So we began what I call Callie's heartworm journey. Now, Melarsomine is the only drug approved for use against adult heartworms and is the only treatment recommended by the American Heartworm Society currently. However, there are other options being researched, such as the Moxidectin-Doxycycline (“Moxi-Doxy”) protocol.
Melarsomine. Melarsomine is the only FDA-approved adulticide therapy for heartworm disease. The AHS-recommended protocol, which is considered safer and more effective than alternative protocols, consists of an initial injection followed one month later by two injections spaced 24 hours apart.
The more advanced the heartworm disease is, the more complications can arise with treatment (and the riskier the treatment becomes). Treatment generally runs from $600 – $1800 (with no complications), and consists of a three-dose regimen of melarsomine to kill off the adult heartworms.
Often considered the gold standard of heartworm preventatives, HeartGard Plus uses the proven combination of Pyrantel and Ivermectin to completely destroy any heartworm larvae before they can mature into adults, as well as two different species of roundworms and three different species of hookworms.
The heartworm treatment injections themselves can be very painful for some dogs, so most veterinarians will prescribe an anti-inflammatory drug that is acceptable to give to your dog. When in doubt – ask your vet and SKIP giving your dog any at home “people” medication!
The recommended treatment method is fast kill: a series of drug injections (melarsomine) over 2 months time that could also kill the dog if the worm burden is heavy enough and costs a significant amount of money (~$1000CA).
If your pet is found to have heartworms and has been on regular, documented preventative – Heartgard, Interceptor, and Trifexis will cover the cost of heartworm treatment.
Average Cost of Treatment. The average cost of heartworm treatment for dogs is often around $1,000. However, it can range from $500 to $1,100 or even more depending mainly on the size of your dog, veterinary bills, and the stage of the disease.
Twenty-six dogs (52%) experienced minor complications, such as injection site reactions, gastrointestinal signs (vomiting, diarrhea, inappetance), and behavioral changes (lethargy, depression) during or after heartworm treatment.
What is the treatment? There is some risk involved in treating dogs with heartworms, although fatalities are rare. "A new drug is available that does not have as many side effects, allowing successful treatment of more than 95% of dogs with heartworms.
Treatment for heartworm can cause serious complications for your pet's health and can be potentially toxic to the dog's body. Many dogs experience soreness and swelling at the site of their injections. The most severe side effects are related to a large number of worms suddenly dying.
The treatment for heartworm disease takes at least 60 days to complete and consists of a series of drug injections that kills the worms.
Some adverse effects of melarsomine include skin and muscle irritation at the injection site, pain, swelling and reluctance to move. Coughing, lethargy, lack of appetite, fever and vomiting have also been reported. Many of these symptoms are likely related to the killing of adult heartworms.
The arsenic-based formula is what makes melarsomine so painful. And there's a hefty amount in each dose, making it a little extra achy. “The treatment for heartworm disease is a chemotherapeutic agent that irritates the tissues where it is injected,” Dr. Marteney said.
Many factors affect the cost associated with treating heartworm infection, including diagnostic testing, hospitalization, medication, and office visits. The current drug of choice is Immiticide, and due to manufacturing issues, is difficult to obtain and as a result is expensive.
What is the Risk of Heartworm Treatment? Prednisone may cause behavior side effects. If you believe your dog is experiencing odd or aggressive behavior, consult with a veterinarian immediate. The antibiotic and prednisone cut down on complications associated with the treatment.