Heartworm Treatment Release

Heartworms are parasites that are transmitted from infected mosquitoes to dogs (and cats and other animals.) The mosquito bites and draws blood from one heartworm infected dog and then when it bite a dog that is not on regular monthly preventative, that dog is infected with heartworms. Heartworms are not contagious or transmitted from animal to animal. It takes approximately six months for a dog to test positive after they have been bitten.

How Austin Dog Rescue Treats Dogs for Heartworms

When we accept a dog in to our rescue, we very seldom know they are heartworm positive until we have accepted the dog in to our care. A dog having heartworms does not detour us from rescuing any dog and providing top-level care. On average, we treat 2-3 dogs per month for heartworms. The average cost for heartworm treatment is $100 for every 10 pounds the dog weighs (40 lb dog = $400.) We have a select group of veterinarians that follow the American Heartworm Society’s protocol for the treatment of heartworms.

What is the Treatment Like

Prior to treatment, the dogs heart is x-rayed and if needed, additional blood work done. All dogs are started on a regiment of Doxycycline for a MINIMUM of 30 days, with the addition of the medication Prednisone to help with any inflammation that may be present in the heart or lungs.

Treatment consists of two injections, normally given over a period of two days. The dog stays overnight, receives the second injection on day two and can go home that afternoon. The recovery period is normally 6 weeks. The activity level of the dog must be restricted during the full course of treatment. A small percentage of dogs do have complications such as going in to congestive heart failure and some do not survive the treatment. The total recover period is normally 3-4 months.

What is the Risk of Heartworm Treatment?

Because we have been successful in treating our heartworm positive dogs, it is easy to become complacent and regard treatment as having little or no risk. But in fact, heartworm treatment can be risky. and as with any invasive treatment or surgery, it can result in death. Extreme care and diligence in the follow the advice of the treating veterinarian, your personal veterinarian, the activity restriction must be closely adhered to in order to reduce the possible risk or complications involved in treatment. Speak to your vet to discuss the risk involved in heartworm treatment. You can read more about the treatment of heartworm at the American Heartworm Society's website (http://www.heartwormsociety.org/)

After Care and Post Adoption - CAUTION

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. There may be soreness in their back (where the injections are given) for a few days and care should be taken in that area of their body. The treatment can be very rough on some dog and easier on other butmost recover without any incidents. An increase in their appetite is common to with a dog that is on Prednisone. Please DO NOT over feed your dog. You can feed them a senior or weight management food during this time or you may supplement with chopped or grated vegetables such as carrots, green beans, and apples. Do not give them more than their regular meal even though they may act like they are starving. This will subside once they are off of the Prednisone. You or your vet is welcome to call the vet that did the treatment with any questions or concerns. Tell them which dog you adopted (their ADR name) and when the dog was treated. They are always willing to help and answer questions.


We always recommend you seek advice from your personal vet. From our experience, most recoveries happen in 4-6 weeks. If the dog is older or had a heavy load of worms (high positive), it could take longer. Generally speaking, the lighter the case and the younger the dog, the faster the recovery and less chances of complications. The goal is for them to rest comfortably and keep their heart rate as low and steady as possibly for 4-6 weeks.

Weeks One & Two: The dog must be restricted as much as possible. This means the dog is crated most of the time or only allowed to rest quietly uncrated when you are present. The dog is not allow outside except for potty breaks and must be kept on a leash at all times while outdoors to avoid any sudden excitement, barking or running.

Week Three: If the dog seems to be recovering with no indications of complications and weather permitting (if it is not hot; such as early morning or late evening), you can take the dog for short 3-5 minute SLOW walks once or twice a day in addition to potty breaks or allow them to quietly explore in the yard off leash. No excitement, barking or playing with other dogs.

Weeks Four – Six: If the weather is comfortable, the dog can begin having more freedom. Taking more walks (but DON’T overdo it!), loose in the yard but still no playing with other dogs, long walks or excessive barking until the 6 weeks has passed and you have seen your vet and the dog has been released of restricted activity.

Disclaimer: This document is for general information and is NOT intended to prescribe or recommend any course of action, treatment, or medical advice. You must consult a veterinarian for medical advice, information, and recommendations. Adopters are responsible for all medical expenses after adoption with the exclusion of heartworm treatment and/or complications that is DIRECTLY RELATED to the heartworm treatment up to SIX WEEKS from the date of treatment. Adopters must abide by the activity restriction guidelines prescribed by AUSTIN DOG RESCUE and a licensed VETERINARIAN. In order for ADR to pay for an follow up care related to heartworm treatment, the dog must be take to the ADR vet that performed the heartworm treatment. Prior approval for ANY veterinary visits is required. Contact joyce@austindog.org for approval.

By submitting this document you agree to follow the activity restrictions, all advise given by a licensed veterinarian. At the end of six weeks, you agree to have the dog examined by your vet and released for normal activity. By typing in your name and submitting this legally binding contract and you agree to all the terms listed above. Your electronic signature has the same legal effect as your original, hand-written signature.