Heartworm Treatment in Dogs: What You Need to Know

Heartworms kill over time by damaging tissue in a dog’s heart and lungs. How much damage depends on several factors. For example:

  1. your dog’s activity level,
  2. the number of heartworms, and
  3. how long the heartworms have been around.

As the heartworms do more damage, your dog will start exhibiting symptoms such as:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Coughing
  • Unusual tiredness or lethargy

As the damage gets worse, your dog will start to show more severe and immediate symptoms. This includess Congestive Heart Failure or Pulmonary Failure. The final stage is death.

Heartworm Treatment

The best thing you can do for your dog once you know they’ve tested positive is to take them to a veterinarian for heartworm positive dogs

treatment. Dogs with no signs or mild signs of heartworm disease have a very high success rate with treatment.

The more advanced the heartworm disease is, the more complications can arise with treatment (and the riskier the treatment becomes).

Treatment generally runs from $600 – $1800 (with no complications), and consists of a three-dose regimen of melarsomine to kill off the adult heartworms.

Low Cost Treatment Options

At our full-service clinic in Irving, we provide low cost heartworm treatment. Usually, we can provide treatment for under $500. We also offer payment plans, and can work with your budget to find a treatment plan that you can offer your pet.

The exact cost depends on your dog’s current condition, weight and the vet you see. There can also be fees for additional diagnostics and tests that you can do, but in the end no matter how many tests you run, you still want to treat your dog. Those tests aren’t going to significantly change the treatment process, unless your dog is already in heart failure. Keep this in mind when deciding how to proceed.

Finally, we offer $25 heartworm treatment consultations so you can get more information about heartworm treatment, as well as an estimate for your dog’s treatment with us. These no-risk, no-obligation consultations are available Monday – Friday, 8am – 5pm. Just call us or schedule your appointment at lowcostpetvet.net!

Prevention and Damage Control

If heartworm treatment isn’t an option for you due to financial or other concerns, you can keep your dog more comfortable and extend their life with certain medications.

Even if you do plan to treat the heartworms, we recommend starting your dog on heartworm preventative first.

By starting your dog on preventative before treatment, you’ll kill the most immature stage (“baby” heartworms) and prevent your dog from getting any more heartworms. This also prevents you from having to go through heartworm treatment twice. Adulticide treatment only kills adult worms – not the young and growing stages. Nothing kills the “in-between” or juvenile heartworm stages.

Give the first heartworm preventative pill as prescribed by your vet to prevent any negative reaction. Heartworm positive dogs can have a potentially severe reaction with the first heartworm preventative tablet. This is because millions of larval heartworms will be killed. Pre-treating with antihistamine and/or cortisone as prescribed by the vet can prevent this.

Antihistamine Dosage: the usual dosage is 1 mg of Diphenhydramine (Benadryl) per pound of dog’s body weight. Give this 30-60 minutes before the first few monthly heartworm preventative tablets.

After administering heartworm preventative, observe the dog for at least 8 hours to make sure they don’t have a reaction.

It is also important to limit your dog’s activity as much as you can. Keep them on a leash when outside or in a cage as much as possible! This limits the damage caused by heartworms.

Finally, always ask your vet. If treatment isn’t be an option now but will be later, we can work with you to custom tailor an approach that’s best for you and your dog.

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  For additional information on this and many other illnesses and conditions of pets, visit our resource library at http://www.lowcostpetvaccinations.net/pet-health-library/