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Old 02-26-2010, 06:20 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Help, Possible Heartworm

Okay, so here's the deal...


I just adopted Koda, a GSD from a lady who found him as a stray. I took a fecal sample in to the Vet a few days ago, it came back negative for worms. I took him in to get his shots today at Vetco (Petco's vet clinic) and they recommended doing a heartworm test, so I did. He came back with two faint positive tests. I'm really scared. I made an appointment with my regular Vet on Monday to get him tested again and make sure he really has Heartworm, and if he does, start treatment.

I started doing some research and I'm finding horror stories about dogs dying from the treatment. Apparently it puts a tremendous amount of strain on them, and the treatment contains Arsenic to kill the worms. I'm scared of losing him. I've only had him for a week and a half and I'm already so attached to him, this is really worrying me. Not to mention the cost of treatment, I was reading that it's going to cost upwards of $500, if not way more. Does anyone know if it may be cheaper if I'm able to find a Vet School in town? I'm really stressing about the whole thing, not so much about the money, just the fact that my dog could die from treatment. I don't even know how he could have contracted heartworm in Arizona, we don't have mosquitoes here! The Vet at the clinic said that since we don't really have a history on Koda that maybe he was brought here from another state, who knows, he may have had heartworm for a while, he could be infested.

I don't know, I might be stressing over nothing, I'll find out Monday...
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Old 02-26-2010, 06:26 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Anyone with Heartworm Experience.. Please??? can start you off...cost varies by region. You want someone who has done a number of treatments - I think anyway.

Hope all goes well and that it was a mistake (never know, doesn't hurt to hope)!
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Old 02-26-2010, 07:59 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Hmm, that just brought me to the main page for the forums, not to a specific thread..Try again?
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Old 02-26-2010, 08:10 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I recently (last summer) treated a GSD I took in from a high kill shelter that was going to put him down. I took him on as a personal foster and paid for his treatment out of pocket. It is not inexpensive to treat for HW's. I spent well over a grand on this sweet boy (worth every penny), however he had a few other issues as well so the HW treatment itself was probably approx $750 from initial consultation to the final negative HW test. My vet, however, is not the cheapest around. But he's one of the best and I trust him dearly. I briefly considered using one of the cheaper places, but wasn't willing to risk it.

Many dogs do fine during HW treatment if treated at a good vet. The key is to keep the dog VERY quiet for the first 6 - 8 weeks, give or take depending on how severe the HW's are. This means a lot of crate rest, leash walking, confined spaces only. No running around the house, playing with other dogs, etc.

HW's are typically treated in several stages, so the payment will be spaced out a little over the course of several months.

Also, just to be clear - HW's do not show up in a fecal exam, and the fact that he had two positive test results indicates he most likely has HW's. Do not panic, this is not a death sentence. But it does need immediate treatment.

Last edited by Rerun; 02-26-2010 at 08:12 PM.
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Old 02-26-2010, 08:55 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Check this forum, but look for that link.. I posted it today I believe, so it's new.
I have a heartworm positive Pit Bull, and I worry because she's old, but we are going through with the treatment. Things have changed since the original heartworm treatment from what I have heard. I am scared also, so we are just going to do everything we can to keep her calm... I am curious how I know when she can run around and play again??

As far as the price... I know that there is a vet around here that is around 650.. plus xrays and such... Then Banfield is 1500.... and I know the SPCA can do it all for under 500 for everything including the antibiotics, as long as you meet a certain income criteria. That is where we are taking Gizmo, because it was so unexpected, I just couldn't foot the bill after buying the new pup.
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Old 02-26-2010, 11:38 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Rerun - I mentioned the fecal exam to give some history, I just wanted to let everyone know that he came back negative for any other worms through his stool sample. Vetco did a blood test on him today for the heartworm, that's what came back with the weak positive. As I said, he's going to my regular Vet Monday. I understand the treatment is going to be costly, but he's so worth it. My Dad has agreed to help me with the cost, we have a card we can use (Care Credit) and pay it off over the course of 12 months. Does the fact that it came back as a "weak" positive mean that his condition isn't that advanced? If he has it at all? I know that my regular vet will tell me more Monday and will be able to confirm if he is even infected, I'm just so worried. He doesn't have a cough, he runs around, the only thing that even indicates that there could be something wrong is that he pants more than I'm used to a dog panting. I just though it had something to do with his size, I honestly didn't know there was something wrong with the amount he panted. I'm used to my Sheltie mix who is a lot smaller than he is, I haven't had a big dog around since I was a little kid, I thought maybe, as I said, it had something to do with his size. If he has heartworms, it would explain the panting though, the strain on his heart and lungs, etc...


VABeachFamily - I found the thread, thank you. Looks like we're in the same boat, though I'm really not 100% certain yet that Koda has heartworms, I'll know Monday. I'll share my information here, please share what you find out as well...
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Old 02-27-2010, 11:52 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I am taking Gizmo in on the 8th for her treatment, but they will be running another test and another Xray first just to double check, and if its still positive, then her treatment will be the two shots, come home 24 hours after 2nd shot, and then go back in 30 days I believe?
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Old 02-27-2010, 12:20 PM   #8 (permalink)
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There are 2-3 different methods, I believe. Slow kill, then the two ways for the quick kill method.

