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Your New Pet has a Condition: What’s Next?

Once your dog has been diagnosed with heartworm disease it is crucial that limited exercise guidelines are followed. What exactly does this mean? That means your dog’s activity level will need to be monitored at all times. It often means that your dog may need to be restricted to a very small area at all times throughout the entire treatment period (the use of a crate may be necessary), which lasts approximately 2 months. To ensure exercise restriction, your dog must be kept on a leash when going outside. The medical team will tell you when it is okay to gradually allow your dog to exercise again.

Throughout the recovery period, please watch your pet for coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, excessive lethargy, or respiratory distress. Although we take precautions to ensure the safety of your dog during his/her heartworm treatment, the presence of these symptoms may mean that veterinary care is needed. Please call the Operation Kindness medical staff with questions or concerns about heartworm treatment recovery. Unfortunately, we are not a 24/7 Emergency Facility, and on some rare occasions these symptoms could mean immediate veterinary care (veterinary clinic or emergency clinic) is necessary.

The most important thing you can do to minimize complications during treatment is to restrict your pet’s exercise before, during and after the injections. When adult worms die, they collapse and are pushed deeper into the smaller branches of the vessels that supply blood to the lungs. Because exercise increases blood flow to the lungs, it increases the likelihood that dead worms will block blood flow. This can result in severe complications and possibly death. The importance of restricting your dog’s activity cannot be overemphasized.

Six months after the second heartworm treatment has been completed, you will be instructed to have your dog retested for heartworms at your veterinarian. Keep your dog on heartworm preventative throughout the duration of the treatment and for the remainder of your dog’s life. Dogs with heartworm disease can live high-quality lives as long as they are given appropriate care. After completing treatment and following your veterinarian’s recommendations on heartworm disease testing and prevention, the chances of any long-term effects are very low.