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SLOW KILL HEARTWORM TREATMENT

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A common practice in Veterinary medicine is the “slow kill” of heartworms in dogs. Heartworms affect the body by causing an inflammatory response and physical blocking of blood flow through the pulmonary arteries. The American Heartworm Society recommends a multimodal approach to killing these worms including a drug called melarsomine. This is the gold standard in heartworm treatment. Due to the expense and time involved, some practitioners advocate for slow will treatment. This process involves staying on monthly heartworm prevention and a month of an antibiotic called doxycycline. While this technique has been shown to weaken and in some cases kill adult heartworms, it is NOT recommended due to lack of consistent efficacy. This treatment should only be pursued if the animal is otherwise asymptomatic and finances will not allow for the animal to be treated with melarsomine. Attempting slow kill treatment may increase the damage to the heart and lungs from heartworms, and could leave the dog with permanent deficits.

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