Dora on the mend

Once upon a time, adoptable Miss Dora the Explorer lived outside in a yard with several other dogs. She and her siblings had little shelter and no access to vet care. The yard that was their home was not very secure, so Dora would take herself for walks around the neighborhood from time to time.  Not surprisingly, she ended up a teenage mom.

Luckily Dora’s people did care for her as well as they felt able, and when they heard about a free pit bull spay/neuter day in their neighborhood in East Austin, they decided to walk her over.

It turned out Dora had heartworm. Heartworm is a type of parasite that travels from host to host via mosquito bite.  The heartworms live in arteries and lung tissue, and can eventually enter the heart. Mild and early cases of heartworm are often asymptomatic, while more severe cases can present as fainting, fast exhaustion during exercise, loss of appetite, weight loss, or a bloody cough. If heartworm is not treated, it can lead to much suffering and heart failure.

After some conversations with Love-a-Bull, Dora’s person agreed to surrender her. He could not provide her the care she needed, and understood that she would be better off in another home. It’s hard to overstate how much we admire this gentleman’s courage for giving her the opportunity to have the life she deserves instead of giving in to the very human urge to keep what is dear to him — his sweet little dog.

For the past couple of months, Dora has successfully undergone heartworm treatment. The treatment is long, complicated, somewhat risky, and very expensive. The most common potion used to treat heartworm includes a form of arsenic as a key ingredient — the roundworms are basically poisoned slowly with low doses of a deadly toxin. During the months-long treatment period, it is imperative to keep the dog calm because the meds are very taxing for the dog’s system. After the course of treatment is through, the dog has to stay cool and mellow for another few weeks or months, and then — if all goes well — we all do a little victory dance and go for a nice vigorous run.

Our sweet Miss Dora passed her treatment with flying colors and came out healthy as a horse. Judging by this girl’s bouncy attitude, you wouldn’t guess that her system was overrun by nasty little roundworms just a couple of months ago. Dora is still in the nice-and-easy stage of post-treatment, but she can’t wait to put on her dancing shoes and celebrate her new-found perfect health!

For more info on adopting Dora the Explorer, click here or contact us at info [at] loveandaleash [dot] com.

18 responses

  1. Dashy had heartworm when we got him too. Having to keep him calm was interesting in those last few weeks when my Harley-monster was ready to play, and he was still on restriction, but he was such a doll and didn’t make the experience worse than it could have been. He now has a clean bill of health, and can run free with his overly-energetic older sister :).

  2. Yay Dora!!! Looking forward to the day when you and Chick can run around your yard (and foster mama can takes pics to share with us!).

  3. Whoa! You haven’t started moving yet? I can’t wait to see you in action. I’m glad you have beaten the heartworm. It’s such an easily preventable disease. Thank you, previous owner, for giving your Dora a second chance. I hope you can see pictures of her now.

  4. Congratulations to Dora! One comment regarding heartworms: heartworms and roundworms are two different parasites that inhabit different parts of the body. Worms are worms to some folks, as they were to me, before I started working in a veterinary practice.

    • Interesting. I thought that heartworms were a type of parasitic roundworm? I know that when people say “my dog has roundworm” they are referring to a different type, but isn’t heartworm a subset of roudnworm?

      • Yur are both sort of right – heartworms (Dirofilaria immitis) are a type of roundworm. Another type of roundworm (Toxocara canis) lives in the gut and is the type of roundworm that folks usually refer to as “worms.”

      • Aleksandra, I’m not a vet, and I’m using online references so that others can easily access the same information. There’s the American Heartworm Society at – scroll down to see that heartworms are referred to as “Dirofilaria immitis”. Then there’s the Merck Veterinary Manual at which refers to the large roundworms that live in the digestive system as “ascaridoid nematodes”, with 3 species Toxocara canis , Toxascaris leonina , and Toxocara cati.
        I appreciate all you do to support animal rescue. If heartworm is a subset of roundworm, I’m not aware of it.

  5. I’m so glad that Dora is feeling better these days. A neighbor’s dog had heartworm and it’s so unpleasant. I felt terrible watching the little dogger go through that treatment.

  6. Hi Ruth, thank you for this in-depth research. It does say in the first link (from that “Heartworms are classified as nematodes (roundworms) and are filarids, one of many species of roundworms.” However, I agree that they should not be confused with what we commonly refer to as just “roundworms” which live in the digestive system and are pretty different.

    Who knew we could learn so much from this little Dora of ours!

    • It makes me smile to think that as humans we think we’re going to teach our animals but in the end they always end up teaching us much more. LOVE what you do and LOVE reading about it and looking at the pictures. You’ve got such a beautiful talent with words and pictures….and doggies. Give Chick and Dora big squeezes!

  7. Oh, Dora, heartworm too? 😦

    I’m glad that her owners did the right thing, though, and surrendered her to people who could take good care of her.

  8. So glad she made it through! We know how trying that treatment can be… at lot of Homeward Bound’s dogs stay with our TN foster and recover before coming to NY for adoption. Such a beautiful girl! Must have been hard to let her go, but we’re oh so glad they did… what a great life she will have!

  9. Poor Dora. My parents adopted a dog with heartworm not long ago. She’s the third dog in their house (obviously my dog obsession is genetic!) and keeping her calm during her treatment wasn’t easy. Luckily she’s come through it great too though and now she plays like crazy with the other dogs 🙂 I can’t wait to see Dora in action!

  10. Our foster dog Darby who looks a lot like Dora was also HW. We are six weeks out from last TX and the boy really wants to play. He even tried to engage one of our cats. These poor dogs…just a little while longer then the games can begin.

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