If your dog needs treatment for infection with adult heartworms, this must be carried out by a veterinarian.
Your vet will give you information to take home with you when you collect your dog after heartworm treatment which will advise on the heartworm treatment aftercare for dogs that you should follow.
In this article, I have set out a brief summary of these guidelines which I hope will prove helpful -although my summary is not intended to replace the advice from your own vet.
Why is it important to follow Heartworm treatment aftercare instructions? The Immiticide medication used to kill adult worms is powerful and killing the worms causing pieces of dead worm to be passed into the dog’s bloodstream can cause problems in itself. It is vital therefore to follow the guidelines to avoid putting your dog’s health and recovery – and possibly even its life in danger.
Heartworm Treatment Aftercare Guidelines
1. Your dog should be confined to a cage or crate for the first four weeks. This is to restrict the dog’s physical activity to an absolute minimum. There must be no running, jumping or playing. The dog should be taken outside on a short lead at regular intervals to allow him to relieve himself.
The reason for this is that any increase in physical activity causes the heart to beat faster and the blood to pump harder. This could potentially cause very serious problems for your dog if expelled pieces of dead worm cause a blockage in a major blood vessel as this could prove fatal.
2. Your dog will almost certainly be prescribed both anti-flammatory and anti-biotic medications. These are vitally important and you need to make sure that your dog takes these exactly as prescribed. If you have problems getting him to take pills, try using pill pockets which are widely available and allow you to hide the medication inside of a tasty treat.
3. Your dog may not feel too well at this time and may be off its food. You should encourage him to eat his normal diet but bear in mind that because he is not taking any physical exercise, he is not burning off so many calories and so needs to eat less than normal to avoid putting on weight.
4. Keep a close eye on your dog and look out for the following symptoms and contact your vet straight away if your dog exhibits any of the following. It is better to be safe than sorry.
a. Severe and persistent cough. (Bear in mind that your dog will very likely have a mild cough for some time after treatment but severe coughing should not be ignored).
b. Any blood coughed up
c. Any loss of appetite
d. Any lethargy or listlessness
e. Contact your vet immediately if your dog collapses.
Your dog will need re-testing for the presence of adult worms approximately four months after treatment to make sure that all the worms have been killed by the Immiticide medication. Prior to this, you should resume heartworm prevention medication as directed by your vet. This will almost certainly be one calendar month after the last dose of preventive medication was administered. If your dog was not on a heartworm preventative prior to heartworm treatment, your vet will advise you when your dog should start on this medicine.
Following heartworm treatment aftercare guidelines like those above will increase the chances of a really good outcome for your dog. However you should bear in mind that failure to put your dog on a heartworm prevention program – and keep him on it, will very likely result in re-infection. The prognosis for any dog needing a second course of treatment for infection with adult heartworms is not good.