Heartworm treatment in dogs has come a long way in the past decade.
So your dog has tested positive for heartworms.
What next? We’ve learned much about treating dogs successfully for heartworms. But not everything you read online can be relied upon.
Every dog in the 48 states should be tested yearly for heartworms. It involves a blood test that is done in our clinic and only takes a few minutes. If the test is negative then it’s important to put Fido on a good heartworm prevention program. But what if he’s positive?
First, know that most cases of heartworms in dogs can be treated.
In fact, if no symptoms are present, we can successfully treat 95% of positive dogs. Treatment here at our clinic involves preliminary lab work including blood chemistries and chest radiographs (x-rays) to evaluate both the heart and the organs we depend on to process the medicine used to treat and kill the heartworms. Then, depending on the individual case, special injections will be given in the large muscles in the back that will poison the worms over several days. Two injections are usually given 24 hours apart. In some cases, this treatment will be split into two sessions, a first session involving only one injection, followed in a month by a second session where two injections are given. This depends upon the condition of the pet and whether we feel that the disease is more advanced in that patient.
Once treatment is finished, rest is essential for several weeks. This allows the body to process the dead, decaying worms to remove the debris from the lungs. Finally, another heartworm test will be given about 4 months post treatment to be sure all worms have died.
Now… about so called “slow kill” methods.
We do NOT recommend this cheaper, beating-around-the-bush-type treatment. And neither does the American Heartworm Society, the foremost authority in heartworm disease and treatment in the U.S. This is because the longer the worms are allowed to remain in the heart, the more permanent damage they can cause in the pulmonary blood vessels. Waiting for the worms to die for multiplied months through a slow kill approach can cause changes in those vessels that cannot be reversed and may cause circulatory disease and loss of the pet.
So, the take home:
Test your dog yearly. Keep Fido on a good reputable heartworm prevention. And please call us at The Rannals Small Animal Hospital at 903-839-7235 for any questions. Heartworm treatment in dogs can be successful if properly done.