Heartworm disease can cause a lot of harm to your dog and is potentially fatal. The good news, though, is that treatment of heartworm in dogs is generally both possible and likely to be successful. Heartworm treatment is a fairly involved and lengthy process and so it is best to give your dog a monthly preventatitve like Trifexis to avoid them getting heartworm. In most cases, heartworm is treated through a two-pronged operation: In one treatment adult heartworms are killed, and in another, the microfilaria, or baby heartworms, are killed. The order of these treatments varies and may be determined by the health of your dog, as well as the severity of the disease. Veterinarians will also prescribe medications that attack Wolbachia, which are themselves a parasite attached to heartworms. The adult heartworms – which can occupy the heart, lungs, and blood vessels – are killed with an adulticide. MARTHA SMITH-BLACKMORE, DVM Heartworm disease (HWD), caused by the mosquito-borne nematode Dirofilaria immitis, is endemic in most areas of the United States, including urban areas where most of the U. Animal shelters face significant challenges in preventing, diagnosing, and treating many forms of infectious disease due to limited financial and organizational resources. In shelter animals, risk for heartworm infection is thought to be higher than in privately owned pets because stray and surrendered shelter animals are less likely to receive prior veterinary care. Daily decisions must be made about the best allocation of resources for prevention and treatment of disease, spaying/ neutering, and behavioral rehabilitation. HWD is among the most complex infectious diseases to detect, treat, and prevent. For that reason, it presents a special challenge to animal shelters. According to a 2009 compliance study published by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), 64% of dogs do not receive any heartworm preventive medication. Considering how difficult achieving compliance with veterinary recommendations is among the best clients, it is easy to understand how a surrendered animal is unlikely to have received good or consistent preventive veterinary care.
The most important aspect of home care for dogs undergoing treatment for heartworms is exercise restriction. Dogs should be crated when a responsible adult is not able to prevent excess activity. Dogs should only be allowed outside for short leash walks to urinate and defecate. Give your dog the full course of any medications that have been prescribed even if he or she appears to be healthy. As with any type of laboratory test, false positive and false negative results on heartworm tests are possible. In particular, dogs who have been bitten by a heartworm infected mosquito within the last 6 months often appear negative on heartworm tests. Retesting at an appropriate date will usually reveal that the dog does have heartworms. And The American Heartworm Society (heartwormsociety.org). Each article presents a question or questions on a particular area related to heartworm infection, prevention, diagnostics, and/or treatment. The exact role of doxycycline in the management of heartworm disease (HWD) is not well established. However, virtually all experts in the field would agree that doxycycline has a role in therapy and most U. veterinarians incorporate it into their management of HWD (Figure 1). Several important questions regarding doxycycline remain unanswered, including: organisms do not thrive, may deteriorate and die, and have reduced reproductive potential, which helps manage HWD in infected dogs and reduces potential for infection in other dogs. Potential and realized benefits derived from anti- organism is suppressed (killed) by doxycycline and the resulting, negative effects on the heartworm reproductive system renders the parasite infertile or less fertile (temporarily? eradication with antibiotics would result in the nematode’s demise. Unfortunately, prolonged doxycycline therapy does not kill heartworms because they are not sufficiently bound to their bacterial symbionts., which indicates that doxycycline enhances therapy for the soft- or slow-kill method. In the transplanted worm model mentioned in Study 1, it was shown that a combination of weekly ivermectin (6 mcg/kg) and daily doxycycline (10 mg/kg Q 24 H) eliminated microfilariae over 8 to 12 weeks. This elimination is relatively fast, but not so rapid that therapy results in the adverse, shock-like reactions seen with rapid destruction of large numbers of microfilariae.
Treatment, while21, 21, 43, and 71% of dogs were negative for circulating antigens after 10, 14, 19, and 24 monthly doses, respectively. Recently, Bazzocchi et al. 2008 reported the signiﬁ-cant adulticide effect of a combination of doxycycline and ivermectin in experimentally infected dogs. In that study, Jun 9, 2017. For dogs with heartworm disease, the American Heartworm Society recommends adulticide treatment with melarsomine along with doxycycline.