WACO, TX — Heartworm can be turn into a deadly disease if not treated properly or soon enough. Thankfully, there are preventative measures you can take to lower the risk of heartworm in your pet.
It's this time of year when the Animal Birth Control Clinic in Waco sees an increase in cases.
"As it sounds, it's literal worms in the heart, and that's the thing, you think about heart failure, which obviously can lead to death in the end," explained Kimberly Kelley, a vet tech at the ABC Clinic.
Heartworm is transmitted by mosquitoes.
The insects bite an already infected dog and then pass the heartworm along to another. In Texas, you can't get rid of mosquitoes, so it's important to take preventative measures.
Tearria Heslip is doing just that with her new puppy, Apollo, by taking him to the vet for all his shots and heartworm prevention.
"It's time for mosquitoes to come out, and they're going to be biting all on him because he's going to be outside in the water, so they're sure going to get him," Heslip said.
Prevention is easy, experts say. All you have to do is give your dog a chewable tablet once a month. ABC Clinic provides them for $6.
Kelley says this time of year, when the weather gets warmer, is when heartworm cases start to increase.
"Now is for sure the time you'll want to start getting treatment or to get prevention," she said.
According to the American Heartworm Society, since 2001, cases and spread have gradually increase throughout the United States. In Central Texas, clinics can see anywhere from 51 to over 100 cases.
Since Heslip can't talk to her dog, it's hard to tell when they're hurt, so she's taking action now before anything bad happens.
"There's no telling what those mosquitoes got, what are they carrying, and they can take him down real quick without me even knowing it," she said.