The Surgical Treatment of Canine Heartworm

Canine heartworm treatment typically involves a 2 to 3 day period of hospitalization during which your dog is injected daily in his or her muscles with melarsomine hydrochloride, which kills the adult heartworms. However, some dogs may have progressed too far with the disease and will require surgical treatment.

Caval Syndrome

Dogs who are too overrun with heartworms may develop caval syndrome, in which the cardiovascular system (heart and blood vessels) collapse due to a large amount of heartworms in the right atrium of the heart and the vena cava. Dogs who suffer caval syndrome must receive immediate surgery or the condition is most likely fatal.

Signs of the syndrome include:

  • Pale gums
  • Labored breathing and dark-colored urine

Surgical Canine Heartworm Treatment

Surgery to save a dog from caval syndrome involves removing the blockage from the dog's heart. The surgery comes with a high risk of fatality, but not performing the surgery carries an even greater risk of fatality.

Surgical canine heartworm treatment is the final option for a dog overrun with heartworms. It is better to be cautious and give your dog preventative treatment and, should your dog get heartworm infections, catch the disease early so that your dog can receive traditional injection treatment.