Whatโ€™s the Cost of Heartworm Treatment? Compare Prices for Heartworm Prevention and Treatment

Whatโ€™s the Cost of Heartworm Treatment?
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Heartworm is a scary disease that has the potential to be fatal to your pet. Sadly, there aren't any treatment options for cats, and although there are treatment options out there for dogs, these can be very expensive. Find out here what you can expect to pay for heartworm prevention versus treatment.

Heartworm disease is a potentially deadly condition caused by parasites that are transmitted via mosquito bites. The cost of heartworm treatment depends on whether you have a cat or a dog and how advanced the disease is.

When a dog (the main target of heartworms) or a cat is bitten, heartworm larvae are passed along, and after hatching, the parasites can grow up to one foot inside an animal’s body, causing progressively worsening symptoms, including coughing, fatigue, difficulty breathing, and issues with the lungs, heart, and liver.

Though not always the case, some cats have been known to fight off heartworms using their own internal defenses. The important thing to note is that while heartworm can be prevented in both cats and dogs, there are only treatments for affected dogs, making prevention for cats critical.

What's the Cost of Heartworm Treatment for Dogs?

The American Animal Hospital Association places the average cost of preventative heartworm treatment for dogs at $5-$15 per month and the cost of treating a dog already diagnosed with heartworm at $400-$1,000. With both prevention and treatment, costs typically increase with the weight of the dog. Prices may vary depending on your pet insurance policy’s coverage options.

“While treatment of canine heartworm disease is usually successful, prevention of the disease is much safer and more economical,” says the American Heartworm Society (AHS). The AHS recommends administering preventatives (like Trifexis) to dogs—those that have been tested and found to be heartworm-free or those under the age of 6 months—all year long, even in areas with colder weather.

Heartworm preventatives, like Trifexis, Tri-Heart Plus, Interceptor Plus, and Iverhart Max for dogs,  come in tablets or chewable and in topical treatments, which usually provide protection for a month and are administered monthly.

As an additional preventative measure, the FDA recommends that dogs should be tested by a vet annually to check for the presence of heartworms.

Treatment entails injections, and oftentimes hospitalization is required. Recovery can take up to a couple of months.

“Treatment is expensive because it requires multiple visits to the veterinarian, bloodwork, x-rays, hospitalization and a series of injections,” according to the FDA. Recovery can take up to six months, and there are often lasting effects on the animal's heart.

What's the Cost of Heartworm Treatment for Cats?

Veterinary Pet Insurance states that the average cost of preventing an external parasite in cats and dogs is $84.89 annually. There is currently no treatment for cats with preexisting heartworm disease in the United States, so preventative care is even more important than in dogs. the FDA recommends that cats get tested annually at the vet to detect the presence of heartworms.

Though there is no heartworm medicine that actually treats existing heartworm infections in cats, some cats have had surgery to remove the parasites (which is only possible when the worms can be detected via ultrasound). Additionally, medications and therapies may be given to treat symptoms related to the condition but not as a cure.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is heartworm treatment so expensive?

Heartworm treatment is expensive due to several factors: Heartworm medications are relatively new, and their high price is attributed to research and development costs. Moreover, the medication is often imported, making it more expensive to obtain. Heartworm treatment typically requires several visits to the veterinarian and the administration of multiple medications over a period of time. Before starting treatment, a series of diagnostic tests are performed to confirm the presence of heartworms and evaluate the severity of the infection.

What to do if you can't afford heartworm treatment?

If you can't afford heartworm treatment for your pet, here are some options to consider. You can contact local animal shelters or non-profit organizations that may offer financial assistance for veterinary care. Also, talk to your veterinarian about setting up a payment plan or negotiating the cost of treatment. Research other veterinary clinics in your area to compare pricing and consider alternative treatment options. This may not be helpful in an emergency, but investing in pet insurance can help cover the costs of unexpected veterinary bills, including heartworm treatment.

How long can a dog live after heartworm treatment?

The length of a dog's life after heartworm treatment can vary depending on several factors. The more advanced the heartworm infection, the harder it can be to treat and the more impact it may have on the dog's overall health. Older dogs and those with other health problems may have a harder time recovering from heartworm treatment. Also, proper adherence to the treatment plan, including giving the medication on schedule and following all recommended follow-up tests, is crucial for success. Typically, a dog that has received appropriate treatment for heartworm disease can return to normal life and live for many years. However, if the infection is severe or the dog has underlying health issues, it may shorten its lifespan.

What percentage of dogs survive heartworm treatment?

The percentage of dogs that survive heartworm treatment varies depending on several factors, including the severity of the infection, the age and overall health of the dog, and the success of the treatment plan. In general, with proper treatment and care, the survival rate for dogs with heartworm disease is estimated to be around 70-90%. However, some dogs may have permanent damage to the heart and lungs even after successful treatment.

How to get rid of heartworms in a dog without going to the vet?

It is not recommended to attempt to treat heartworm in a dog without the guidance of a veterinarian. Heartworm disease is a serious condition that can have severe consequences if not properly diagnosed and treated. Treatment options are available only with a prescription from a licensed veterinarian, and self-medicating or using alternative treatments without proper supervision can be harmful and ineffective. If cost is a concern, it's important to discuss options with your veterinarian, such as payment plans or assistance from local animal shelters or non-profit organizations.

More on Heartworm Prevention

Sure Signs of Heartworm
How Do Dogs and Cats Get Heartworm Disease?
Heartworm Medicine

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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