Heartworm FAQs

  • What is the general outline for the FACE heartworm treatment protocol?

    We will conduct an initial phone screen to determine if your dog is a good candidate for an official consultation appointment. At the consultation visit, we will run tests and conduct an exam. If your pet is accepted to the program, we will schedule three injection appointments that will take place within three months. Six months later, we will conduct more tests to determine if the treatment worked. One year later, we will test your dog for heartworms one final time to ensure that the treatment was successful and is complete. Then, your dog will be a graduate of the FACE heartworm program and their photo will be displayed in our lobby for everyone to celebrate your healthy best friend!

  • What happens if I miss an injection appointment?

    The injection schedule is extremely important for the medication to be successful, and we encourage you to find every possible way to keep an appointment. In case of emergency, we will try to schedule an additional appointment as soon as possible. However, this will result in an additional cost and may extend the treatment.

  • Why should I consider FACE to perform my dog's heartworm treatment?

    FACE Low-Cost Animal Clinic has been a trusted veterinary provider in the Indianapolis community for over 25 years and our medical team is devoted to excellence. Our heartworm treatment protocol includes sophisticated diagnostics, one year of ProHeart medication, and three injections of melarsomine. This is the “gold star” level of treatment and the same standard of care administered at a private vet clinic.

    We believe in offering the “gold standard”, and reducing our cost to the public by focusing on efficiencies, high volume, creative solutions, and community support.

  • Why is strict cage rest so important?

    The medications used in this treatment affect the dog’s heart, and it is crucial that your pet’s pulse and blood pressure remain at a resting state. If your dog’s heart is beating fast and blood is moving quickly, your pet is at serious risk of a pulmonary clot. This can result in a number of severe health issues, including death. If your pet is struggling to stay on cage rest, we may prescribe an additional medication to keep them calm.

  • How much does this treatment cost and when is payment due?

    The cost of the medications vary by weight and the total cost includes one full year of treatment and follow up. The total cost for heartworm treatment ranges from $1,240 for a small dog and $1,990 for a large dog. We are not able to accept Care Credit or any other form of financing. However, we recognize that this program may not be affordable for many families. In an effort to minimize the financial impact of care, we are able to spread payments over the first three months of care. A detailed pay schedule is available upon request.

  • Could there be additional charges to the treatment plan?

    Yes, this is possible. For example, if your pet is experiencing anxiety during a visit, she may need to return at a later date with medication to keep her calm. Additionally, if your pet experiences side effects that need additional treatment from a full-service veterinarian or emergency clinic, these costs are not covered by FACE.

  • What happens if the treatment doesn't work?

    Our heartworm treatment program is extensive and follows the full and complete recommendations of the American Heartworm Association. The success rate of this method is very high. However, there are no guarantees in medicine, and there is a small chance that additional injections may be needed, or that the heartworm disease does not respond to treatment. We do not offer refunds if the treatment does not work.

  • Is there financial assistance for treatment?

    Not at this time.

  • What happens if my dog gets pregnant during treatment?

    Heartworm treatment will pause until the patient is no longer pregnant. Treatment can resume after the veterinarian determines the health of the animal. We very strongly recommend spaying your dog before heartworm treatment begins.

  • Do you provide heartworm treatment for cats?

    FACE does not provide heartworm treatment for cats, but we do offer heartworm preventatives. Please see this page for information on protecting your cat from heartworm disease year-round.

  • What conditions might make a dog NOT eligible for treatment?

    Your dog might be deemed ineligible for our heartworm treatment if they have other underlying health conditions, are pregnant, are experiencing age-related illness, or exhibit uncontrollable, aggressive behavior that is a safety issue for both our staff and patient.

Strict Cage Rest

The most important thing you can do to minimize complications during treatment is to restrict your pet's exercise before, during and after the melarsomine injections. When adult worms die, they collapse and are pushed deeper into the smaller branches of the vessels that supply blood to the lungs. Because exercise increases blood flow to the lungs, it increases the likelihood that dead worms will block blood flow. This can result in severe complications and possibly death. The importance of restricting your dog's activity cannot be overemphasized.

