Protect pets from potentially deadly summer mosquitoes

KANSAS CITY –  It’s been a wet summer in Kansas City, and doctors from BluePearl Veterinary Partners are warning pet owners that rain leads to an increase in mosquitoes, which  spread dangerous and damaging heartworms.

It’s a reality Dr. Laura Hatton knows all too well. Hatton, a board-certified cardiologist with BluePearl, recently performed surgery to remove an unusually large number of heartworms from Raymond, a 2-year-old Yorkshire terrier who was brought as a stray to the Humane Society of Greater Kansas City.

Raymond (photo courtesy of the Humane Society of Greater Kansas City)

Raymond (photo courtesy of the Humane Society of Greater Kansas City)

Kate Fields, the organization’s CEO, said they brought Raymond to BluePearl because they believed he had a heart murmur and had been recently diagnosed with heartworm disease. A cardiac ultrasound showed the deadly parasitic worms had grown so numerous, they had not only infiltrated the important blood vessels affecting blood flow to his heart and lungs, but had migrated into his right heart and were entrapped around his tricuspid valve – a condition called caval syndrome.

“In a case this advanced, if you don’t get the worms out in a short amount of time, most dogs won’t make it,” Hatton said.

Hatton was able to find the worms and successfully remove them from Raymond’s heart by passing an instrument down his jugular vein and into the right heart, grasping

Post-op heartworms. (BluePearl Veterinary Partners photo)

Post-op heartworms. (BluePearl Veterinary Partners photo)

the worms and pulling them out.  Today, Raymond is back to his happy, energetic self and is available for adoption. Those interested in learning more are encouraged to click here or visit the Humane Society of Greater KC’s website.

Fortunately, Raymond is now receiving the care he needs to stay healthy, Hatton said. But the case is a good reminder to be vigilant when it comes to protecting pets from heartworms. Hatton recommends talking to your primary care veterinarian family to ensure your pet is receiving the proper preventative medicine.

“Heartworms are entirely preventable,”   she added. “It’s much safer and cheaper to maintain monthly heartworm prevention than to try to treat existing heartworms.”