm shortage

A shortage of heartworm medication is making the lives of many dogs more difficult, as they can't be treated. (WRDW-TV / Nov. 29, 2011)

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2011

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- A national shortage of pet heartworm medicine has left some dogs fighting for their lives.

Currently, there are three dogs at the CSRA Humane Society that are heartworm positive. Magda, a terrier mix, is one of the unlucky three.

"It's a terrible way to die. A dog that has heartworms is going to have shortness of breath ... can have other heart-related symptoms," said Raynette Mayer with the CSRA Humane Society.

In the past, veterinarians could give a dog a pill and the heartworms would die. Not anymore. In August, the manufacturer of Immiticide announced they were out of the heartworm medicine. Immiticide is the only medicine created to treat adult heartworms in animals. Months after that announcement, there is still no new medication in sight.

"If we have a heartworm-positive dog we have no way to treat the dog really," Mayer said.

Dogs are infected with heartworm through mosquito bites. They get inside your dog's heart and sometimes even their lungs.

Heartworm preventive medicine is available and is the best way to keep your dog from getting heartworms. Dogs already infected with heartworm have a slow and long recovery.

"They really can't be taken out. You can't go jogging with them. You can't do any Frisbee play or anything that is really active," Mayer warned.

Vets are treating heartworm-positive dogs with preventative medicine. It keeps new heartworms from growing inside the dog but does not kill off any already there. Heartworms have a life span of about two years.

Dogs with heartworms are also harder to adopt out, according to the Humane Society. They require special attention because they can not be very active.

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