heartwormWe could all do a lot with an extra thousand bucks, right? A week-long inclusive vacation, season tickets to the Spurs, or new kitchen cabinets might round out the list of possible options. However, in the case of an unfortunate diagnosis of heartworm disease in your pet, that little nest egg could be applied to the cost of treatment.

Heartworm prevention isn’t free either, but when you consider the entire annual cost is about $200, the difference between prevention and treatment is clear.

What Does Treatment Entail?

Yearly screenings can cost about $50 but provides the chance to detect heartworm disease early. If a positive result is found, we can proceed with treatment, which can result in a better prognosis with fewer complications.

Generally speaking, treatment can be expensive, difficult, and uncomfortable for your pet. Blood work, echocardiograms, intramuscular injections, overnight hospitalization and observation, a long course of antibiotics, and highly restricted exercise options all make treatment almost unbearable for pets. In addition, the average cost of treating heartworm is $1000-1500.

Keeping Score

To sum up, heartworm is preventable but difficult to treat. Unlike other parasitic worms that pass between dogs, heartworms fall into the bloodstream via the mouth of an infected mosquito. A dog is an ideal host to grow these worms and can sometimes harbor hundreds of them in the lungs and heart.

Symptoms can go unnoticed by even the most astute pet owner. Indeed, they’re often subtle at first (typically a cough), escalating to severe infection with signs such as:

  • Weight loss
  • Respiratory difficulty
  • Lethargy
  • Bulging chest
  • Collapse
  • Nosebleeds
  • Blindness
  • Increased blood pressure

Initial signs can be very helpful at immediate intervention leading to a positive prognosis. Delaying veterinary help can have devastating results.

It Still Happens

Cats are not considered optimal hosts for heartworms, but they can still be affected. Unlike dogs, however, it’s impossible to treat cats with heartworm. That fact alone makes heartworm prevention critical for our feline friends.

The Cost of Heartworm Prevention

While the cost of year-round heartworm prevention can still add up, you save in the long run. A monthly oral or topical preventive or veterinarian administered injection twice a year can kill immature heartworms. Add to that the annual cost of a heartworm screening.

While no preventive method can entirely remove the risk, waiting until a heartworm test comes back positive isn’t necessarily a sensible choice when your pet’s overall health and wellbeing are considered. And, since heartworm has been detected in all 50 states, remaining on the path of prevention can reduce your pet’s chances of infection when crossing borders or meeting friends from afar.

Keep Calm (and Eradicate Mosquitoes)

Do your part to keep your property free of standing water, ensure screens around your home are complete and intact, and don’t allow your pet’s parasite prevention to lapse (this includes pets who are strictly indoors).

If you have additional questions or concerns about heartworm prevention, we encourage you to contact us.