Veterinarians and owners have had a lot of questions about approaches to heartworm disease in dogs. In some cases, dogs have been just diagnosed, or are partially through standard treatment protocols. At this time of COVID-19 when veterinarians are limiting services to only emergency/essential care, neither heartworm testing nor treatment is considered “essential” in the short-term for asymptomatic dogs. Preventives, however, should be maintained.
Heartworm testing for dogs:
- If the dog has been on preventives, testing can be delayed for up to 6 months. It is recommended to prescribe 6 months of heartworm preventive.
- If the dog has missed >3 months of preventive medication, testing is recommended. After 6 months, testing is strongly recommended. Even if testing cannot be performed:
- 6 months of heartworm preventive may be prescribed;
- Educate owners about mosquito abatement; and
- Test as soon as normal operations resume.
Heartworm treatment for HW positive dogs:
- Macrocytic lactone treatment: continue on a macrocyclic lactone treatment indefinitely
- If doxycycline treatment has been initiated at 10mg/kg, complete 4 weeks; no further doxycycline is needed unless 1 year has passed.
- If 5mg/kg was used, repeat in 6 months.
- Melarsomine/adulticide injections:
- If no doses of melarsomine have been given, treatment can be delayed until normal operations resume.
- If one dose of melarsomine has been given, second and third injections of the 3-dose protocol can be delayed up to 6 months. Injections 2 and 3 should be administered within 24 hours of each other.
*For the complete document please visit the American Heartworm Society COVID-19 resources page at https://www.heartwormsociety.org/