Dog Heartworm Treatment Cost
Dogs are one of the most loving animals, and almost every person across the globe loves them because of their sincere and loyal nature. Being pet owners, it is important to keep a check on your pet’s health so that they have a happy and healthy life.
Dogs love to spend most of the time outside, their active nature doesn’t let them stay indoors. While they must remain physically active, there are high risks of catching biting bugs like fleas or ticks. Apart from it, mosquito bites are also very dangerous. These mosquito bites can be deadly for your pooch as it can cause heartworm disease.
There might be several questions running through your mind related to this disease. This article is here to help and answer what is this disease, how it is caused, and what is the dog heartworm treatment cost.
So let’s dig deeper and find out!
What Is Heartworm Disease?
Heartworm is a serious and potentially fatal disease that can occur in both cats and dogs. It is very common among the dogs in the Gulf coasts and Atlantic and from the Gulf of Mexico to New Jersey along with the Mississippi River and its key tributaries.
The medical term for this disease is dirofilariasis, caused by a blood-sucking parasite known as Dirofilaria immitis. These foot-long worms are found in the heart, lungs, and its related blood vessels resulting in severe lung disease, heart failure, and organ damage, and also death. Not only cats and dogs can be a victim of these worms, many other mammals like wolves, coyotes, foxes, sea lions are also on the list.
Talking about dogs, they are a natural host for these parasites. They live inside an adult dog’s body where they mate and reproduce. If it is not treated on time it results in hundreds of worms in the body and hurts their health, especially the heart and lungs.
What Causes This Disease?
Dogs are the natural hosts but mosquitoes are the intermediate ones. It means the worms live inside the mosquito’s body for a short period so that it becomes infective and can transmit heartworm disease.
Adult female heartworms living in the dog’s body produce baby worms known as “microfilaria”. It circulates in the bloodstream and when the mosquito sucks this blood from the infected dog, the mosquitoes become a carrier. In this way, this disease is caused in one dog after another.
Heartworms are not contagious. If a healthy dog is around an infected one, it will not cause any harm. These worms live inside the body for 5 to 7 years and they look like strands of spaghetti, 4 to 6 inches long. We know it sounds gross!
How Would You Know If Your Dog Has Heartworms Or Not?
This disease is common in adult dogs and while in the early stages they may show minimal symptoms or no symptoms at all. The longer heartworms are left untreated; the greater symptoms it will show in further stages. These indications can look like:
● Mild persistent cough
● Reluctant in physical exercise
● Loss of appetite
● Weight Loss
In later stages of the disease, the dog may develop heart issues which are characterized by a swollen belly due to excessive fluid in the abdomen.
The number of worms inside the dog’s body is known as the worm burden. The average worm burden is 15 while it can increase to 250 worms. The greater number of heartworms result in blockage of blood vessels, which restricts the blood flow which can be life-threatening. The cardio-vascular collapse is known as Caval syndrome, characterized by labored breathing, pale gums, and dark-colored urine.
When Should You Get Your Dog Tested For Heartworm?
Heartworm disease is a progressive one. The earlier it is detected the lesser chances are of the dog’s health getting serious. While this disease is common, it can be deadly.
In the US, heartworm prevention is the standard preventive care for animals. The vet will perform a simple test in which blood is drawn for the sample to detect the presence of these worms.
All dogs must be tested once a year for heartworm infection. Puppies under the age of 7 months can be put on heartworm prevention without a test because it takes 6 months for the dog to result positive in the test. After 6 months you can get the puppy tested followed by yearly testing.
For dogs above 7 months who weren’t on preventive measures need to be tested before starting the heartworm prevention and those dogs who have missed their dosage should be tested 6 months after it and then yearly.
How Much The Dog Heartworm Treatment Costs?
After discovering about this disease you might think it will be the dog heartworm treatment cost. Because taking care of pets is not a cheaper option. No matter what reason is behind the heartworm disease, here are some costs you can expect at each step, starting from diagnosis to treatment:
The Positive Heartworm Test:
The prevention treatment starts only if your dog is tested positive for the disease. If you have an adult dog, it is advised that you get them tested yearly. This test ranges from 35$ to 75$.
Heartworm tests are quite common and can be done at any of the vet’s clinics. Its result is also available within minutes at some places. If your dog is on the treatment, it should be tested as well.
The Confirmatory Test:
If the initial test comes out positive, the vet will most likely recommend a confirmation test as there is room for doubt in every blood test.
As heartworm prevention is a costly procedure, your vet will want to make sure that he/she leaves no room for error. This test lies within the 20$-40$ range.
Stage Of the Heartworm Disease:
After your vet has confirmed that your dog is positive, they will recommend additional tests to determine at which stage is the disease. These tests can be chest X-rays which cost from 125$ to 200$, echocardiography that varies from 500$ to 1000$. These tests help to assess the severity of the disease.
By doing so, it will help the vet to determine the specific treatment and post-treatment procedure. This will help in cutting costs and save time.
As soon as the dog is diagnosed positive, the treatment starts. It helps you weaken the existing adult heartworms, kill the immature ones, and decrease the risk connected to melarsomine, which is a medication used to kill the adult heartworms.
Before melarsomine, the affected dog is put on an antibiotic called doxycycline which costs around 30 to 150$. It helps to weaken the adult heartworms. If a dog shows initial symptoms like coughing or labored breathing, the vet will prescribe steroids whose range lies between 10$ to 40$.
The vet will also prescribe a tablet to inhibit the growth of heartworm larvae typically on days 1 and 30. These tablets cost around 6$ to 18$.
This stage revolves around killing the adult worms. In the “adulticide” treatment, the vet gives three injections of melarsomine that are inserted in the lumbar musculature of your dog’s back. The dosage and the cost depend on the weight of the dog but usually, it lies within $500 to 1000$. Shots of steroids are also prescribed several weeks after each injection whose cost is aforementioned.
Follow – Up Testing:
After the third shot of melarsomine, the vet will draw the blood sample to detect the presence of microfilariae. This test costs 20$ to 40$. If the test is positive, dog heartworm prevention treatment is continued for four more weeks.
Alternatives To Melarsomine Treatment
The cost of heartworm prevention is low as compared to the treatment. Your dog can feel uncomfortable during the treatment, may experience side effects, and will have to restrict its activity.
There are many prescribed medications available, that are affordable and highly effective for the prevention of heartworm disease. You cannot buy the medicines without a prescription and it is normally a monthly prescription whose tablets cost around 6$ to 18$ per month.
Another option is an injection. ProHeart 6 shots last for 6 months and cost 50$ to 150$ and ProHeart 12 is given annually and lies within 75$ to 350$ per year.
The Bottom Line:
Heartworm disease can be deadly for your furry friend if it is not treated on time. The Caval syndrome can increase the chance of fatality and the surgical procedure is costly too. When the dog has fully recovered from the disease make sure to put them on preventive treatment to avoid future recurrence.
This disease makes the poor soul highly uncomfortable as the damage caused by this creature is massive. Restricting their activity and giving them painkillers is the only way to ease your furry friend’s pain.
Stay Home! Stay Safe!