Heartworm Treatment Overview
Where can I go for heartworm treatment?
- Heartworm tests and heartworm preventives are available at all Emancipet clinics.
- Heartworm treatment for pets that have received a positive heartworm test is available at Emancipet’s Central Austin & Houston branches. It is not available in Killeen, Pflugerville, East Austin, or at the Mobile Clinic.
I got a positive heartworm test on my dog. What do I do next?The first step is to come in for a Heartworm Evaluation Exam. Note: This evaluation is currently available only at Emancipet’s Central Austin Branch and in Houston.
Do I really need to treat my dog for heartworms? My dog doesn’t seem sick.We recommend coming in as soon as possible for a Heartworm Evaluation Exam so that the veterinarian can recommend the best possible option for your dog. Emancipet follows the American Heartworm Society’s recommendations for heartworm disease by treating adult heartworm infections with 3 injections of a drug called melarsomine. This treatment kills the adult heartworms quickly and reduces the amount of irreparable damage they inflict on the heart and lungs.
How are the heartworms killed?The first melarsomine injection is given after your pet has had a minimum of two months of heartworm prevention, and has taken Doxycycline for 30 days. The second melarsomine injection is given one month later, and the third injection is given 24 hours after the second injection. This treatment protocol kills some of the worms after the first injection and allows the body to clear them. The second and third injections kill the remaining worms. By spreading out the treatment, there is less stress on your dog’s body and the treatment is less risky for your dog.
Why is the treatment risky for my dog?The drug that is used to kill the heartworms is a very strong drug that is hard on your dog’s body. As the worms die, they can cause inflammation and scarring of the lungs. It is critical to minimize your dog’s activity during the treatment period in order to to minimize this risk.
What should I expect at the Heartworm Evaluation Exam?Please bring a copy of your positive heartworm results so that we know what type of test was used. First, we will perform a confirmation test if one has not already been performed. A veterinarin will then perform an examination of your dog. If you decide to proceed with the heartworm treatment, Doxycycline (an antibiotic) will be sent home with you to administer to your dog for 30 days You will also be sent home with Trazadone, a medication you will use to sedate your dog before each injection. If you do not already have heartworm prevention, your dog will be sent home with Tri-heart (heartworm prevention). Your dog will need to be on heartworm prevention throughout the treatment, as well as every month for the rest of their life.
Why do I need to keep my dog on heartworm prevention for two months prior to treatment?Keeping your dog on heartworm prevention for a minimum of two months before treatment is vital to ensuring that the worms in your dog’s blood and heart are at a stage where they can be killed by the melarsomine injections. By keeping your dog on heartworm prevention, the existing baby worms will mature to the stage where they can be killed and your dog will not become infected with new heartworms.
Why does my dog need to be on antibiotics for 30 days prior to treatment?It is important for your dog to finish the entire cycle of Doxycycline before the first melarsomine injection. This specific antibiotic has been shown to kill an important type of bacteria inside heartworms that is vital to the worms’ health. With the bacteria eliminated, the worms become more susceptible to the melarsomine. More importantly, killing this bacteria results in less life-threatening inflammation of the lungs during the treatment.
What should I expect on my first visit for the melarsomine injection (treatment)?On the morning of each injection, you will administer Trazadone and drop off your dog 8am. You will be able to pick up your pet that afternoon. Once your dog has arrived at our clinic, a veterinarian will perform an examination her. We will run blood work to check for anemia, and your dog’s liver and kidney function. Next, an injection is given and the first melarsomine injection is administered in a lower back muscle. Prednisone (a strong anti-inflammatory medication) is sent home on a 4-week, tapered dose, and a 3 day supply of Tramadol (pain medication) is sent home with your dog.
How much does this treatment cost?The cost of heartworm treatment depends on the size of your dog.
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The first payment is due on the day of your dog’s Heartworm Evaluation Exam. The second payment is due on the day of your dog’s first melarsomine injection. These payments will need to be made in full.
What does the treatment cost include?
The treatment price is a bundle and includes the following:
- Heartworm Evaluation Exam
- Confirmation heartworm test
- Doxycycline tablets
- Pre-procedure bloodwork
- Sedation medications before each injection
- Pain medications after each injection
- Anti-inflammatory medications after each injection
- 3 melarsomine injections
Do you offer a sliding scale cost?No. The cost of heartworm treatment at Emancipet is based on a reduced price point and makes the treatment more accessible and affordable. To assist with any financing concerns, the treatment is split into two payments. You can also apply for CareCredit, a healthcare financing program, at www.carecredit.com/apply. CareCredit is ONLY accepted at Emancipet’s Central Austin Branch Surgery Clinic.
Do you offer tests and/or treatment for cats?No. At this time, there is no treatment available for cats and the tests used are unreliable. Heartworm tests for cats only test if the cat has ever had microfilaira (heartworm larvae) in their blood, not if he currently does. Because of this, it is strongly recommended that you keep your cat on heartworm prevention year-round.