Orange County Animal Services’ Heartworm Treatment Sponsorship Program

Per the American Heartworm Society: “Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease in pets in the United States and many other parts of the world. It is caused by foot-long worms (heartworms) that live in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels of affected pets, causing severe lung disease, heart failure and damage to other organs in the body.”

Heartworm disease is both preventable and treatable!

Approximately 10% of the dogs arriving at Orange County Animal Services test positive for heartworm disease. The cost for treatment can vary from a couple hundred dollars up to and beyond $1,000. Due to the financial burden, adopters are often deterred from taking in these dogs.

In an effort to increase adoptions and ease the costs associated with heartworm disease treatment, Orange County Animal Services offers a heartworm disease treatment program. At this point in time, the shelter is sponsoring the heartworm disease treatment for dogs adopted and rescued through the shelter.

Local businesses that want to support this effort, and earn a bit of promotion for their name and cause, are welcome to join the program as a sponsor for individual dogs. If interested in learning more, please email

Those wanting to help the effort are also encouraged to consider donating to the shelter’s Trust Fund, which currently supports the sponsorship costs. Monetary donations can be made online and in person at the shelter.

Heartworm is a parasitic roundworm that is spread from host to host through the bites of mosquitoes. When a dog is bitten by an infected mosquito, the transmitted larvae mature into adult heartworms. They then begin reproducing in the heart, lungs and surrounding blood vessels.

Heartworm disease is treatable if diagnosis is made and treatment is started early enough, but it can be fatal if ignored. It is also highly preventable. Orange County Animal Services recommends proactive care through heartworm preventative medication.

Common Misconceptions

  • Misconception: Dogs can give heartworms to their owners.
    • Reality: People cannot get heartworms from their dogs. It’s a species-specific parasite that affects only dogs and occasionally cats.
  • Misconception: Heartworm is contagious from one dog directly to another.
    • Reality: Dogs cannot transmit heartworms to each other directly. Only a bite from an infected mosquito can transmit the disease.
  • Misconception: Heartworm is inevitable.
    • Reality: Heartworm disease can be avoided by treating your dog with heartworm preventatives either topically, by pill or via injections.
  • Misconception: Once a dog has been treated for heartworm, he or she can’t get heartworm ever again.
    • Reality: A dog can get heartworm disease even after he or she has been successfully treated and cured. That’s why prevention is so crucial.

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