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Heartworms in Dogs

What is Heartworm?


Heartworm disease is caused by a parasitic worm inhabiting the heart, lungs and other major blood vessels. These organs are then damaged by the worms, and if left untreated, can be fatal to the dog. Heartworms are spread by infected mosquitoes.


Dogs who have been infected may show symptoms such as coughing, faiting, weight loss, and exercise intolerance. When the infection is far along, dogs experience heart failure, blockage of arteries, and caval syndrome.


How do you Prevent it?


There are multiple types of prevention that can be prescribed by your vet, including a monthly oral preventative, a monthly topical preventative, and a long-acting injection given every six months.


It is extremely important to administer such preventatives when recommended by your veterinarian, as they will only affect the worms during a specific part of their life cycle.


How do you Treat it?


If your dog tests positive for heartworms, it is important to get him/her treated right away. The American Heartworm Society put together a treatment for heartworms that includes starting your animal on prevention, then completing a course of doxycycline (an antibiotic), then finishing with injections of melarsomine. Melarsomine is an agent that will kill the adult worms.


Veterinarians often recommend retesting the dog 6 months after treatment, to make sure it killed off all the heartworms. It is also important to keep the dog on the heartworm preventative going forward.


Helping LCHS treat Heartworm Positive Dogs


At the Lee County Humane Society, it is not uncommon for dogs to come in and test positive for heartworms. We try our best to get the dogs treated as soon as possible, but the treatment can be quite pricey, on average around $500+ per dog, and our list of heartworm positive dogs can get quite long.


We can only treat dogs as our budget allows… Please consider donating to our heartworm fund by calling our front desk at 334-821-3222 or mailing in a check. Every donation helps us treat our dogs, getting them one large step closer to being healthy, happy, and into a forever home.