We would like you to meet a very special greyhound with heartworm infection named Jilly Bean. She came to us a couple of weeks ago and she’s been undergoing some tests to help us plan the best course for her continued treatment. The first round of test results came back a few days ago and we are hopeful that she can make a full recovery. Her organs are functioning normally and her blood values are within normal range. Her physical exam went well and our vet was so pleased when she could not hear any signs of heartworm infestation in her heart or lungs and she was showing no clinical signs, like shortness of breath, coughing or fatigue. We are thankful that the folks at Mobile Greyhound Park Adoptions caught this in the early stages and started treatment and we are honored that we can continue to provide for her medical needs.
Although heartworm infestation is relative rare in racing and newly retired greyhounds, due to the diligence of caretakers providing regular heartworm prevention, no prevention is 100% effective in all dogs. We are learning a great deal from Jilly Bean’s case and she has reminded us to never take heartworm for granted. (NOTE: For more information on heartworm, please check out the American Heartworm Society at http://www.heartwormsociety.org/)
Over the next month, Jill will be give an antibiotic called minocycline that will kill off the bacteria around her heart that the worms feed on. This drug, taken twice daily, should weaken and perhaps kill off some of the worms. Jill will continue with her monthly heartworm prevention (ivermectin) and on May 14th, Jill will receive her first injected dose of a medication designed to kill the worms. She will need to stay in the hospital for observation the entire day. Jill will receive several more injections monthly and will be retested for heartworm in six months. We may need to take some x-rays of her heart, depending on how her treatment goes.
We are extremely grateful to David and Melissa, managers at East Cherokee Storage in Woodstock, GA and Leaving Tracks, Inc. for their very generous donation that should just about cover Jill’s vet bills.
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Jilly Bean has been taking an antibiotic called minocycline for a month. This antibiotic is helpful in killing the bacteria around the heart, and in turn, weakening the heartworms. On May 14, Jilly received her first injection to kill the adult worms, called immiticide, deep in her muscle. You can see the area on her back where they shaved the hair to prepare for the injection in the photo above. Because the injection is deep, it is also painful and Jilly has been taking pain meds to make her more comfortable and reduce the swelling.
Jill will need to be on restricted activity for 30 days, to help prevent the dead worms from blocking her lungs. She will receive two more immiticide injections in June and be on restricted activity again.
As we care for Jill, we are learning more about heartworms. Here are some facts from the America Heartworm Society …
1. Nearly 100% of dogs bitten by infected mosquitoes become infective.
2. Heartworms can live 5-7 years in a dog.
3. It’s not uncommon to find more than 30 worms in an infected dog and the worms can grow to be 12 inches.
Jilly Bean has been through a lot in the past month or so. On June 10th and 11th, she underwent 2 injections of immiticide for heartworms and spent both days at the vet hospital for observation. Luckily, she was fine and we’re hopeful that all the heartworms have died. We still need to keep her calm and quiet until mid-August, to help prevent dead clumps of heartworms from moving into her lungs or blocking her heart. Jilly seems content with her restricted activity and is a little shy and reserved by nature. Her story has touched so many people and recently, she received a very special present from a very special family – a “jelly bean” patterned bandana just for her!
After all the treatments and months of restricted activity and waiting, we learned that Jilly still is testing positive for heartworm. While it’s possible that the antigens haven’t cleared yet from her system, it’s more likely that she’s been infected with the resistant strain of heartworm common in the south. We are treating her with doxycycline for 4 weeks, and will retest again in 8 weeks and see what happens. Please keep this sweet girl in your thoughts.
It’s been a long year for Jilly Bean, but she’s finally free from those nasty heartworms. Because she contracted a resistant strain, it took over a year and repeated treatments to get them all. But, she’s doing well, is healthy, up to date on everything and ready for adoption! She’d prefer a quiet home as she’s very sweet, but timid. She’s okay with the other greyhounds here and tested small dog safe at the track.
Happy, Happy 4th Birthday, Jilly Bean. We had hoped that you would have found your forever home by now, but you are more than welcome to stay here for as long as you want. We are touched by your quiet presence everyday and we love you as our own.
Here’s Jilly, waiting to meet a potential adopter. Sadly, things didn’t work out and Jilly is still looking for her forever home.
Happy Birthday, Miss Beans. Jilly doesn’t like the camera and she isn’t fond of being groomed either. Here’s a rare photo of her checking out the storage closet.
It’s been over 2 1/2 years since Jilly Bean came to us. She was in the Sanctuary for a full year as we treated her for her resistant strain of heartworms. Once cleared, Jilly moved to the adoptable list, but, sadly, the right home hasn’t come along yet. Jilly can be challenging at times. She prefers to spend her days in her crate, chewing on her collection of nylabones and will shred any and all bedding to her liking. Jilly can be aggressive with other dogs and needs her personal space. She’s very shy with strangers and rarely comes out to meet visitors. She’s happy with us, so perhaps she is meant to stay. We will give her another month or two on the adoptable list and if her forever home never comes, she’ll stay with us and become a Sanctuary dog, once again.