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10 month puppy with heartworm.

Species: Dog
Breed: Unknown; Terrier mix
Age: 6-12 months
I am considering adopting a 10 month old puppy from the SPCA and was told he was "low positive" for heartworm. The lady at the SPCA told me b/c he is so young, that I could simply give him Heartguard once a month for treatment (which I would do anyway for prevention), instead of having to get the really expensive treatment. Is this correct information?


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Thanks for a great question!

There are a few factors to consider here.

If this were my case I would want to be repeating the heartworm test to confirm that it is a true positive. As with any test, you can sometimes get false positives. I would likely use a different type of test. So, if I had a patient with a low positive on an antigen test (which is what I usually use) then I would likely do a DNA test next and also repeat another antigen test to confirm.

Heartworms have to be present for 6 months before they are detectable by a heartworm test. While it is possible for a dog to get heartworm at less than 4 months of age it is not common.

If this truly is heartworm then I would likely recommend the immiticide treatment which is unfortunately the expensive one.

If we treat with Heartgard, the heartgard will kill any microfilaria (baby heartworms) that are produced but will not kill any adult heartworms that are there. It will take 2-3 years for those adult heartworms to die. In this time it can cause damage to his heart, and can also cause him to be generally unwell.

So, I usually only recommend monthly heartgard as a treatment when owners cannot afford the immiticide treatment.

I would advise you have your vet look at little Skeeter and repeat the heartworm test. Hopefully we just have a false positive and then no treatment is necessary!

Dr. Marie.


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

Customer reply:

How much would a DNA heartworm test cost? repeat antigen test? and general cost of ivermectin treatment?

Thanks!


Customer reply:

I'm sorry I meant how much is the immiticide treatment generally.

Thanks


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Ah, these are tough questions to answer as prices will vary a lot from area to area.

A regular heartworm test can be anywhere from $15-$40. A DNA test will be a little bit more than that.

You will likely need to have an exam with a vet before they can do the test. This will be about $50-$80.

The immiticide treatment (note, not ivermectin) depends on a number of factors. The last one I did was around $1000.00, but they can be less.



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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.