What Is Heartworm Treatment?
If your dog has tested positive for heartworm, please call us to set up a consult visit for treatment. The consult visit will consist of a confirmatory heartworm test, along with a comprehensive exam of your pet. The veterinarian will go over the treatment process, and talk about your pet’s current health, and what to expect during treatment.
You will also be provided with a treatment plan so you are aware of the process. Please ensure you make all scheduled appointments.
Heartworm treatment is not a quick treatment; it consists of many months of treatment and care for your pet. It also is a costly treatment. We try to keep our prices as low as possible so that everyone can afford to treat their pet.
Confirmatory heartworm test (if needed)
12 months of heartworm prevention
3 Injections of Melarsomine
All antibiotics, steroids, and pain medications
Antibiotics, steroids, and pain medication to take home if needed
Follow-up consults and heartworm test
Treatment prices range from $900 to $1,100 and include all of the items above.
**For low-Income individuals receiving Food Stamps (LINK), our Project Families Forever Program helps subsidize the cost of heartworm treatment. Please ask about this program when scheduling your appointment.
How Heartworm Infects Animals
From the moment your dog is diagnosed with heartworm disease, your dog must be kept strictly confined! That means your dog should be restricted to a very small area at all times throughout the entire treatment period (the use of a small cage or crate may be necessary), and continue for 4 to 6 weeks after the last injection of melarsomine (the drug that kills adult heartworms). To ensure exercise restriction, your dog must be kept on a leash when going outside. Your veterinarian will tell you when it is permissible to gradually allow your dog to exercise again.
Your dog will be started on a once-monthly medication called a “preventive,” to kill immature heartworms and prevent new infections from developing. You should continue to give it to your pet throughout treatment as well as for the rest of his/her life.
Your dog will also be given the antibiotic doxycycline for 30 days. This medication kills bacteria that live in heartworms. These bacteria help the worms survive and reproduce. They also may cause worsening inflammation when the adult heartworms die. By giving this antibiotic prior to the medication that will kill your dog’s heartworms, we decrease the likelihood of complications from the treatment and optimize the chance for complete elimination of the infection.
First Adulticide Treatment
Two months after starting heartworm prevention, you will need to bring your dog to the clinic for the first injection of melarsomine, the drug that kills adult heartworms. Upon discharge, your veterinarian may also prescribe prednisone or another anti-inflammatory medication for your dog to reduce side effects.
Second Adulticide Treatment
One month after the first injection, two additional injections of melarsomine must be given 24 hours apart.
Interim Assessment of Health and Microfilaria Status
Your veterinarian will examine your dog to determine his/her status following treatment. This examination will include a careful physical examination with an emphasis on the heart and lungs as well as testing for circulating immature stages of heartworm (microfilaria). This interim assessment will help your veterinarian determine when your pet can gradually resume more vigorous physical activity. If microfilaria are still present, your veterinarian may prescribe an additional medication to help eliminate them and then retest at Day 150 to assess effectiveness.
Final Assessment of Efficacy
Your veterinarian will test your dog’s blood to assess the success of adulticide treatment. The goal is to eliminate all stages of heartworms from your dog.
And Your Responsibilities
Throughout the recovery period, please watch your pet for coughing, gagging, vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of appetite. Excessive sluggishness, respiratory distress, and coughing up blood are signs of a serious problem that require immediate veterinary attention.
The most important thing you can do to minimize complications during treatment is to restrict your pet’s exercise before, during and after the melarsomine injections. When adult worms die, they collapse and are pushed deeper into the smaller branches of the vessels that supply blood to the lungs. Because exercise increases blood flow to the lungs, it increases the likelihood that dead worms will block blood flow. This can result in severe complications and possibly death. The importance of restricting your dog’s activity cannot be overemphasized.