Boredom Relief

Give Companionship - Replace activity with affection by keeping them close to you while you watch TV or read in bed. Avoid visitors (both human and dog). Keep your dog away from windows if they are prone to barking or getting excited when people or animals are in view.

Extend Mealtime - Give them Kongs or puzzle feeders that require long-term play to get at food or treats.

Let Them Chew - Boredom can lead to destructive behavior to their environment and even themselves. Offer them safe, long-lasting chew toys to keep them occupied and happy.

Brain Games - Introduce new games and tricks that will help to decrease boredom. Try a game of stationary catch or click-train them to follow quiet commands while remaining in their crate.

Your heartworm treatment appointments

  • Initial Consultation (Day One)

    During your consultation appointment, you will stay with your dog for approximately two hours. You can expect the following for your dog:
    – Heartworm education
    – A physical exam
    – Blood and urine sample gathering
    – X-rays taken and interpreted
    – A ProHeart injection
    – A 30-day supply of doxycycline will be sent home
    – Prednisone medication possibly sent home
    – Exercise restriction begins
    – Home observation for 8 hours
    You will be given a packet of informational materials regarding heartworm treatment and education. We will explain the importance of activity restrictions for your pet. You will need to acquire a kennel to house your dog during their extended period of “strict cage rest”. The day after your consultation, we will call with test results, then schedule your first dog’s first injection of melarsomine. Your next appointment will be in eight weeks.

  • Injection 1 (Day 56 - 8 weeks after consultation)

    During your dog’s first injection visit, you will drop them off in the morning and pick them up in the early afternoon. You can expect the following for your dog:
    – A physical exam
    – A mild sedation given prior to injection
    – An intramuscular injection of melarsomine
    – A period of direct monitoring by our recovery team
    – Medications sent home
    – Strict cage rest begins

    Upon release, we will send you home with trazodone for post-injection sedation, gabapentin to manage pain, and prednisone to help prevent a potential allergic reaction to dying heartworms. It is important that you closely monitor your pet the rest of this day.

    You will be advised on the specifics of strict cage rest, medication explanations, potential injection complications, emergency vet referrals, and general post anesthesia instructions.

  • Injection 2 (Day 91 - 5 weeks after injection 1)

    During your dog’s second injection visit, you will drop them off in the morning and pick them up in the early afternoon. You can expect the following for your dog:
    – A physical exam
    – A mild sedation given prior to injection
    – An intramuscular injection of melarsomine
    – A period of direct monitoring by our recovery team
    – Medications sent home
    – Strict cage rest continues

    Upon release, we will send you home with trazodone for post-injection sedation, gabapentin to manage pain, and prednisone to help prevent a potential allergic reaction to dying heartworms. It is important that you closely monitor your pet the rest of this day.

    You will be advised on the specifics of strict cage rest, medication explanations, potential injection complications, emergency vet referrals, and general post anesthesia instructions.

  • Injection 3 (Day 92 - 24 hours after injection 2)

    During your dog’s third injection visit, you will drop them off in the morning and pick them up in the early afternoon. You can expect the following for your dog:
    – A physical exam
    – A mild sedation given prior to injection
    – An intramuscular injection of melarsomine
    – A period of direct monitoring by our recovery team
    – Strict cage rest continues

    You will be advised on the specifics of strict cage rest, medication explanations, potential injection complications, emergency vet referrals, and general post anesthesia instructions.

  • Follow-up (Day 120 - 4 weeks after injection 3)

    During your follow-up appointment, you can expect the following:
    – A blood draw
    – Microfilaria screening
    – Strict cage rest changes to “reduced exercise activity” (pending test result)

    We will review current activity restrictions and schedule your final appointment.

  • Anniversary Day (One year from consultation)

    We will take one final blood draw and complete an in-house heartworm test to verify the absence of heartworms. We will then celebrate!