For quick kill you can:

Do 2 shots, 24 hours apart then a month later oral Ivermectin - I believe. Hopefully another rescue person will see this and confirm.

Or the recommended is for 3 shots. One shot, then four weeks later, 2 shots 24 hours apart. Then the Ivermectin.

These (Immiticide) shots kill the adult worms - large worms living in your dogs - 6 inches or more in length. So you can imagine when these worms in the dog die, that they might clump and form a clot, which is made worse by movement. Which is why leash potties only, no exercise, and bed rest or leash tethering are so important for 4weeks after each shot (or shots) and another month at least after the Ivermectin. See the Houstin Shelties rescue link in the other thread.

Check with your vet on all but better safe and conservative in my mind, than sorry.

The Ivermectin kills off any baby worms at the end.

Staging can involve urinalysis, bloodwork, and 2 xrays and the HW test. In my mind light positive is less important than what they see in the xray but I am not sure on that. You can go to the rescue section, follow up, and see my foster's xrays posted in stunning bi/black in Lawrenceville GA thread.

Hope this helps. Will look for a link I like and post it here. Please read that Houston Sheltie rescue thread. Aftercare is huge. My vet has scared the out of me with stories when I had one other foster undergoing HW tx and again, better safe than sorry!

http://www.marvistavet.com/html/body...treatment.html

http://www.marvistavet.com/html/heartworm.html
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Old 02-27-2010, 08:06 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Hi

Unfortunately I have a lot of experience with heartworm disease as I have adopted 6 heartworm positive dogs. All had severe worm loads - 1, Snow Princess, died within 12 hours of my rescuing her (caval syndrome), 2 were successfully treated and the other three had disease too advanced to be treated so were just put on a slow kill regime (Heartgard).

The protocol for treating heartworm disease is changing. I have had my dogs evaluated at NC State vet school, and here is what we did last year ...

Diagnostics: CBC, Chemistry profile, urinalysis, heartworm test, chest radiographs and echocardiogram (this for me is very important as it was the echo that showed the heart damage in the dogs that were not able to be treated where labwork and radiographs looked ok).

Pre-treat: Doxycycline (to kill off Wolbachia, a bacterium associated with heartworms, which results in reduction pulmonary effects of dying heartworms) and Heartgard for at least a month prior to adulticide treatment.

Treatment: Immiticide, 1 injection, followed by 2 further injections a month later. Note: My last dog developed a cough after the first injection, so the subsequent injections were postponed two months.

There is one thing you may want to consider before treating for heartworm disease. One of my GSD's tested positive on her first heartworm test at 18 month of age. She had been on prevention all her life which made us stop and think - either she was resistant to the heartworm medication or, she was a FALSE POSITIVE, which can occur on the snap tests. Apparently some dogs have a protein in their blood that interferes with the snap test.

We sent out a antigen/antibody test to the Animal Diagnostics lab in St Louis and it came back NEGATIVE, proving a false positive snap test.
This test is apparently the gold standard so the cardiologists told me to never use snap tests again, instead to send out a serology each year (great - it's not a cheap test!)

Wishing you the best with Koda
Joanne
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Old 02-27-2010, 08:50 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Melina View Post
Rerun - I mentioned the fecal exam to give some history, I just wanted to let everyone know that he came back negative for any other worms through his stool sample. Vetco did a blood test on him today for the heartworm, that's what came back with the weak positive. As I said, he's going to my regular Vet Monday. I understand the treatment is going to be costly, but he's so worth it. My Dad has agreed to help me with the cost, we have a card we can use (Care Credit) and pay it off over the course of 12 months. Does the fact that it came back as a "weak" positive mean that his condition isn't that advanced? If he has it at all? I know that my regular vet will tell me more Monday and will be able to confirm if he is even infected, I'm just so worried. He doesn't have a cough, he runs around, the only thing that even indicates that there could be something wrong is that he pants more than I'm used to a dog panting. I just though it had something to do with his size, I honestly didn't know there was something wrong with the amount he panted. I'm used to my Sheltie mix who is a lot smaller than he is, I haven't had a big dog around since I was a little kid, I thought maybe, as I said, it had something to do with his size. If he has heartworms, it would explain the panting though, the strain on his heart and lungs, etc...


VABeachFamily - I found the thread, thank you. Looks like we're in the same boat, though I'm really not 100% certain yet that Koda has heartworms, I'll know Monday. I'll share my information here, please share what you find out as well...
Gotcha on the fecal. I understand now! Just wanted to ensure that you realized that, as many people think a clear fecal means their dog doesn't have heartworms. Regarding symptoms - I've had a lot of fosters I was fostering while being treated for heartworms, and as said I had one I pulled and vetted on my own dime. None of them displayed any of the symptoms because it was caught while in the early stages. None of the dogs ended up having any kind of organ damage or long term health problems relating to the heartworms, since it was caught early and treated. I have never seen a dog have two positive tests and not have heartworms, but I'm sure somewhere out there it has happened. I would definitely have your regular vet run the test again (I'm sure they would anyway even if not requested). It sounds like he, unfortunately, does have heartworms. Many dogs can appear completely healthy for years before displaying symptoms. But it will catch up to them eventually, and often with long term damage as a result.

I'm glad you are taking this seriously and having your vet do a workup immediately, so you can begin treatment if the test is indeed positive. I am sure he will come through just fine.
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