Monthly use of heartworm medications for dogs can prevent this disease for the life of your pet. Effective preventive medications are available as spot on products (Revolution), tasty wafers (Heartgard), or flavored tablets (Sentinel and Interceptor). Some, like Heartgard, focus only on prevention of heartworm disease while other products have added benefits of killing roundworms, hookworms and fleas.
Treatment is available for dogs suffering heartworm disease but is an expensive option that is easily avoided. The treatment is straightforward with the goal of destroying the parasites living in the animal but treating dogs with severe cases of the disease or with other health problems can be challenging.
The number of worms present in the animal indicates the severity of the disease but the activity level of the dog also plays an important role. As the heartworms die they decompose and the fragments can lodge in pulmonary arteries and block blood flow. This blood flow increases during period of physical activity which can increase the chances of clogged arteries that potentially can cause heart failure. Dogs undergoing treatment must be restricted or confined to prevent high levels of activity that could increase blood flow.
The only approved heartworm disease treatment for dogs is Melarsomine. For years the treatment protocol consisted of two injections 24 hours apart. Results of recent studies have led to changes in the way Melarsomine is administered.
The three dose system currently recommended is composed of one injection followed at least one month later by two more injections 24 hours apart. This is the treatment recommended by the American Heartworm Society and a recent development in treatment of the problem.
One shortfall with the previous two dose treatment is that Melarsomine may not kill heartworms that are less than four months old. A dog testing positive for this parasitic disease probably has worms that range from less than one month to seven years old in his body.
When a dog tests positive your veterinarian may advise the use of Heartgard medication for 2-3 months prior to administering Melasaromine. The goal is to prevent development of young heartworms so that the aggressive treatment will be more effective.
Your veterinarian will assess the overall health of your canine before administering treatment for heartworm disease. Melasaromine acts as a poison (arsenic) to kill the parasites in your dog’s body and any additional health problems could endanger your pet. Treatment for dogs is similar to chemotherapy for humans. Clearly you don’t want to expose your dog to aggressive treatment if you can prevent the disease with a monthly medication.
Dogs with other health complications may not be able to tolerate the standard treatment for dogs. An alternative therapy of ivermectin and doxycycline weekly for 36 weeks greatly reduces the number of heartworms in the animal. Administering doxycycline for a four week period every four months keeps heartworm at low levels in the animal.
In extreme cases the diagnosis is not made until the dog suffers a life threatening heart problem. This may be indicated by sudden onset of severe weakness and lethargy. The cause is heartworms obstructing blood flow through a heart valve and interfering with the closing of that valve. The only course of treatment is surgery to remove the majority of worms from the dog’s heart. This is accomplished using a tool inserted in the jugular vein. If the surgery is successful, the standard heartworm treatment will eliminate any remaining heartworms.
There is no reason your pet should need to undergo drastic surgery or suffer the side effects of chemotherapy for heartworm disease. Heartworm medication for dogs is readily available through your veterinarian and can also be purchased at a cost effective online site specializing in canine medicines.
Twelve doses of Heartgard, Sentinel, Revolution or Interceptor each year will fully protect your best friend from heartworm disease the damage it can cause. Ask your vet to test your dog for heartworm and buy preventive heartworm medicine for dogs at a reputable online pet pharmacy.