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The Risks Associated With the Treatment of Heartworm Disease for Dogs

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The Risks Associated With the Treatment of Heartworm Disease for Dogs

Even though there are several preventive medicines available in the market, still an unfortunate number of dogs get infected with heartworms. Many people might adopt dogs with heartworms, in which case the treatment becomes a part of the process of rescuing the dog.
However, many other dogs also become victims of Heartworm infection because their owners do not feel like spending money every year on the monthly preventive medicines. What they do not realize is that the treatment of heartworm infection can be quite expensive for them and painful for their dog. That is why it is always advisable to rely on preventive measures like Heartgard heartworm pills for dogs.
There are different stages of heartworm infection. In the subclinical stages, the dog might test positive for an infection, but it might not show any signs of the disease. However, in extreme cases, the dog might be dying from congestive heart failure. There are several risks associated with the treatment of heartworm for dogs, which we are going to discuss in this article.

The Medicine Is a Carefully Regulated Poison

Treatment of heartworms can be quite expensive, where the total cost might reach more than $1000. Heartworms also cause damages to the lungs, heart, and veins of the dog, which cannot be repaired by treatment. Therefore these damages will remain in its body throughout its life and affect its life-span.
Heartworm treatment is also a complex procedure, where the drug is actually a poison that gets injected into the dog’s body in moderate amounts. Although when administered correctly, it will slowly kill the worms and not cause any additional ill-effects to the dog’s body, it still poses a risk. Therefore the administration of the drug should not be taken casually.

The Treatment Takes Time to Flush the Dead Worms Out

Dead intestinal worms can be easily passed out of the body with the dog’s stool. However, heartworms reside in a dog’s heart, lungs, and veins, which makes it difficult to flush them out of the body. Once the drug kills the worms, a dog’s immune system takes time to break them down and eliminate them from the body.
The process of elimination is effective, but it takes time and poses risks for the dog. The fragments of dead worms float through the bloodstream for almost six to eight weeks. That is why doctors advise dog owners to ensure that the dog is kept indoors for the entire duration.
If the dog walks or runs too much, the fragments can clog the veins and create further health complications for it. That is why the owners need to make sure that the dog does not exercise or play for six to eight weeks after the last injection of the treatment has been administered.

The Dog’s Health Matters Before Treatment

Heartworm treatment places a significant amount of strain on the dog’s body. That is why the first thing that a vet will check after the dog is diagnosed with heartworm infection is whether it is healthy enough to tolerate the treatment. The evaluation usually includes the following:
  • Complete physical examination
  • A heartworm test confirming infection
  • A test to check the presence of larvae in the dog’s body and confirm if the heartworms are reproducing
  • Chest X-rays
  • Complete set of blood tests
The veterinary doctor might prescribe further tests depending on the results of the previous check-ups. The tests will allow the doctor to understand the extent of the heartworm infection and whether the dog’s health will be able to tolerate the treatment. Depending on these tests, the dog might need hospitalization for a few days or a few weeks after the treatment.

The Slow Kill Method

If the dog’s health does not permit regular treatment, the doctor might prescribe a slow treatment. This treatment is also chosen by owners when they cannot afford regular treatment. The treatment involves feeding the dog heartworm preventive medication every month.
However, this treatment has the highest risk because it does not kill the worms, but only prevents them from reproducing. That means the worms present inside the dog would continue to harm its bodily organs. That is why the treatment should only be administered if prescribed by the doctor.
Owners must be informed that the average lifespan of heartworms can be up to six years. So even though the slow kill method might prevent the heartworms from multiplying, they can still cause permanent damages to the dog’s lungs, heart, and blood vessels.
Treatment of heartworm infection is quite risky for the dog’s health. That is why it is better to rely on preventive medication than waiting for the dog to get infected. Pet owners should make sure that they discuss the risks in case their dog has to undergo heartworm treatment.

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