Heartworms are deadly for dogs and can affect their blood, heart and lungs.
But owners often wonder why they need to restrict exercise for their heartworm positive dog, and wonder whether their dog can jump on the couch after heartworm treatment or do other activities. We explain in this article.
If you have a pet that was diagnosed with heartworm disease, you have to pay proper attention to how you live at home with your dog to prevent the disease from spreading, but especially in recovery.
It takes six to eight weeks for the injectable heartworm adulticide treatment to kill the heartworms, but as these worms die, pieces of their decomposing bodies may cause a blockage to blood vessels in the lungs. This may cause a fatal blood clot which is why quarantining and keeping your dog calm is essential to avoid increasing their heart rate and blood pressure which increases this risk.
This includes jumping on the couch or the bed or running around the house, which will make them exhausted and wear them down much more than usual, as well as be potentially dangerous to the dog’s health.
In this article, we will discuss in more detail heartworm disease, how to take care of a dog with heartworm infection and how you can get your dog back into shape after heartworm disease.
Why Can’t My Dog Jump on the Couch After a Heartworm Treatment Protocol?
Heartworm infection can be a lot to deal with for the dog since it affects most of their major organs.
But the most important reason is the period after treatment which is where exercise restriction is absolutely essential.
They require a prolonged treatment plan and medication to get them back into shape.
Heartworm treatment typically lasts about 8 weeks, during which your dog needs to be kept inactive and in a calm and soothing environment.
After your dog has been successfully treated, you cannot expect them to go back to running and jumping like they used to because the dead heartworms can still pose a threat to most dogs unfortunately.
Physical activity with other dogs or other physical activity means an increase in your dog’s heart rate, which increases the risk of decomposing adult heartworms causing a fatal pulmonary embolism in your dog.
Keep your dog inactive and under exercise restriction as difficult as it is for them.
Heartworms can also be indirectly transmitted from the dog to the human body through faecal matter, so you must quarantine your dog when they are under treatment for heartworm infection.
How Long Does a Dog Need to Rest After Heartworm Treatment?
From the day your dog is diagnosed with heartworm infection, you will have to wait for about 5 months before your dog can resume previous levels of physical activity, according to the American Heartworm Society guidelines.
During this period, many kinds of heartworm prevention medication and treatments (like melarsomine injections) will be administered to your dog.
Even after this time, you shouldn’t expect your dog to jump right back into an earlier routine.
Even if they seem excited, keeping them tame and slowly easing them into their daily activities one step at a time is vital.
This is because their tolerance for physical energy exertion might have lowered during the treatment process and in recovery.
While 5 months is a very long time, it’s better to be safe than sorry after heart worm infection.
Why Do Dogs Need to Rest After Heartworm Treatment?
Heartworms are deadly parasites that affect major organs in the dog’s body, like the lungs and heart.
When you provid treatment for heartworm infection for your dog, it kills the heartworms, but there might still may be bits of decomposing heart worm that can clog blood vessels with increased heart rate.
When you allow your dog to overexert their energy levels by jumping and running around, it can cause their heart rate to increase, which in turn forces some of these decomposing bits of the heartworm to be pushed into the bloodstream.
This can result in fatal pulmonary embolism and be deadly for the dog.
This means strictly restricting activity ensuring your dog can stay calm is essential.
What Happens if My Dog Gets Excited After Heartworm Treatment?
If there is too much excitement, then it will cause the heart rate to increase.
This increase in blood pressure might cause some of the bits of the decomposing heartworm to move around and get clogged into the bloodstream.
Typically, it affects the lungs, which causes problems in breathing and other complications which might be deadly for the dog.
If you notice any of these clinical signs like labored breathing, contact your veterinarian immediately.
This is why it is recommended that you give your dog 6 to 8 weeks of rest even after the heartworm treatment is over.
The medication will kill the heartworm in their body, but the small pieces of the worm that are left behind take about 6 weeks to decompose and pass out of the dogs’ system entirely.
Keep your dog quiet and calm while this happens.
Frequently Asked Questions About Treatment Recovery Period for A Heartworm Positive Dog
The following questions were the most commonly asked we found online during our research by worried dog owners.
Hopefully, these answers can put dog owners’ minds at ease for dogs undergoing heartworm treatment for heartworm disease:
Does a Dog Need Crate Rest for Heartworm Treatment?
It is recommended that you quarantine your dog for a few weeks during and after the treatment process is done so that they can go through a full recovery as quickly as possible.
If you are having trouble keeping your dog confined to a quiet space, you may have to use a crate.
You can allow your dog to walk to the bathroom or go on short walks with you, but you must put strenuous exercise to a complete stop.
Can My Dog Walk Around the House After Heartworm Treatment?
It is safe for dogs to walk around the house after heartworm treatment but make sure they are on a leash or that you are closely monitoring their activities so they don’t try to release their energy by running around or jumping.
How Do You Keep a Dog Occupied During Heartworm Treatment?
You can try different ways to make their feeding time more stimulating, like with food puzzles (kong balls, for example).
You can also spend some quality time with them to ease the anxiety they feel during and after the treatment.
You can even give them chew toys or chew hides to keep them occupied, which also helps release some of their pent-up energy or give them puzzles to keep their mind stimulated but their bodies at rest.
Can You Walk Your Dog Outside After Heartworm Treatment?
Yes. They can be safely leash walked.
But ensure you always have your dog on a short leash to prevent them from running or exerting too much energy.
If you see anything that may stimulate a response from your dog like an other dog that it doesn’t like, avoid it from a distance before yours gets worked up.
What Activities Can My Dog Not Do After Heart Worm Treatment?
- Play fetch
- jump on the bed
- jump on the couch
- Get super involved with anything too exciting, whether it’s other dogs, a puppy, babies or anything else that overly excites dogs
Heartworms are a significant threat to dogs’ health, so unfortunately, no your dog cannot jump on the couch after heartworm treatment. (Sad, we know, because we love jumping on the couch with our dogs too!)
Heartworms can also be transmitted to other pets, so it is recommended that you quarantine heartworm positive dogs.
The quarantine is not only because of the contagious nature of the infection but also to keep the dog away from stress.
Heartworms cause the infected dog to suffer from fatigue and weight loss, so you need to keep them in a calming environment where there is little anxiety-inducing stimulation.
Experts recommend that you give them a few months of inactivity when the heartworm treatment is ongoing.
Even after the treatment, don’t expect your dog to return to acting like they were.
Slowly ease them into their daily routine with baby steps.
If you notice them taking another downturn in health once they get back to their everyday, active life, then seek a vet immediately for advice.