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Are heartworm preventatives safe?
There is a lot of controversy about heartworm preventative. The drugs adversely affect many dogs. Any symptoms can become worse (weakened vital force produces many symptoms). Over the years at holistic and homeopathic conferences, various veterinarians have reported problems with each of the preventatives.
Homeopathic veterinary opinion
In 2005, at the Advanced Homeopathic Seminar, most of the 15 veterinarians had seen reactions for a few days after the preventative is given (not necessarily a bad thing as the body is removing the toxic effects) and a fair amount of chronic disease. I have seen few problems. One was a Boston Terrier who tried to re-landscape the yard, moving heavy boulders until we stopped the preventative. They are not using any preventatives and blood testing every 6 to 12 months. From the AHVMA conferences, many holistic veterinarians feel that dogs do fine. We all agree that the drug companies are suggesting doses too high and too often.
Life cycle of the heartworm
The heartworm “preventative” is really a “morning after pill” killing the larvae migrating from the skin to the heart, so you need to know the life cycle of the heartworms. The adult heartworms (need a male and a female) produce live young (microfilaria) that circulate in the blood stream. The Microfilaria do not develop any further in this dog. The baby heartworms cannot make adults unless the blood is taken by a mosquito where the microfilaria can go through several larval changes until they end up in the salivary glands of the mosquito.
Very chancy for the heartworm to get into your dog
The larvae fall out when the mosquito bites your dog and crawl through the hole made by the mosquito – they cannot get through the tough skin. Then they must go through further larval changes for 4-6 months and migrate through the muscles and other tissues before they become adults in the dog’s heart. Healthy dogs, and even many who are not that health will mount an immune response against this “intruder” and kill the larvae.
If they make it to the heart
Many dogs can have a few adult worms and not develop serious heart disease. Some can develop severe heart disease. As you can now see, nature has made it quite hard for any baby heartworms to get from one dog to a mosquito to your dog’s heart and become adults. Even the “preventatives” do not always kill the migrating larvae.
How long do mosquitoes have to be alive to have infective heartworm larvae?
This depends on the ambient temperature. It must remain between 72 - 80F day and night for 15-17 days. When it drops to less than 58F the growth/development is inhibited and will take even months to develop in that mosquito. Dr. David Knight in 1999 says that in the northern 2/3s of the country, infective larvae transmission only occurs for 3 – 5 months. Another article says the larvae require approximately two weeks of temperature at or above 80 degrees, yet another – 65 degrees.
One approach – use the preventative
If you are very afraid of your dog getting heartworms, give the preventative carefully. Observing your dog will give you clues that you need to try one of the other preventatives or use none at all. This is another example of the need to keep a Health Journal. The fewer drugs the better, so use ones just for heartworms, not other worms. Learn how to ask yes/no questions of the universe B dowsing, pendulum, intuition, applied kinesiology talks of checking with nature for all your decisions in life and teaching a yes/no finger method). And keep your observations in a journal to evaluate any reactions.
Dosing the preventative
Now that you know the cycle and the temperatures needs, you can see it is safe to give it less frequently than recommended - every 6-8 weeks. Wait to begin until you have seen mosquitoes for at least a month, then give until most mosquitoes are gone. In the Maryland area I would blood test in May or June and stop by October, most years. Stopping for at least 3 - 5 months each year will let you evaluate any impact the preventative is having on the animal. It is important to treat these as serious drugs, watch very carefully for side effects, even subtle ones, and then switch to another kind or treat the dog constitutionally. If you notice no subtle signs of problems from the drugs, keep using them judiciously.
What about older dogs?
As dogs age, it is time to consider the risk of getting heartworms (less active, less outside) with the possible liver toxicity or increased sensitivity to drugs of any kind. Consult with your holistic veterinarian when your dog is 80 yrs old (10 in a German shepherd, golden, lab, for example).
Homeopathic remedies after each dose of preventative?
I do not recommend giving Nux vomica routinely after the preventative (no homeopathic remedies should be given routinely). You can certainly do energy healing after giving a preventative such as Reiki or Healing Touch which you can learn top do yourself or go to a practitioner.
Giving no preventative
Keep you dog as healthy as possible using homeopathic principles. A healthy dog will kill those migrating larvae. Test yearly at your annual physical, or even every 6 months. Your dog could become infected, have a few adult worms in the heart and baby heartworms in the bloodstream, yet not be ill from the infection at all. A healthy body should tolerate a low level of parasites. Therefore, many clients choose to use no preventative and I support them in that choice and recommend blood tests twice a year.
In high mosquito hours of the day stay in or use an herbal repellent.
Other than great health I do not think there are any. Many use herbs but I have seen infections with them and herbs long term can cause problems. There is a heartworm nosode, but we do not have sufficient information to tell if it is really protective, and breeders and vets have reported infections when on the nosode. I am not comfortable using a homeopathic remedy in a non-individualized way. If anything, I would suggest Para-Outta-Site from Spirit Essences as FE are totally safe for long term use. I do not think it is that protective.
The solution is to make your dog as healthy as possible by vaccinating the least, feeding the best diet (probably a raw meat or freshly cooked meat diet with low carbs) for that individual dog, treat symptoms as clues to an underlying problem and treat the energy problem not merely stop the expression of the imbalance (the symptoms). Homeopathy is great for this. A healthy dog will be very unlikely to be ill from heartworms.
What if your dog (or cat) gets heartworms?
Most dogs seem to recover from heartworm infection without the conventional drugs and without serious heart problems. There is, of course, a risk that your dog has an energy weakness for heart problems and if infected, will have serious problems. A healthy dog will usually have no heart problems and the worms will die in a year or so on their own.
Treatment for heartworms
Herbs and homeopathic treatment for adult heartworms are about 75% effective. A base-line heart exam with X-rays will help determine success of holistic treatments. The homeopathic remedies will be for your individual dog or cat, not for “heartworm disease”. You will keep close watch on energy level, coughing, panting and exercise intolerance in addition to any of your dogs individual symptoms. I would suggest good professional homeopathic care. I have seen over 20 dogs recover from heartworms with various herbal and other treatments given by the owners. The only 2 dogs in my practice to get heartworms were treated merely with constitutional remedies. I think they are merely improving the health and the worms are dying off. If needed, conventional treatment can be given.