SUBSCRIBE NOW
99¢ per month. Save 90%.
SUBSCRIBE NOW
99¢ per month. Save 90%.

Navarre vet part of free heartworm prevention study

Madison Arnold
Pensacola News Journal

With her fiance laid off from his job amid the coronavirus pandemic, Heather Hayes is worried about how she'll pay for the care of her three dogs, particularly for Maybelline.

The Cantonment woman said the pit bull mix has been showing signs of a bladder infection, but she has to work out a payment plan with her veterinarian to afford the care. She's also concerned about getting flea and tick treatment for all of her dogs because the family lives in a wooded area.

"We don't really have money to take her right now, but it's an emergency so they're going to try and work with us as much as they can," Hayes said. "Our vet's going to try and do a payment plan with us and we have to kind of go from there."

A new clinical study that involves two local veterinary hospitals is aiming to help dog owners like Hayes who are struggling to afford care. The study will research new heartworm and flea and tick treatments, but participants will get those drugs for free, as well as exams, blood work for a year and gift certificates for care.

The nationwide study, run by Alchera Bio based in New Jersey, is a blind study, meaning the participants don't know which drug company is providing the medication.

Coastal Sunrise Animal Hospital in Pensacola is one of the participants in the study. Dr. Walter Gandy, a veterinarian at the hospital, said he doesn't have any dogs signed up just yet but there's been interest from his patients.

The other facility participating is St. Francis Veterinary Center in Navarre. Sign up lasts through July 31 and those interested can visit alcherabio.com/heartworm-prevention-clinical-study-dogs.

Gandy said he's had clients who are struggling with two members of the household out of work during the coronavirus pandemic, but so far people seem to still be prioritizing pet care despite the hardships.

“Most vet practices that I know have not seen a downturn since COVID-19 started,” Gandy said. “I think it’s because people are in their houses, seeing their dogs and cats, and see what’s really going on.”

The coronavirus pandemic has created another challenge for pets and their owners as well. Gandy said he's been seeing more pancreatitis cases from owners feeding their pets food they're not used to and it irritating the animals' stomach and pancreas.

"Which is usually because the owner said ‘I think you need more bacon.’ And the dog’s like 'Yes, that’s delicious,'" Gandy said. “Be careful what you feed (pets). Food isn’t love.”

Lacey Dendel said after working from home for so long, she is concerned about her dogs having separation anxiety when she goes back to work. She has three dogs, a Labrador, Italian greyhound and German shepherd.

"I think they wish I could work from home forever," Dundel said. "I'm scared they're going to have separation anxiety when I go back."

Rachel McKendree said her dogs, a golden retriever and a Lab/border collie mix that liked to make appearances in her Zoom meetings, had to adjust to her transitioning back to work after so much time together.

"We would go order takeout and the dogs would get to go. I feel like they got to go out more during all of this than they have without it," McKendree said. "Lots and lots of walks. Some days, two times a day just so that we can keep them busy."

Hayes said she's also struggling with her dogs energy levels. She said she still doesn't feel comfortable going to places like dog parks for fear of bringing the coronavirus back home to her eight-month-old son.

Gandy said his biggest piece of advice for dog owners during this time is simply plenty of walks.

“Dogs and humans need lots of exercise, and so more walks. You’re supposed to at home but you don’t have to stay at home. You can go for a walk. Wear your mask and take your dog out,” Gandy said.

Madison Arnold can be reached at marnold@pnj.com and 850-435-8522.