We see many heartworm-positive dogs at our weekend vaccination clinics. Our goal is to offer affordable heartworm treatment for our clients, and provide information about treatment to help you make the best decision for your pet’s health. We also offer $45 heartworm treatment consultations at our full-service clinic in Irving, so you can come in for a quote and information, and start your heartworm treat if interested (no obligation).
Affordable Heartworm Treatment
The best thing you can do for your dog once you know they’ve tested positive is to take them to a veterinarian for affordable heartworm treatment. Dogs with no signs or mild signs of heartworm disease have a very high success rate with treatment.
We offer $45 heartworm treatment consultations to make it easy for you to come in for information and an estimate.
The more advanced the heartworm disease is, the more complications can arise with treatment (and the riskier the treatment becomes).
At Low Cost Pet Vet, our affordable heartworm treatment runs from about $600 – $1200. Treatment consists of a three-dose regimen of melarsomine to kill off the adult heartworms.
The exact cost will depend on your dog’s current condition, size and treatment plan.
Our Affordable Heartworm Treatment Plan
Heartworm treatment takes approximately 7 – 8 months. Treatment involves several phases to kill all stages of the heartworms safely. It is very important to follow these steps to prevent having to undergo heartworm treatment more than once.
Day 0 (Stage 1) – Make Diagnosis, Start Treatment Plan
We will provide you with a detailed estimate and explain the process at the time of your heartworm consult. At this point, we have several goals:
- Treat your dog for heartworms using a multi-stage treatment plan.
- Get your dog on preventative to stop the problem from getting worse
- Immediately limit all your pet’s exercise and activity to limit tissue damage done by worms rapidly moving in your pet’s heart.
Day 1 – Administer Heartworm Preventative
We recommend starting your pet on heartworm prevention, which kills the larval infective stage of the heartworm and the microfilariae (baby heartworms produced by the adult heartworms in the dog). Heartworm preventative can’t kill the adult heartworms, but it can prevent any more heartworms from growing into adults and clogging your dog’s heart.
We will check for the presence of microfilariae (baby heartworms) in your pet’s heart before administering heartworm prevention. Heartworm prevention kills off these microfilariae, which is generally a good thing, but the prevention works quickly and your dog can have a potentially fatal allergic reaction to their bloodstream being flooded with dead microfilariae. We have several goals:
- Kill off the baby stages of heartworms – microfilariae and larvae.
- Prevent an allergic reaction to the dead microfilariae by pretreating with antihistamine and glucocorticosteroid
- Monitor the pet in case of any reaction after administering preventative.
Day 1 - 28: 4 Treatments with Doxycycline
For the first month we will administer doxycycline to weaken the adult heartworms in your pet and sterilize them before treatment. This is a safe way to weaken the heartworms and limit the amount of melarsomine (the drug used to actually kill the heartworms) that we will administer later.
Our goals with the doxycycline are to:
- Weaken the adult heartworms
- Make the adult heartworms less dangerous to the dog (doxycycline makes heartworms less antigenic, so dogs are less likely to have a reaction to the parasites)
- Reduce the risk of adverse reactions to the treatment with melarsomine. Doxycycline kills a bacteria (Wolbachia) that inhabits heartworms.
Day 30 – Lifetime: Administer Heartworm Preventative
Heartworm preventative needs to be administered every month to prevent heartworms. The second dose of heartworm prevention is much safer since we know your dog no longer has tons of microfilariae in their bloodstream, and we’re just preventing your pet from getting more heartworms.
We will keep your dog on heartworm preventative for 6 months, administering one tablet every 30 days (or every month).
Start Melarsomine Treatment
At this point your pet’s adult heartworms have been weakened, and we will administer another dose of heartworm preventative for the month.
We will administer the first dose of melarsomine, which is the only FDA approved drug to kill adult heartworms. The first week after this treatment it’s critical to closely monitor the dog, as this is the stage where the adult worms are actually dying. Complete rest is essential for recovery.
