Friday, May 15, 2009

Darlin's Heartworm treatment

Well, if I was ever going to feel like I poisoned my dog, it was this past week. Darlin’ tested positive for adult heartworms and microfilaria (immature heartworms in her blood) last month. She was scheduled for treatment last week, but the mobile vet had to cancel. She had injections here at home in the Vet’s van on Tuesday and Wednesday. She is much too fearful to take her to my Veterinarian. To do so could set her progress back and that’s the last thing I want, nor do I want to do anything that could stress or frighten her.

Surprisingly she did not defecate when the Vet’s assistant carried her out of the house Tuesday. Usually I wouldn’t want anyone else to handle her, but since carrying her I’ve discovered I have a hernia.

If you’re not familiar with the procedure, the dog gets an injection deep into the muscle in the lower part of their back, then a second injection 24 hrs later. She did fine and didn’t show any signs of discomfort. After her injection I had the Vet clip her nails because they have gotten long since having her. The day Animal Control came by to get his trap he saw Darlin wedged between the fence and the dog house. He commented that the pavement kept her nails nice and short.

After the injection I took her back in the house and she ran under my desk to a dog bed. I quickly updated her Pet Finder thread to let her friends know how well she did. I wasn’t online 5 minutes when she started panting and drooling like she does during a thunderstorm. I really had no idea that she was about to experience side effects from the drug.

Within a few minutes her bedding was soaked from drool and she was extremely uncomfortable so I called the Vet and asked about the side effects and how soon should I expect them to occur. I knew about the possibility of shock or seizures, but I didn’t know about other symptoms. She told me that it sounded like Darlin’ was having a reaction and to go ahead and give her the prednisone, then to give her Benadryl. It took her about two hours to relax. She laid down under a piece of furniture in my room so I laid across the bed and watched her.

I had hopes that the second injection the following day wouldn’t affect her as bad. As soon as Darlin heard the assistance voice as she entered my room she started trembling. Dogs may live in the moment, but they don’t forget negative experiences right away. I certainly have witnessed that in a number of dogs throughout the course of my life. The assistant carried her out to the van; I figured she wouldn’t defecate even though she was so scared since she went outside shortly before they arrived. Besides, she did so well the day before. Nope, her anal glands (pardon me) leaked all over the assistant. The Vet said they have no control when they are that frightened.

The Vet gave her something to help counteract the side effects of the injection, plus she had prednisone 30 minutes before she arrived. The second injection was harder on her than the first and it was pretty scary.

Her heart was racing; she was breathing and panting deeply. She was drooling again and no matter what she did she could not get comfortable. If you follow this blog you know she is a very calm and sweet dog. She demands nothing and she is so well behaved that if I didn’t interact with her you would never know she was asleep in my room or under my desk.

She was biting at dog beds, scratching at the dog beds, she stretched out one minute and balled up the next minute. This went on for two hours and it was about 4 hours before she could really relax. It was more like she collapsed from exhaustion. I never saw the whites of a dog’s eyes like I did this week. I watched, took some pictures, and had a long talk with God.

We moved to my bedroom long before it was over. I laid in the floor for awhile, then I watched her from my bed. Two of my dogs crawled over beside her and took turns being near her while another was in a bed nearby. There was no doubt in my mind that the dogs knew something was wrong with Darlin’. You can see that in Sam’s eyes.

She didn’t move out from under that piece of furniture. She did eat two peanut butter dog biscuits and most of her dinner later that night so I knew she was feeling better. She also drank about 12 oz. of water once she relaxed. The next morning she was acting more like herself again and today she was even better.

I’m so glad it’s over. Now I will carefully monitor her activity and stressors over the next two months. Once the worms begin to die off (beginning 5-10 days post treatment) if the heart or lungs are stressed it can be fatal because the worms could cause a clot in the lungs, also known as a pulmonary embolism. Since she is still very fearful it won’t be difficult to keep her calm, however I am concerned about the stress and anxiety that her fears cause on her body.


  1. It is so hard to watch, when our pets are not feeling well.
    One good thing about darlin is that she does show signs when she does not feel well and that at least gives you a heads up.

  2. Thanks for the awesome post. Looking forward to staying current with your blog. Keep it up with your good work. I will share your blog with my friends. Thanks