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NWR: Heartworm in doggos

So I know I could find a pet forum to ask this, but honestly I love the community here so I thought I'd ask...
Has anyone had a dog go through heartworm treatment?  We recently adopted a corgi mix from Mississippi and he's heartworm positive.  Where we live in Maine, it's not very common, so I'm hoping people from the rest of the country might be more familiar with the outcome.  The treatment is a series of shots that kill the worms, and he'll have to be very calm and still for at least a month after each shot, or his accelerated heartrate could cause the dying worms to clot and give him a heart attack.  The only person I've talked to that's had the treatment done before had their dog pass away in the process, so I'm hoping to hear from people who've had success stories.  Crowley has anxiety, especially very bad separation anxiety, so "calm" is not exactly his forte.  

Re: NWR: Heartworm in doggos

  • Poor Crowley!  I'm so sorry to hear that.  I live in Louisiana where heartworm is also prevalent and we dose up our dog every month with a prescription heartworm/flea pill.  But, thankfully, she's never had it.

    This is more my "impression" as opposed to experience or knowledge, so keep that in mind!  It's a very serious disease but, I think when it's caught early and consistently treated...it is a long treatment, as you have found out...there are pretty good chances the dog will fully recover.

    Here are some tips on keeping Crowley more calm.  Is he crate trained?  Many dogs find their crate to be a peaceful, calming place.  Also, try one of those Thunder shirts.  I know they seem really gimmicky, but they work great for our dog.  She will immediately become more subdued and mellow, when we put it on her.

    As you spend more time with Crowley, you will probably come across things that naturally calm him.  Our dog, Izzy, is often full of energy.  I've found if I talk to her in a quiet, calm voice, she will pick up on the "mellow" vibe that I am putting off and start to calm down.  I'll usually give her slow pets along her head and back also.  Dogs are better than any other animal on this earth at picking up on our social cues.  Use that to your advantage!

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  • Poor Crowley!  I'm so sorry to hear that.  I live in Louisiana where heartworm is also prevalent and we dose up our dog every month with a prescription heartworm/flea pill.  But, thankfully, she's never had it.

    This is more my "impression" as opposed to experience or knowledge, so keep that in mind!  It's a very serious disease but, I think when it's caught early and consistently treated...it is a long treatment, as you have found out...there are pretty good chances the dog will fully recover.

    Here are some tips on keeping Crowley more calm.  Is he crate trained?  Many dogs find their crate to be a peaceful, calming place.  Also, try one of those Thunder shirts.  I know they seem really gimmicky, but they work great for our dog.  She will immediately become more subdued and mellow, when we put it on her.

    As you spend more time with Crowley, you will probably come across things that naturally calm him.  Our dog, Izzy, is often full of energy.  I've found if I talk to her in a quiet, calm voice, she will pick up on the "mellow" vibe that I am putting off and start to calm down.  I'll usually give her slow pets along her head and back also.  Dogs are better than any other animal on this earth at picking up on our social cues.  Use that to your advantage!

    Thank you!  Yes, he settles down in his crate; I just hate keeping him in there all the time, but once he starts treatment we won't really have any other options.  I got a Thunder shirt but we haven't used it much since I can't get it on him by myself (he struggles and then tries to steal it), so we'll manhandle him into it once he's on treatment and I'm sure he'll get used to putting it on.  
  • levioosalevioosa Southern California member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I'm so sorry. I don't have any personal experience with it, but from my understanding it is a very serious disease with high rates of complications. That's just my personal opinion though, as I haven't spent much time researching it and that's mainly just what I've gathered from the Labrador rescue I follow on FB. Can you ask the vet for anti-anxiety meds/sedation meds for the next few months to keep him calm? Will that interact with his heart worm treatment? 


    image
    charlotte989875sparklepants41ernursej
  • Unfortunately, that is the WORST part about the Thundershirts.  My H and I were surprised at how difficult they are to put on, the first time we did it.  It gets a little better with practice, but it is still a job best done with two people.

