Indianapolis' warm winter is expected to create a larger mosquito population that may raise the risk of unprotected pets getting heartworms. For that reason, several area clinics are discounting heartworm testing.
"We found out that we were three weeks late on our heartworm [medicine]. We ran out," said Joel Cole, who was inside the Humane Society of Indianapolis' clinic on Tuesday afternoon with his Australian Shepherd, who he said is more like his child.
"We're expecting to see more incidences of heartworm-positive dogs because of the warmer winter," said Jessica Lifford, Vaccine Clinic Manager.
When the heartworms have matured inside an animal, they damage blood vessles and reduce the heart's pumping ability which can prove deadly.
Several dogs that are inside the adoption area are looking for forever homes and medical donations. They are heartworm positive, and Lifford said the medication can be difficult to get, and it can cost between $800 and $1,500. The medicine can also be hard on an animal.
"They go through a series of deep muscle tissue injections," she said.
Near Downtown Indianapolis, the FACE Low Cost Spay/Neuter Clinic just started discounting its heartworm testing on Fridays.
"We really want to encourage owners to be more proactive," said Dr. Jackie Busch, who has worked at the FACE clinic for several years.
They are expecting many more positive test results in six to eight months now that the weather is warming up. That is the amount of time it takes for the heartworms to develop inside a dog or even a cat.
Heartworm preventatives, on the other hand, can cost about $25 for a six month supply. That depends on the type of medicine and the size of a pet.
"Heartworm is one of the most easily preventable diseases that we see in veterinary medicine, but it's also fatal so for dollars a month you're really saving your pet's life," said Dr. Busch.
Heartworms cannot travel from dog to dog. A mosquito is the carrier.
Clinics offer discounted testing after warm winter raises heartworm risk
Several Indianapolis clinics are offering discounted heartworm testing after a warm winter. The expectation is that the warm weather created a larger population of mosquitoes which increases the chances of unprotected pets getting infected with heartworms.