“Is your dog on heartworm prevention?” Most pet owners can recall begin asked this as part of every routine visit to their veterinarian. Unfortunately, if the answer is no, there is a high chance of your pet becoming infected with the dangerous and potentially fatal parasite Dirofilaria immitis, more commonly known as heartworm disease.

Heartworm disease affects dogs, cats and ferrets, but is most commonly seen in dogs. Heartworms spend most of their lives in the heart, lungs and blood vessels of dogs- this is where they reach maturity, mate, and produce offspring. However, they are then transmitted as offspring (also known as microfilaria) in the bloodstream through the mosquito. Our pets can become infected with microfilaria through the bite of just one mosquito, which is why prevention is so important. Heartworm preventatives are available from veterinarians and are given monthly.

Most veterinarians like to test annually for heartworm disease, especially in dogs. Your veterinarian is the best resource for when your dog should be tested. Depending on your dog’s lifestyle, testing can begin as early as six months, and is most commonly repeated annually. Veterinarians generally use a simple blood test called an antigen test that will show the presences of mature female heartworms in the bloodstream. Since heartworms undergo the majority of their life cycle in a dog’s bloodstream, the test cannot be performed until the heartworms reach maturity, which occurs six months after the initial infection. Once a dog is infected, they may display symptoms in a wide range, and some dogs may not even show any symptoms. These symptoms can be displayed at a mild level such as occasional coughing and fatigue after periods of activity, and can increase to an extreme or life-threatening level such as difficulty breathing, heart failure and, if left untreated, even death.

A new medical case study has shown just how important intensive monitoring is during the course of the treatment of heartworm disease. Routine treatment for heartworm disease includes: strict rest, bloodwork, x-rays, injections of of a drug that kills adult heartworms, and hospitalization. This new study has included the use of the PetPace smart collar to assist owners and veterinarians in ensuring that dogs infected with heartworms have the highest chance of recovery possible. By using the PetPace wearable technology, veterinarians and pet owners have the ability to capture a real-time summary of the pet’s activity level, as a quiet environment and strict rest are vital contributors in the recovery of a pet undergoing heartworm treatment.

This new case study captures the importance of the PetPace smart collar technology in the treatment of a three-year-old pit bull named Jimmy. Jimmy was diagnosed with heartworm disease by his veterinarian and began undergoing treatment. By utilizing the non-invasive smart collar on Jimmy, his owner was able to set alerts when Jimmy became too active, and help to decrease his chances of life-threatening complications due to over activity. The parameters for these alerts were determined by his veterinarian, who was also able to obtain real-time documentation of Jimmy’s activity level. Jimmy’s owner and veterinarian were also able to see other vital signs and behaviors that Jimmy was displaying during his recovery period to monitor for additional potentially fatal complications associated with the treatment of heartworm disease. They were able to access this data through a sophisticated Cloud-based analytical engine that evaluates Jimmy’s vital signs and behavior and communicates to the owner via a mobile application as well as a web-based platform, accessible to both his owner and veterinarian.

With the help of the PetPace smart collar, Jimmy’s owner was able to decrease his activity level by over 50%, as you can see in the above graph. Jimmy’s veterinarian, Dr. Dick Hay, a Diplomate of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners voices his appreciation of the use of the technology in Jimmy’s recovery, stating, “Until now, veterinarians had no effective way of knowing if the patient is truly resting at home as we instructed. The PetPace wearable technology allows us, for the first time, to work together with the owners to achieve the common goal.” Both pet owners and veterinarians would agree, total pet health is the common goal for everyone, and the PetPace smart collar is an innovative addition to the treatment plan for heart worm disease. If you suspect that your dog may be suffering from symptoms of heartworm disease or is due for prevention, please contact your veterinarian.

Sources: http://www.fda.gov/animalveterinary/resourcesforyou/animalhealthliteracy/ucm188470.htm