Snorty McDoggelsson is back home. He recently tested positive for heartworm, and yesterday I brought him to the critical care vet for the first of three injections of the drug that will kill the worms.
I was very surprised when I learned that he had heartworm, because he got his Heartgard medication regularly. The vet theorized that he has probably had it since before I adopted him. She said that it typically takes around six months after infection before the tests will come back positive. And the Heartgard medication only kills the baby worms, not the adult ones.
The vet was able to get Merial, the company that manufactures Heartgard, to give us the adult worm medication for free. They also gave us a free one-year supply of Heartgard. The vet said this was a good thing, because the adult medication (Immiticide) is very expensive. Of course I still have to pay for the vets' services.
We decided to bring him to the critical care facility for his treatment because of his past history of going into shock. They took x-rays of his heart and lungs before giving him the injection to make sure things looked normal (they did), and they monitored him really closely afterwards. They said he did really well, with no signs of adverse reactions.
Still, he is now on prophylactic medication to minimize the chance of severe complications. He is on aspirin to thin his blood, Benadryl to combat allergic reactions, and prednisone (a corticosteroid) to guard against anaphylaxis and inflammation. Additionally, the poor dog will be on severe exercise restriction for the next several weeks to two months. This is because as the worms die, we need to give them time to dissolve into the bloodstream. Physical exertion causes the heart to pump harder, which increases the risk that pieces of the dead worms will dislodge before they get dissolved, which would cause embolism that's potentially fatal.
*sigh* Poor doggie. It breaks my heart that he has all these medical issues. He is such a friendly, sweet dog, so it seems very unfair that he was dealt this hand.
So for the foreseeable future he will be pretty much locked in my bedroom to minimize his contact with anything that may excite him. He will only be taken outside to pee and poo, and he will absolutely not be allowed to come in contact with other dogs, or cats, or squirrels.
The Benadryl will help some, because it makes him drowsy, so if he is on it constantly it will reduce his need to play. I just hope he comes out of this okay. Next month he will go back to the critical care vet for his next round of heartworm injections. He will be given one dose, be monitored overnight at the animal hospital, and given another dose 24 hours later. After that, it will be another four to six weeks of zero exercise.
I'm going to tell my roommate that under no circumstances is he to bring any friends of his into the apartment, no exceptions. Well, one exception is his girlfriend, whom Devon seems to just ignore completely. And the roommate will no longer be allowed to have his mom visit, either, because she always brings her dog with her wherever she goes.
Tomorrow I'm staying home with the dog, but after that I have to go back to work. I'll have to forego the super-cafeteria for now so that I can come home every lunch time to check on him. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that all goes perfectly well, so that by the time Bill is back Doggles will be back to his normal playful self.