Heartworm Treatment Overview
Heartworm disease is very serious, but when treated early can be taken care of. If your dog has tested positive for heartworm, please contact us at (512) 587-7729 for more information and to schedule a consult with a veterinarian.
Below we answer some frequently asked questions about heartworm treatment!
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 adulticide injection. If you are unable to afford the treatment, please let us know.
The treatment price 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
- 30 day post-treatment microfilaria test
- 9 months post-treatment heartworm testing
Frequently Asked Questions
Heartworm tests and heartworm preventives are available at all Emancipet clinics.
Treatment for pets that are positive for heartworm is available at Emancipet’s Central Austin & Houston East End branches. You do not need to be a current client to have your dog evaluated and treated for heartworm at Emancipet.
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 Houston East End Branch.
Yes. Heartworm disease will cause severe damage to your dog’s heart and lungs and if left untreated, will eventually lead to death. 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 treatment of heartworm disease, which will safely kill adult and immature heartworms.
Adult heartworms are killed through a series of injections of an adulticide medication (melarsomine). Prior to the first injection, your dog will be given a minimum of two months worth of heartworm prevention and 1 month worth of an antibiotic to kill immature heartworms. The first adulticide injection is then given to start killing the adult heartworms. The second 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.
There can be severe side effects that occur during treatment for heartworm disease. However, the outcome of not treating far outweighs this risk, as heartworm disease will eventually become fatal to your dog. Our veterinarians will be monitoring your dog for the entire day after each injection is given, and facilitate treatment and further care if needed. You will also be given specific instructions to minimize the risk of side effects at home.
We will perform a confirmation test if one has not already been performed. A veterinarian will examine your dog in order to evaluate the affects of the heartworm infection and discuss a treatment plan with you. If you decide to proceed with the heartworm treatment, an antibiotic will be prescribed to your dog for 30 days in order to kill bacteria that immature heartworms require for survival. If your dog is not currently receiving monthly heartworm prevention, a heartworm preventive will be prescribed at this time in order to further kill immature heartworms. Your dog’s first adulticide injection appointment will be scheduled at the conclusion of this appointment.
Keeping your dog on heartworm prevention for a minimum of two months before treatment is vital to ensure that no new heartworms are introduced into the body. Heartworm prevention kills immature worms, preventing a heartworm infection from establishing.
It is important for your dog to finish the entire cycle of the antibiotic (doxycycline) before the first adulticide injection. The antibiotic has specifically 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 adulticide medication and results in less life-threatening inflammation of the lungs and kidneys during the treatment.
On the morning of each injection, you will drop your dog off at our clinic at 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. We will run blood work to check for anemia, and assess your dog’s liver and kidney function. If these values are determined to be normal, your dog will be given a sedative and the first adulticide injection will be administered in a lower back muscle. Your dog will be monitored for the remainder of the day to be sure that it is responding normally and comfortably after the adulticide is administered. The veterinarian may prescribe an anti-inflammatory medication and pain medication for your dog to receive over the next few days at home.
If the symptoms are mild and you think your dog can wait until regular business hours to be rechecked, return to the clinic where the treatment was performed during normal business hours (10-6pm) so that our veterinarians can recheck your dog.
Mild symptoms include:
• Loss of appetite
• Mild vocalizing
If your dog is experiencing severe side effects, please call our emergency number at 512-773-5704 immediately in order to speak with a staff member regarding next steps.
Severe symptoms include:
• Difficulty breathing
• Severe weakness
If you are unsure if you pet’s symptoms are mild or severe, please call 866-441-9248 during normal business hours (10-6pm) or our after hour emergency line at 512-773-5704
Microfilaria are produced by adult heartworms and are the infective form of heartworms. If a mosquito bites a dog that has microfilaria in its bloodstream, that mosquito becomes infected which can then infect other dogs through a bite.
The presence of microfilaria can cause continued organ damage and may indicate that there are still adult heartworms in the dog’s body. If this test is positive, our veterinarians will discuss a treatment plan with you at that time
The American Heartworm Society recommends an antigen test and a microfilaria test 9 months after the 3rd injection to be sure that all worms and microfilaria were killed with treatment and that no new worms were introduced into the body. Continued infection will result in tissue damage and organ failure, eventually leading to death.
No. At this time, there is no treatment available for cats and test results are difficult to interpret, as a positive heartworm test indicates only that the cat has been exposed to heartworm, not that the cat is actively infected. We strongly recommended that you keep your cat on heartworm prevention year-round.