Heartworms enter a dog's system when he's bitten by an infected mosquito. If your dog is diagnosed with heartworm disease, he needs treatment to get these potentially deadly worms out of his system. Melarsomine dihydrochloride, marketed under the trade name Immiticide, is the drug used to kill adult heartworms. Immiticide treatment isn't an easy process, with complications common. However, not treating a dog with adult heartworms means he almost will certainly die from the infestation.
Immiticide treatment consists of two or three shots. If using just two doses, the dog receives another injection the next day. For the three-dose treatment, he receives an initial injection and then returns one month later for a daily injection on two consecutive days. Your dog receives the Immiticide injection deep in his lumbar muscles in his back. The injection often causes pain and your pet might experience soreness in the area afterward. Your dog must stay confined, preferably in a crate, for at least a month during treatment. Lack of movement helps prevent possible blood clots and death because of dying worms. The more he moves around, the higher his heart rate, which increases the likelihood of a fatal, worm-related embolism. While dogs in earlier stages of heartworm disease benefit from Immiticide treatment, canines suffering from stage 4 heartworm disease must first have worms surgically removed via the jugular vein to survive.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.