We visited the vet last Friday and outlined a plan for treating the heart worms in my newly adopted shelter dog. I made the decision to adopt him knowing he was heart worm positive.
The 90-day heart worm treatment plan
- Antibiotic treatment for 30 days. My vet said that heart worms often have bacteria associated with them. The heart worm treatment will kill both the worms and the bacteria, increasing stress on the dog’s body. This 30 days of antibiotics will kill of the bacteria first, reducing the risk of shocking the dog’s system further.
- First treatment scheduled for December 9th. This is when he will get the first shot. My vet says splitting up the treatments like this should reduce the stress on his body as well as increase the probability of killing off all of the worms. My dog will have to stay calm and not exercise for 30 days. During this period, my dog will be on prednisone and an antibiotic.
- Second treatment scheduled for January 7th. This is when he will get one shot on the 7th and then come back on the 8th for the final shot. 30 days later, he will come in for blood tests to make sure the heart worms are completely gone. During this 30 day period, he will have to continue to be calm and not exercise or overexert himself.
Keeping my dog calm during heart worm treatment
Since the treatment for heart worms can be pretty harsh on the body, dogs must be kept calm and their heart rates should not be raised, if possible. This means no exercise, limited outdoor time, and some confinement. At first, I imagined that I would have to keep him in a crate the whole time, only being let out to use the restroom and eat. This is probably unrealistic for this long of a time period. I will do the best that I can to keep him calm and make sure he doesn’t exert himself.
What about sedatives?
I asked my vet about adding sedatives to his diet in order to keep him calm. This is too long of a period to be on a sedative, so I will need to just do my best to keep him calm. If there are times when he is showing extreme signs of stress or I am unable to keep him calm due to a major stressor, we may get a sedative for short term use. I doubt this will be an issue. He is pretty calm in nature anyway.
Keep the dog cool
Heat can raise a dog’s heart rate as he will have to pant more to keep cool. Luckily, we’re doing the treatment in late fall and winter, so this should not be a problem. Those of you treating in summer months should keep the dog in an air conditioned environment and limit time outdoors.
Well, if all goes well, my new dog will feel better in 3 short months. I’m off to go pick up the antibiotic and get him started today.
Wish us luck!
P.S. – in case you’re wondering, I haven’t named him yet. He came from the shelter with a name -but it was too hard to spell, so I’m waiting until something comes to me that seems to fit his personality.