Falling in love with a heartworm positive dog

By Joanna D. Samson, FOTAS Vice President

You and your family have made a decision: you are ready for a new dog, and you want to adopt your new best friend from the Aiken County Animal Shelter. You visit the Shelter and walk through the adoption pods with a staff member or a FOTAS volunteer. You meet a number of prospects, but you are drawn to a handsome, two year-old black and brown shepherd mix named Bryant who stands at attention and wags his tail when you stop at his kennel. Bryant is so openly friendly, so eager to please, you are astonished to learn that he was painfully shy and scared of people when he first came to the Shelter.

Then, as you watch Bryant attempt to crawl into the lap of Darling Rios, one of the FOTAS play yard experts, like he was a fluffy little lap dog instead of the 51-pound bruiser that he is, you think, “Wow, that’s one special dog.”

There’s only one thing: Bryant is heartworm positive (HWP). What does that mean for you, and most importantly, Bryant?

The answer is: very little, because only HWP dogs who are healthy and show no clinical signs of heartworm disease are placed on the adoption floor at the Shelter.

“Dogs are infected with heartworms by mosquitoes, but it takes a long time for heartworm larvae to mature into adult, reproducing worms that can strangle the heart,” says Jennifer Miller, President of FOTAS, “so heartworm disease in a healthy, young dog is treatable with a course of antibiotics, which weakens any maturing worms, followed by monthly heartworm prevention medicine, like Heartguard, which every dog in the South should be on anyway.”

Dr. Charles Groover from the Aiken Veterinary Clinic agrees. “I have seen and treated literally thousands of dogs with heartworm disease in Mississippi and South Carolina,” says Dr. Groover. “Here in South Carolina, I almost never see a case of heartworms that cannot be treated successfully, and in most cases, the treatment is no more expensive or time-consuming than protecting a dog who has not tested positive for heartworms.”

So, go ahead. Fall in love with Bryant or any other HWP dog on the adoption floor of the Shelter, because:

Only healthy HWP dogs with no clinical signs of disease are placed on the adoption floor;

Healthy HWP dogs, with proper treatment and care, can lead the same long, healthy lives as any other dog on the adoption floor; in fact, no one who has adopted a HWP dog from the Shelter has reported that their dog became sick or died from heartworm disease;

When you adopt a dog from the County Shelter, FOTAS pays for the antibiotics and the first 6 months of Heartguard—that’s money in your pocket because you need to give your dog the monthly heartworm prevention medicine anyway; and

Treatment is easy: after the completing the course of antibiotics, one little tasty, chewy Heartguard chunk a month is all it takes to treat and protect your dog.

Come on over to the Shelter, the very handsome Bryant is waiting to crawl into your lap and love you up.

Their lives are in our hands.


Darling and Bryant
Darling and Bryant