April Is Heartworm Awareness Month

a dog in the back of a truck

From Heartworm to Healthy: A Diamond in the Ruff

Like many, Jessica Glebowski and her husband wanted to adopt a puppy that could grow up with their two young boys. What they didn’t know, was a visit to SPCA would change their mind and hearts forever.

The Glebowski’s checked several shelters before striking gold (or shall we say, Chocolate!)

Jessica happened to see the sweet face of Cocoa, a one-year old Chocolate Lab mix, on the SPCA website. Cocoa’s profile stated that she had good manners and would be great with kids. Jessica gathered her family and said “let’s just go check her out”.

Although shy at first, Cocoa’s sweetness shined through. The Glebowski’s were beginning to fall in love, then the news hit. Cocoa was heart worm positive, a disease that frightens many adopters. Staff explained that while treatment was already underway; strict exercise restrictions and complimentary follow-up visits at SPCA Veterinary Center would be necessary for 6-8 months.

2 young boys and their trusted dog


“Cocoa was so young, I thought she still had a chance. If they could treat it, she would do fine.” Jessica said, reflecting on that day.

Heartworm disease involves blood-borne parasites which infect a dog through the bite of an infected mosquito. The parasites clog blood vessels in the heart that supply blood to other organs. During treatment, it is vital for dogs to rest and maintain a low heart rate while the heartworms break down. Without testing, it could be years and fatal before signs of infection begin to show.

At her new home Cocoa was taken on short, slow walks. Referring to Cocoa’s exercise restrictions, Jessica says, “It was really no big deal. She liked to sit in the back yard with us and watch the boys play”. Cocoa was recently cleared of the disease at SPVC and is now on a monthly heart worm preventative.

a family and their dog

Jessica is thankful she found Cocoa. “It’s a rewarding process and they deserve the chance. She is a great dog and I would have hated to have missed that.”

(Photos with the boys, Photo credit: Vander Shots Photography; Photos with family, Photo credit: Kaite Hauburger Photography)