Understanding the Treatment Options for Heartworm in Pets

Good health is one of the most important things that all people seek to have. Naval Ravikant once said that a healthy person wants many things, but a sick person only wants one thing. If you think about it, that statement rings true every time you get sick. And it also applies to the people you love; when they are sick, you want nothing but to see them well. Many people feel the same way about their pets.

When a pet is sick, they try to hide it, which delays treatment. When you find out they are sick, their condition is already quite advanced. For pets that get heartworm, this is often the story. Moreover, heartworms can be fatal to pets without treatment. Heartworm treatment is quite complicated, as it could lead to your pet’s death if it is done incorrectly.


What Is Heartworm?

Heartworm disease is a dangerous animal disease, also known as dirofilariasis. The condition is caused by a parasite called Dirofilaria immitis. As the name suggests, the parasite is a worm that mainly impacts the heart. It also affects the pulmonary artery and the major blood vessels around the heart. The condition is more common in dogs, but cats and ferrets can also get it.

The female worms are the largest ones, reaching up to 14 inches long and 3 mm wide. Males, on the other hand, are half that size, and the offspring are much smaller. Most dogs can have up to 300 worms in their heart at the time of diagnosis.

Adult worms can live up to five years in a dog. Within that time, the females will reproduce, bringing about millions of tiny worms called microfilaria. These tiny worms live in small blood vessels in the animal’s body.


What Happens Now That My Dog Has Heartworm?

While risks exist with heartworm treatment, fatalities are relatively rare. In the past few decades, vets have used a drug high in arsenic, leading to toxic side effects. Today, however, there is a new drug with no side effects. Moreover, the drug has a high success rate, with over 95 percent of dogs recovering from the parasite.


Treatment Options

Heartworm treatment involves a treatment protocol that involves several drugs working together. The protocol helps manage the fallout of dying heartworms, which can lead to fatal host inflammation.


  • Melarsomine

This is the first drug in the treatment protocol. It is responsible for heartworm deaths. Vets start with an initial injection followed by a thirty-day break. If the pet has an inflammatory reaction, it can wait another month. After that, they give two more injections, 24 hours apart.


  • Doxycycline

A bacteria lives in the heartworm, which is the leading cause of inflammation after their death. Doxycycline is a drug in the treatment protocol that helps reduce the pathology of the heartworm and its infectivity.


  • Macrocyclic Lactone Preventive

While your pet is undergoing heartworm treatment, it must be put on preventive treatment. It helps ensure that your pet is not dangerous to other animals. The drug also prevents microfilariae from hiding from the pet’s immune system.

For more information on understanding the treatment options for heartworm in pets, visit Vistancia Animal Hospital at our office in Peoria, Arizona. Call (623) 888-8108 to book an appointment today.

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