    Maybe give a favorite treat AFTER the Thundershirt is on ;).  In comments after a pet article, I read a funny post by a pet owner whose Lab has diabetes and needs to take insulin every day.  Of course, the Lab gets fed right after he gets his insulin shot.  So he looks forward to it!  She said that, as soon as he sees she is getting the vial and syringe out, he'll go lie down at his normal place in the kitchen...and stick one of his arms out, lol.

    Izzy is normally just fine.  The only time we think about getting out the Thundershirt is if there are going to be hours of thunder storms or 4th of July (fireworks).

    I don't know why I never thought about this until now, lol.  But, for the times you'll be home anyway, try swaddling Crowley in a blanket and holding him against your chest or on your lap.  That's the same idea as a Thundershirt.  Our cat loves that, though we've never tried it with Izzy.  But now I want to!

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  • levioosa said:
    I'm so sorry. I don't have any personal experience with it, but from my understanding it is a very serious disease with high rates of complications. That's just my personal opinion though, as I haven't spent much time researching it and that's mainly just what I've gathered from the Labrador rescue I follow on FB. Can you ask the vet for anti-anxiety meds/sedation meds for the next few months to keep him calm? Will that interact with his heart worm treatment? 
    The vet has said he can be sedated, so that's the plan if we can't get him to calm down...Which we pretty much can't.  I hope he can give us a very light dose so he's not a total druggie during the process, but it's enough to curb his anxiety.  I've been researching how to deal with separation anxiety, and unfortunately the desensitization requires someone to be home at all times for a few weeks as you slowly ease the dog into the idea that's it's ok for you to be gone.  That is not something we can do right now; they say you can send the dog to daycare, but daycare won't take him with the heartworm and once he starts treatment he won't be able to play anyway.  I'm thinking I might be able to borrow my parents for a week this summer (mom works in a school and dad works from home), but we won't be able to cure his anxiety by the time treatment starts.
  • Ro041Ro041 member
    Seventh Anniversary 1000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    @missfrodo - I work with a rescue in Missouri who has been around for 4 years.  In that time, we have treated 143 heartworm positive dogs (to the tune of $71,500 in medical bills for HW treatment alone).  As you can imagine, the topic of keeping a HW dog calm comes up A LOT.  

    Is your dog food motivated?  You can try to buy some puzzle games to keep him mentally stimulated in his crate.  This is usually our go-to for dogs who are wild or active.

    At the end of the day, we tell people to do the best they can, and if the dog is out of control, to get medication to control it.

    For what it's worth, we haven't lost a dog to HW disease during treatment in the rescue.  So, the risk is definitely there, but it's not so high that we have been able to avoid losing any dogs to it.  

    Keep in mind that you don't want to introduce rigorous exercise (dog parks, hikes etc) for 6 months after treatment.  

    short+sassyernursej
  • Ro041 said:
    @missfrodo - I work with a rescue in Missouri who has been around for 4 years.  In that time, we have treated 143 heartworm positive dogs (to the tune of $71,500 in medical bills for HW treatment alone).  As you can imagine, the topic of keeping a HW dog calm comes up A LOT.  

    Is your dog food motivated?  You can try to buy some puzzle games to keep him mentally stimulated in his crate.  This is usually our go-to for dogs who are wild or active.

    At the end of the day, we tell people to do the best they can, and if the dog is out of control, to get medication to control it.

    For what it's worth, we haven't lost a dog to HW disease during treatment in the rescue.  So, the risk is definitely there, but it's not so high that we have been able to avoid losing any dogs to it.  

    Keep in mind that you don't want to introduce rigorous exercise (dog parks, hikes etc) for 6 months after treatment.  
    Thank you so much!  Your success rate gives me hope.  He does love food, so he's definitely going to be getting Kongs and frozen treats.  I didn't know it was 6 months after treatment...That's a bummer.  But at least after it's all over, he'll have a healthier heart.  And we'll spoil him while he's on house arrest.
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