Treating heartworm in shelter dogs: Yes, you can!

Do you think treating heartworm in shelter dogs is expensive, difficult, and impractical? Would it surprise you to know that veterinarians and students of the UF Veterinary Community Outreach Program have developed a treatment plan that’s affordable and successful?

They’ve treated hundreds of animals with heartworm infection since the program launched in 2008, and at the 2014 Maddie’s Shelter Medicine Conference, UF’s Dr. Natalie Isaza walked attendees through the process.

The problem itself is dire, especially in the South. “In shelter dogs, we can have prevalence as high as 70 percent in endemic areas,” Dr. Isaza said. “In the South, it’s pretty bad because we have optimal temperature, climate, and the mosquito hosts to spread this disease around. We also have a lot of reservoir dogs, stray dogs, and wild canids.”

In her presentation, Dr. Isaza covered:

  • The basics of heartworm transmission, with a focus on shelter populations
  • An overview of testing issues for animal shelters
  • Survey of preventive options and the rising tide of resistance
  • The “slow kill” controversy
  • The role of antibiotics as part of a heartworm treatment protocol
  • Exercise restriction
  • Specific shelter treatment protocols

So if you have questions about heartworm in shelter dogs, and could use some inspiration and education, watch the video of Dr. Isaza’s complete presentation, “Treating Heartworm in Shelter Dogs: 500+ cases and counting,” below, and read the transcript here.