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  • 1.  Heartworm Positive Dog

    Posted 04-24-2020 01:55 PM

     We adopted a 1-year-old heartworm positive dog a few days ago. We have daily meds that we give him, and he will be going to the shelter for heartworm treatments. He is so sweet, but he is so low energy. I'm just sad for him. I'd love to hear from others who have adopted heartworm positive pets and know what your experience has been like. I so hope that his health and energy improve soon, but I really don't know how long that will take. Thanks in advance for taking the time to read and respond.  

    I can't remember where I buried this image. Sorry for the inconvenience!


  • 2.  RE: Heartworm Positive Dog

    Posted 04-25-2020 06:40 AM

    Hi BethEmma, congratulations on your new family member!  He's a good looking dog.  It is wonderful that you have adopted a dog who needs medical attention, and that you care so much about him.

    I've never had a dog that tested heartworm positive.  Thankfully, heartworms are treatable, but it must be tiring for a dog to go through.  It takes about a month for the heartworms to die, I believe.

    Your new family member needs his R&R.  Now that he is in his own, new, loving home he'll start getting more rest., and a good night's sleep.

    Many years ago I worked at a vet in the reception area.  Someone left a dog overnight and I brought her home that night.  The vet said expect her to be up crying all night, because she was in a new place.  But she slept like a log through the night.  Before I brought her home the vet got rid of her fleas, worms, she had ear mites, a UTI, a bladder infection, and mange.  No wonder she slept like a baby.  She finally felt comfortable enough to sleep.

    Try contacting the shelter and ask them how long it will take for him to get his energy back.  They are used to dealing with heartworm positive dogs.  Maybe it depends on the dog's age, general health, and severity of the heartworms?

    You could also talk to your vet and ask him or her how long it will take to get his energy level back up.  Maybe there are vitamins or something with added nutrition that can help him to get his energy back sooner?

    He's been through a lot, but finally is with his forever family.

    I wish you all the best, and a speedy recover for him.





  • 3.  RE: Heartworm Positive Dog

    Posted 04-25-2020 03:46 PM

    Hi BethEmma,


    This is a helpful website going through some of the basics on heartworm disease:

    A lot of animals post-adoption can be less active than expected over the first week or so as they get acquainted to their new surroundings.  As nice as a lot of shelters and welfare leagues are becoming, a dog kennel is still a tough place to get a good night's sleep in and a lot of times dogs need to get used to the new "normal".

    A lot of the HW positive dogs we see are transferred in from shetlers in the Southeast (SC, AL, MS, etc) and get evaluated for what class of heartworm disease they have (how severe the disease is).  The vast majority of what we see are Class I (can't tell they are sick) or Class II (cough, mild to moderate signs, sometimes lethargy) and we notify adopters at the time they pick up their new kiddo what class of disease they have and what to expect.  Usually, we perform baseline blood work at a minimum to screen for other diseases.  We don't have x-rays available, but a lot of other shelters will perform chest x-rays as part of the work-up for heartworm disease.  These tests would hopefully uncover any other problems that would result in lethargy.  If there are tests in your paperwork for your pup that you don't understand, you can always contact the shelter or your veterinarian to get more information on what was done and what it found.

    It's also not uncommon for a lot of dogs being adopted from shelters to come up positive for intestinal worms or a parasitic problem post-adoption, even though nearly all shelters deworm them on intake.  Based on the lifecycle of these parasites, they usually need several treatments spread out by several weeks or months to definitively treat them and, thankfully, it's strange for dogs that come through our shelter to be there longer than 14 days so while we do treat for parasites, they often only get one dose before someone adopts them.  I don't usually expect things like that to cause lethargy, but having parasites, plus being stressed from the change, plus being heartworm positive sometimes can have an additive effect.

    Thanks for adopting a heartworm positive dog!  It's a huge help.


  • 4.  RE: Heartworm Positive Dog

    Posted 04-25-2020 04:44 PM


    I have known multiple dogs that have survived the treatment and done great!  It's defiantly a difficult and scary treatment but just keep your pup calm and quiet and all will be fine in a few months time.  Good luck to you guys!


  • 5.  RE: Heartworm Positive Dog

    Posted 04-26-2020 09:38 AM

    Thank you! That is so encouraging!