Our goals with this stage are to:
- Kill the adult heartworms
- Monitor the dog for any adverse reactions to the dead worms
Day 60 – Administer Heartworm Preventative, Second Melarsomine Treatment
We will administer another dose of heartworm prevention, along with the second melarsomine injection.
Day 61- Administer Third Melarsomine Treatment
We will administer the last melarsomine injection. dose of heartworm prevention, along with the second melarsomine injection.
Day 331 – Recheck with Heartworm Test
9 months after treatment, we recommend a heartworm test.
Affordable Heartworm Treatment Prices (Guideline)
For the exact price of heartworm treatment, we must see your pet. Please use this chart as a guideline only to estimate the base price. It does not include the exam, doxycycline, heartworm prevention, or other measures we may recommend for your pet’s treatment. These prices are meant to give you an idea of the range you will be paying for treatment.
|Up to 22lbs
|22lbs - 44lbs
|45lbs - 66lbs
|67lbs - 88lbs
|89lbs - 110lbs
|111lbs - 132lbs
*Price includes 3 Melarsomine IM injections, paid upfront. Antibiotics, analgesics and any further testing or treatment needed will be at additional cost.
Recovery After Heartworm Treatment
It is important that you continue to restrict your dogs exercise level for a period after they undergo treatment. Your veterinarian will let you know when your dog can resume normal activity levels.
Caring for Your Dog After Treatment
After the first melarsomine injection, it is critical that your dog remain completely calm. Usually, their activity level should be completely restricted for a period of around 12 weeks. This is very important to prevent potentially fatal blood clotting.
How can you do that?
- Indoors is the new outdoors! Your pup should stay in a kennel or inside.
- Also, when your pup does need to go outdoors, keep them leashed. No chasing squirrels or racing after other distractions!
- Puzzle toys are a great option to keep your pup occupied and entertained with minimal movement.
- Finally, increase the love and 1-on-1 attention as much as possible!
We strongly recommended administering heartworm prevention year-round for the rest of your dog’s life to prevent them from contracting heartworms again.
Heartworm Treatment FAQ
What Does a Heartworm Positive Test Mean?
When your dog tests positive for heartworms, all we know is that they currently have adult heartworms in their heart. The heartworm positive result doesn’t tell us how long your dog has had heartworms. It also doesn’t tell us how advanced your pet’s heartworm disease is. All we know is that your dog has adult heartworms; and that they need to be treated.
What Is Heartworm Disease?
Heartworms cause heartworm disease by clogging the heart and major blood vessels. They damage delicate lung and heart tissue, and eventually the host dies of heart failure. Once done, tissue damage can’t be reversed. Our goal is to treat heartworms as quickly as possible to minimize damage and give your pet a full and heartworm-free life.
How Did My Dog Get Heartworms?
Heartworms are transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. When a mosquito bites an infected dog, it draws blood that contains immature heartworms. These heartworms mature inside the mosquito to become infective larvae. Those larvae then get passed on to other dogs through the infected mosquito.
Every infected dog increases the risk of infection for other dogs in the neighborhood. Especially in Texas, where dogs are at risk year-round due to our high mosquito population.
When a dog is first infested with heartworms there are no visible or detectable signs. We strongly recommend getting your dog tested for heartworms every year. With heartworm disease, quick treatment is crucial to prevent irreversible tissue damage. The longer your dog has heartworms, the more complications with treatment and the greater damage is done to your pet’s heart and lungs.
What Are the Symptoms of Heartworm Disease?
Dogs usually do not show symptoms until the heartworms have already done extensive damage to the heart and lungs. As the heartworms do more damage, your dog will start showing symptoms such as:
- Difficulty breathing
- Exercise intolerance
- Unusual tiredness or lethargy
As the damage gets worse, your dog will eventually start to show more severe and immediate symptoms. These include Congestive Heart Failure or Pulmonary Failure. The final stage is death.