I'm a Heartworm Survivor!

posted: by: Annie Wagner, Country Hills Pet Hospital Tags: "Clinic Specials" "News" 

Welcome to our Heartworm Survivors! Below are the stories of 5 dogs treated at our clinic for Heartworm disease and are now living life to its fullest- worm free! So you've read our blog (you haven't? What are you waiting for?!) about what Heartworm disease is, and how to prevent it, but how do you treat it? In addition to our 5 lucky dogs, there are also 5 steps in confirming and treating them.

Step 1- Confirm the diagnosis. After receiving a positive result on a Heartworm test, it is necessary to recheck another test at a later date to confirm diagnosis. Treatment is expensive and difficult- so we want to be sure!
Step 2- Restrict exercise. Keeping your dog confined to crate rest not only decreases the rate of which the Heartworms cause damage to the heart and lungs before treatment, but also lowers health risks after treatment as well.
Step 3- Stage the disease. Your veterinarian will take x-rays of your dog's chest to stage his/her disease. There are 4 classes of disease with Stage 4 being the worst. Early stages have the best outcomes for treatment.
Step 4- Administer treatment. Your dog will be hospitalized for the next 2-3 days to receive Immiticide injections. This medication is FDA approved to treat Heartworm disease and is given twice, deep intramuscularly in the lumbar back, at least 24 hours apart. Your pet is monitored for side effects and complications of treatment such as cough, lethargy, decreased appetite, fever, and vomiting. Medications for pain and antibiotic are also given.
Step 5- Recheck & prevent. After 6 months have passed post treatment, it is recommended to recheck the Heartworm test to make sure it is now negative. Heartworm medication given year-round once a month is also key to remaining Heartworm free & heart healthy!

Willy is a 5 year old Terrier mix and a Heartworm survivor! He was adopted by his mom and dad from a shelter transfer in Alabama. In March 2013, Willy was seen by Dr. Thompson for vomiting issues. After running comprehensive blood work along with a Heartworm/Tick Screen, he was diagnosed with Stage I Heartworm Disease.  After 3 days of hospitalization and the immiticide treatment, Willy was sent home. In 2014 he was also diagnosed with Lyme disease and was treated with antibiotics. For future risk prevention, Dr. Thompson recommended Heartgard monthly and annual testing.

Suzi, a 5 year old Springer Spaniel mix, was diagnosed with Stage I Heartworm Disease in October 2013 after a positive Heartworm test during her annual screening. She was hospitalized for 3 days and treated with immiticide injections.  Suzi was recommended by Dr. Thompson to receive Heartgard monthly and keep up with annual Heartworm tests.

Wilbur is a 5 year old American Staffordshire Terrier and a Heartworm survivor! He was brought in to see Dr. Thompson for his annual wellness visit in April 2014 and tested positive for Heartworm and Ehrlichia. After chest x-rays, he was diagnosed with Stage II Heartworm Disease. He was hospitalized for 2 days with antibiotics and immiticide treatment. Dr. Thompson recommended that Wilbur receive Heartgard monthly and annual testing to make sure his heart remains worm free!

Bandit, a 4 year old Hound mix, was adopted by his mom and dad from  a shelter transfer in Mississippi. He was diagnosed with Stage I Heartworm disease during his annual wellness checkup. He was hospitalized for 3 days and immiticide injections. Bandit was sent home with special instructions  by Dr. Thompson to receive Heartgard monthly and keep up with annual Heartworm tests to help remain risk free.

Our most recent survivor is Sadie, a 2 year old Labrador Retriever mix. She came in for a wellness visit and got a positive Heartworm test. After another positive test the next day with additional x-rays, she was diagnosed with Stage 1 Heartworm disease. During hospitalization and treatment, she did develop a slight cough that was also treated. As an added precaution, Dr. Thompson recommended Heartgard monthly and annual testing to keep her Heartworm free. Sadie is pictured with her favorite technician Allie during treatment!

Keep your pet safe by giving regular preventatives! An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!