LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - It is estimated that over 1 million dogs in the U.S. are diagnosed with heartworm disease each year, and Lufkin veterinarian Craig Cook hopes to help lower that number.
"One of the major issues we have with pets in east Texas is heart worms," Wood said. "It is because of our warm, humid climate."
Heartworms are a threadlike, round worm that goes straight for the heart. The spread can be stopped, but once inside, the worms can cause damage that could lead to heart failure. the disease affects dogs and is transmitted by a mosquito that feeds on an infected dog.
"We are all about prevention with it," Wood said. "Once you have a dog with heartworms, you don't want to have it again."
Wood said keeping your property clear of anything that attracts mosquitoes is a good starting point, but keeping your dog locked in the yard can only go so far.
"You think you are protecting your dog because it is in the fenced yard, but what you don't realize is half a mile away or three blocks over or the coyote in the woods is carrying it and a mosquito bites it and then carries it to your house."
"The main thing we emphasize is keep your dog on a heartworm preventative, and keep them tested. It's very common in the south," Wood said.
While the preventative medicine does seem like a big cost, it's small compared to the price it costs to fight the worms once they have infected a household pet.
"It can range fro $500 to $1,000 just to treat the dog to get rid of the worms, but by then the damage may already be done."