Canine Heartworm Treatment Protocol

The first step toward treating heartworm disease in your pet is the confirmation of a heartworm positive diagnosis by one of our veterinarians. We will prescribe two medications for your pet prior to evaluating and treating the heartworm disease. One medication, Heartgard®, is a monthly oral heartworm preventative which will preclude your pet from acquiring further heartworm infections.

The second medication is an antibiotic, doxycycline, and it will increase the effectiveness of heartworm treatment by reducing resistance to adulticide, or adult heartworms. Patients return home for one month before beginning the next phase of treatment.

Patient Evaluation

After being on Heartgard and doxycycline for one month, the patient returns for additional treatment. We assess the severity of the disease and your pet’s overall health by performing tests consisting of a thorough physical exam, blood work (Complete Blood Count, mini profile and electrolytes), urinalysis and chest x-rays. The information gathered enables us to classify your pet’sstage of heartworm disease. All patients deemed fit for treatment proceed immediately to adulticide therapy. The veterinary staff may recommend additional care and/or medication for pets that are not well enough for adulticide therapy.

Adulticide Therapy #1

At this time, our veterinary staff will give your pet an Immiticide® injection to initiate the process of killing adult heartworms. The patient receives the injection in the lumbar musculature, slightly in front of the hips. Patients receive a single adulticide injection, and after two days in the hospital,
the veterinarian will allow your pet to go home the following afternoon, providing there are no complications. Patients also begin taking prednisolone, a steriod anti-inflammatory drug, and the dose will taper down while the pet rests at home for a month. It is possible additional medications may be necessary to reduce the pain and inflammation associated with the heartworm injections, or treat side effects ofthe disease.Your pet must follow a restricted activity regimen at home. Running, jumping and excitement are forbidden, and cage confinement may be necessary.

Adulticide Therapy #2

All patients return to the hospital one month after receiving the first Immiticide injection. While hospitalized for the second stage of adulticide therapy, the pet receives two Immiticide injections 24 hours apart. We also administer prednisolone and follow a tapering dose protocol similar to the previous treatment. During all hospitalization, our staff carefully monitors your pet’s appetite, temperature and general demeanor, and looks for adverse reactions. Normally, a veterinarian releases the pet from the hospital after three days.

Your pet’s activity level must be SEVERELY RESTRICTED for THREE weeks after hospital release. Running, jumping and excitement are forbidden, and cage confinement is often necessary. Some swelling and/or tenderness at the injection sites are normal. Please notify our medical staff if any
of the following symptoms occur during the next three weeks: vomiting, lethargy, poor appetite, coughing, respiratory difficulty or elevated temperature more than 103.5 degrees.

Follow up exam

There is a post treatment exam after three weeks to decide if the pet is ready for normal activity.

Test to insure that all immature and adult heartworms are eliminated

Six months after undergoing the final heartworm treatment, your pet needs to return for tests to check for the presence of immature and adult heartworms. A negative result on both tests confirms the elimination of heartworms from your pet. If either of the two tests is positive, it couldindicate that your pet still has heartworm disease and may require further treatments.

Please remember that regular administration of heartworm prevention as prescribed must be maintained throughout your pet’s life to avoid re-infection.

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