April is Heartworm Awareness Month

Annie Blumenfeld and her dog, Teddy. Photo courtesy Annie Blumenfeld via Facebook.

Heartworms kill a great number of dogs. In fact, the American Heartworm Society reports that more than one million dogs currently have heartworm disease. They also report that heartworm is a serious canine and feline health concern that threatens animals in all 48 contiguous states and Hawaii, as well as throughout the temperate regions of the world. April is Heartworm Awareness Month.

How Are Heartworms Spread?

Heartworms are spread from animal to animal by mosquitoes and live in the heart and pulmonary arteries of infected animals. The disease can lead to heart failure, as well as damage to other organs. I work with a lot of different Cocker Spaniel rescue groups, and this is a topic near and dear to my heart. Many heartworm positive dogs are relinquished to shelters and rescue. This is a preventable disease. Some folks have first hand knowledge of this disease and they act on it. Such is the case with 15-year-old Annie Blumenfeld from Connecticut. Sometimes it takes a young person to make a nation perk up and listen. With Annie, this is the case. Here’s the scoop and an interview she gives to Fidose of Reality. annie_congress

A Rescue Dog Inspires

“About two years ago my family rescued our dog, Teddy, from Houston, Texas. It was discovered he had a serious case of heartworm disease,” Blumenfeld says. “He was left inactive in a crate for two months, with many vaccinations,and x-rays. It broke my heart to see that he could not simply understand why he was in his situation and that he could not play with any of his other friends. It was such a painful, expensive, and long process that could have been easily avoided with a monthly preventive.”

Since Annie saw her dog suffering, she did some investigating and found out that not only do one million dogs in the U.S. have heartworm, but 45 percent of our dogs are unprotected. It is a disease also present in Canada, Africa, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

Taking matters into her own hands, this teenage warrior founded a nonprofit organization called Wags 4 Hope. Through the organization, Blumenfeld is able to channel her love of painting with her passion for helping animals.

But the happily ever after doesn’t end there. In fact, this is where the Annie’s journey begins.


Talking to The Government

Blumenfeld is current working with Connecticut State Representative, Tony Hwang, on a bill for heartworm disease education in all the pet stores and shelters in Connecticut. She recently presented her bill to the Environmental Committee in Hartford, which is a really big deal. Only three percent of bills are accepted for public hearing, and Fidose has the video:

Talking to Your Dog’s Veterinarian

The American Heartworm Society is also very clear about alternative therapies for this disease. Blumenfeld is adamant in sharing that there are no “natural” or herbal therapies proven to be safe and effective prevention or treatment for heartworm disease.

“It is very important that pet owners  speak to their dog’s veterinarian to make sure their dog is tested before beginning any preventative. Your dog can get very sick if they carry the parasite,” she shares.

She stresses year-round protection is imperative and to talk to your dog’s vet, of course.


Annie’s Future

She loves to paint and says she will always continue her mission for helping animals. She is very interested in business and having recently proposed my bill to the Connecticut Legislative Committee, politics is also of great interest to her. Judging by the headline she received from the New York Daily News, her future is definitely bright.

dog painting

How You Can Help

Fidose encourages you to LIKE the Wags 4 Hope Facebook page so that together, we can continue to help animals. To learn more about heartworm disease, check out the American Heartworm Society’s page. Annie’s nonprofit organization is Wags 4 Hope.

Is your dog protected from heartworm disease?

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  1. I absolutely love the awareness, and efforts she is taking! That is awesome!! I do however encourage folks to read about whether year round preventative is necessary in their area – in many areas it isn’t necessary, and there is no point in risking your dogs health (as great as some preventatives are, these still carry a risk). There are also safer protocols than monthly doses (this is often recommended just so folks remember and also to sell more doses), and combo drugs should be avoided especially in sick pets – and in my opinion, should be avoided altogether. Here is a fantastic resource from a highly esteemed vet about alternatives and safer protocols: It is followed by many dogs, for example, suffering from AIHA follow these protocols as these drugs can trigger a deathly reaction.
    Lastly, if your dog is on the list of MDR1 dogs, please make sure you are aware of drug sensitivities and test before providing them. Heartworm drugs do have side effects, and while they save lives (heartworms are nasty), giving these drugs shouldn’t be taken lightly.

  2. Working as a volunteer at our local shelter, I see this time and again.

    My pets are always rested and on meds monthly.
    Great article and very smart young woman. Live her paintings.

  3. That is great that Annie is helping spread the message about heartworm disease. Good for her and hopefully more and more people will start paying attention! There is just so many people that don’t understand the disease and how dangerous, yet easily preventable it is!

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