A lot of pet owners have concerns about the cost of heartworm treatment for dogs. Treating a dog that has been infected with heartworm parasites is expensive. And recovery can take up to six months. If not detected in time, the damage to your dog’s organs can be severe, even after the worms are dead. In this article, you’ll learn the myths and facts about heartworms and why it’s cheaper to use preventative measures for heartworms instead of paying the high price for your pets’ heartworm treatments.
What is the Cost of Heartworm Treatment for Dogs?
When your dog gets infected with heartworm parasites, it can cost $500 for just the medication alone. If you opt for a pre-treatment workup, the cost gets closer to $1,000. This cost will cover x-rays, blood panels, and you will know how advanced the disease has gotten.
What is important to remember about heartworm treatment is that it will kill any heartworms that are present in the animal, but it will not prevent them from being infected again. You could end up spending thousands of dollars treating your pet for the same condition.
What Kind of Heartworm Treatments Are There?
At this time, there is only one medication that has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of heartworms. Melarsomine is administered as three separate injections and can take between one and three months to kill all the worms in your pet’s system. The vet might also prescribe doxycycline and prednisone to reduce post-treatment complications like infection.
For two months prior to starting injections of melarsomine, your pet should be taking medication for heartworm prevention. This medication will kill off any new worms, but it won’t kill adult worms. It’s an important step because as long as the adult worms are attached to your dog’s heart and lungs, they will continue to grow, reproduce, and cause damage.
Recovery from Heartworm Treatment Can be Extensive
One of the downsides of treating your dog for heartworms is that recovery can be difficult. You should have already started restricting your dog’s physical activity as soon as he was diagnosed. While your pup is undergoing treatment, and for up to six months afterward, he needs to continue to be limited to as little activity as possible.
You may need to confine them to a kennel or crate if you cannot keep them still and inactive. Increased physical activity speeds up how fast live worms will damage the internal organs. And once the worms have died, they continue to be a threat as they disintegrate into pieces. These pieces end up in the lungs, where they can cause blood clots.
What is Heartworm Prevention?
There are multiple products your veterinarian can prescribe to protect your pooch from parasites like heartworms and other common worm types such as:
These products will include the ingredient ivermectin, which is fatal to parasites, as well as fleas, ticks, and mites. The cost for a yearly supply will cost you between $35 and $80. Your dog’s weight will affect the final price. As will your decision between a monthly chewable tablet, a topical ointment given once a month, or injections administered twice a year.
Heartworm Prevention is Vital for a Healthy Dog
Protecting your dog from heartworms is an important part of caring for their well-being. These worms can grow up to a foot long and have a life span of 5 to 7 years. They latch onto the heart, lungs, and blood vessels and start to multiply. One dog can be the host to up to 250 worms. As you can imagine, once a canine becomes this infected, the chances of survival are minimal.
Your dog is at risk of being infected with heartworms any time she is bitten by a mosquito. There’s no way to tell if a bug is carrying heartworm larvae so if your dog isn’t being protected, you might not know they have gotten heartworms until almost a year later. By then, the worms will have reached adulthood and begin reproducing.
Myths About Heartworms
When you have questions, it’s hard to know what answers are true and which are just myths and old wives’ tales. That’s why you use guides like these to help you provide your pet with the right care. Here are a few common myths – and the truth – about heartworms.
Your Dog Only Needs Medicine When It’s Warm
A lot of people believe their dog only needs heartworm medicine when it’s warm because that’s when mosquitos are out. But the American Heartworm Society recommends that you provide your pet with heartworm medication year-round, especially since most brands protect from things other than heartworms too.
Once My Dog Has Had Heartworms, They Can’t Get It Again
The medication that is used to treat heartworms is not a preventative medication. It kills off the adult worms but it does not do anything to ward off any future infections. And there’s no way for the immune system to build up an intolerance. Each time your dog is bitten by a mosquito, it can be infected with heartworms.
Keep Your Pet Safe and Healthy
Heartworms can be fatal to your dog if left untreated so it’s best to catch them as early as possible. Schedule a yearly visit with your vet to have your canine tested every 12 months. You should also get your pet started on a heartworm preventative medication so they are protected from future infections.
Kassidy Shepperd is the editor in chief for Canine-Prime.com. She is is a dog lover/trainer, a freelance writer and a volunteer at many pet rescue and shelter centers. Kassidy is based in Colorado and regularly writes for dog related magazines and blogs.