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Elvis was diagnosed with heartworms yesterday and the vet ran more tests this afternoon to confirm the positive result. I have NEVER been late giving him his heartworm pills, so I don't really understand how this happened. Maybe he already had them when we got him as a puppy? We are going to treat him, of course, but I was just wondering if anyone else has been through this. I am worried about how the treatment will affect him. Also, I have read that it is good to give the dog a 30-day round of doxycycline during treatment to prevent infection from the dead worms, but the vet disagreed with that. I am also thinking of asking for sedatives to keep him inactive after the treatment because there is an increased risk of embolism with too much activity for several following weeks. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks!

Steph
 

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American Heartworm Society

2005 Guidelines for the Diagnosis, Prevention and Management of Heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) Infection in Dogs
ADDITIONAL CONSIDERATIONS FOR ADULTICIDE THERAPY
Wolbachia

Most filarial nematodes, including D. immitis, harbor obligate, intracellular, gram-negative bacteria belonging to the genus Wolbachia (Rickettsiales). In infections with other filarial parasites, treatment with tetracyclines during the first month of infection was lethal to some Wolbachia-harboring filariae, but not to a filariae that did not harbor Wolbachia, and treatment of Wolbachia-harboring filariae suppressed microfilaremia. Similar prophylaxis studies with D. immitis have not been reported, but in one study, tetracycline treatment of heartworm-infected dogs resulted in infertility in the female worms. These bacteria also have been implicated in the pathogenesis of filarial diseases, possibly through their endotoxins. Recent studies have shown that a major surface protein of Wolbachia (WSP) induces a specific IgG response in hosts infected by D. immitis. It is hypothesized that Wolbachia contribute to pulmonary and renal inflammation through its surface protein WSP, independently from its endotoxin component. Studies to determine the effects of suppressing Wolbachia populations with doxycyline prior to adulticide therapy will be required to determine the clinical utility of this therapeutic approach. [/b]
 

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I've been dealing with this all summer with my 7 year old male basset,Artie. Our vet decided that the best
course of action would be to administer one shot, then wait six weeks, under strict activity restrictions before
doing the usual treatment of two shots over two days followed by six more weeks of restriction. Thank God he did. One week after the first shot, my female 8 year old went to the bridge and that night there was a severe thunderstorm. Artie is petrified of thunder. This combined stress was all it took for him to suffer a collapse from an inflamed pulmonary artery. He was placed on prednisone for about four weeks before the second round of heartworm shots. That second round was three weeks ago and he has been fine this time. In fact, they did a series of chest x-rays before the second round and said his lungs looked even better than thay had before treatment began.

Our vet never mentioned doxycycline or infection form the dead heartworms. The dead/dying heartworms can break off and cause problems such as Artie had which is why the strict activity restrictions are needed. Its not easy to do , but it can be done. Artie is a very anxious and high energy guy and had been used to two mile walks to burn it off. He's only now starting to be restless and grumpy from the lack of activity, but plenty of belly rubs and brushing seem to be placating him for now. As far as keeping him calm, our vet okayed calms forte for situations which cause added stress such as thunderstorms, fireworks, etc. We had some work done in the house and I gave it to him then as well, and it helped as he's not thrilled about men he doesn't know and it worked wonders. The first two or three days after the treatment, he did alot of whining and really had trouble finding a spot to be comfortable in. He took rimadyl for five days each time and absolutely would not allow anyone to touch the area where they shaved him for the injections. Other than that one collapse, this seemed to be his only real problem.

I hope this information is of some help to you. It can be very frightening, but if your Elvis can handle the activity restrictions I'll bet he'll do fine. Hope it all goes well for you both!

Bridget
 

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Poor Elvis...heartworms are no fun. My golden got heartworms about a year and a half ago at the age of four due to ineffective medicine. I had Charlie on the heartworm prevention shots at the time and they turned out to be ineffective, the company paid for the treatments but it was a very scary and touch and go situation. Charlie had the first shot and then the second a month later. I noticed much of the same things as Bridget. Charlie seemed very uncomfortable for about three days after each shot...he would not eat and whinned all the time. It broke my heart to see him go through it and the vet said that he pulled through it well so I would hate to see a doggie that didn't do well.

Charlie was on kid's benadryl for about two and a half months to calm him down some (goldens can be very hyperactive). The benadryl really seemed to help Charlie, you might want to ask your vet about it for Elvis. The other thing I want to mention is to watch the injection areas carefully...Charlie developed a hot spot from one of his sites six months after the treatment...appearently the area can remain tender for a long time.

Best of luck to you and Elvis. I know this is a rough time but I'm sure Elvis will pull through :)
 

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Thanks for all the help. We will start treatment in a few weeks and I will keep ya'll posted on his progress. Until then I have been spoiling him even more than usual with extra attention and treats. I can't help it. I feel so sorry for what he's about to go through. Hopefully he will do okay since he's a healthy one year old boy!

Steph
 
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