Hard decision about heart worms

I've recently acquired a nice dog named Jax. He's a boxer, and he has heart worms. 

He's just a year old, and we're assuming the heart worms began this past summer, as he was outside all summer long without flea, tick, or heart worm prevention. 

I've been to a couple of vets and talked with the Humane Society of Faulkner County about treatment methods. 

I've consulted the Internet forums, but my mind still hasn't been made up quite yet. 

When you find your dog has heart worms, you have two treatment options - slow- or fast-kill protocol.

Slow-kill involves a combination of preventative medicines, which don't kill the worms but make them somewhat unhappy with their digs, and a dose of antibiotics that slowly kill the adult worms over time. 

This method keeps babies from being born and eventually kills adults in an environment where no more worms are possible, but any adult heart worms in my dog's heart can go about their business of destroying tissue. 

The dog's activity level has to be reduced 50 percent for many months or perhaps a year. This is because the worms die, break apart and could clog arteries, which could cause sudden death if his blood gets pumping too quickly.

Fast-kill involves heavy injections of Immiticide, an expensive, but FDA and American Heartworm Society approved and backed method that is rough on your dog, but apparently 99 percent effective. 

The dog's activity level has to be completely cut out for six to eight weeks. He'd have to be crated and only walked on a leash to go to the bathroom. No playing in the house, even. He's an active dog, and surely this would just about kill him.

I'm usually pretty good at making these kinds of decisions, but this one has too many positives and negatives on both sides. I love this guy, and I want to do what's best for him.  

I am hoping someone out there has experience and can give us some advice. Anyone? 

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David 01/13/14 - 01:03 pm
Treat your dog

Had a male retriever mix who had heart worms about 1984 when he was about 2Y/O. He was treated at the then newly opened and nearby Hillcrest Animal Clinic by Dr. Joan Nafe and Dr. Larry Nafe. They kept him at the clinic for about a week on IV treatment and sent him home to regular activity which included long runs daily in local parks. He lived a long and very active life with me and was about 16Y/O when we said goodbye. I don't recall what medicine the vets used but it was totally effective. Treatment cost is irrelevant when a family member is ill. It's only money. That clinic is still operating, I believe. Locally, Dr. Rawn Gabbard provides care for all our four legged family and has since 1999. He is at the Animal Care Veterinary Center and has a caring and knowledgeable staff. We've had no complaints over fourteen years of care and numerous animals. Vet care is expensive. However, not providing care when you know effective treatment is available will cost you a lot more than money. You'll quickly forget the money you spend. You won't forget your dog.

Courtney Spradlin
Courtney Spradlin 01/13/14 - 02:14 pm
Heart worm treatment seems to

Heart worm treatment seems to have changed over the years.
I know it'll be upwards of $1,000 when it's said and done. But you're right. Won't forget my buddy. Will forget where the money went.
Thanks David.

HuntingWife 01/15/14 - 09:22 am
From Experience and Lots of Research

Our yellow male Labrador was diagnosed with heartworms a few years ago and we, my husband and I, decided to do the quicker treatment due to lack of knowledge. After such a harsh treatment he was unable to stand at times, coughed up blood (requiring a trip to the emergency clinic in Maumelle), and was just pitiful. Now several years later and much more knowledgeable, we would have done things completely different. My husband trains Labradors for a living and has researched this topic through and through, speaking to other trainers, professionals and has come to the conclusion to do the slow treatment is the more ideal way to go. It's a big decision because it's a member of your family's life held in your own hands......I'm sure you will do what's best for Jax. Good luck!

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