My sweet girl has heartworms.

Her treatment started a little over a month ago, when she was put on Doxycycline, an antibiotic, to prevent infection from bacteria that inhabit the heartworms. She took one pill a day for about 30 days. Sometimes, she’d take it in her food, but most of the time we gave it to her in peanut butter. I never tried just giving the pill to her because picking up a soggy, disintegrating pill was not how I wanted to spend my mornings.

After she finished her antibiotics, I scheduled the first of two hospital visits for injections. Bleu was given an injection of Immiticide to kill the adult heartworms. She then stayed overnight at the vet’s to insure that there were no side effects. When I picked her up the next day, the vet stressed that I was to keep her as still as possible and that I was to call {or take to her to the emergency clinic} immediately if I noticed anything unusual.

“Bed rest” is essential for Bleu’s health. A few days after the injection, the heartworms start to die and decompose. As the worms breakdown, the pieces of decomposing worms can block vessels in the lungs, causing a blood cot, which can lead to death. If she gets excited or anything like that, this heightens the chance of injury or death.

For the first few days, Bleu was a little angsty about being caged. I think it reminded her of her days in the shelter. But she’s a fairly mellow dog, so she hasn’t started barking or anything like that. She does occasionally whimper and whine. And, I won’t lie, it is difficult to hear her. I’m used to her following me around the house and just, generally, being underfoot.

We were able to get her on a fairly regular schedule for eating and bathroom breaks. She doesn’t chase cars or squirrels, so there are no real worries on that end. Like I said, the biggest thing for her {and for me} is that she can’t follow me around the house.

On 14 December, I’ll drop Bleu off at the vet for the second part of her treatment. This part of her treatment will consist of two injections, given 24 hours apart, and a two-day stay at the vet. She will then be confined to the cage for another 30 days, after which time, she’ll be re-tested for heartworms. If the test is negative, she’ll go on a preventative. If it’s positive, we’ll discuss other courses of action.

I was asked how we found out that Bleu had heartworms, like were there any signs. Looking back, I can say “yes.” At the time, I didn’t realize they were signs {she had a cough, but I thought it was allergies, because she only coughed after being in the grass}. But her diagnosis was just a happenstance of a visit for her yearly vaccinations. While I was at the vet’s they asked if I wanted to test her and I said “sure.”

Five signs your fur baby may have heartworms:

  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Persistent cough
  • Bulging ribs
  • Difficulty breathing


Feel free to follow Bleu on Instagram.


Daenel T {Living Outside the Stacks}




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