Heart worm prevention

Dog Food Advisor Forums Diet and Health Heart worm prevention

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  • #10953 Report Abuse

    After 8 years of Honeybee on heartworm meds
    he hasn’t had any HW pill in one yr. He’s so sensitive to everything.
    The others haven’t in 4 months.
    I’m scared that I haven’t given to them…but I was also scared of the dangerous side effects they could have.
    I do give them garlic 4 days per week and careful on what hours I let them outside.
    I’ve read up on herbs that prevent heart worm…but there’s just sooo many different sites and herbs – I don’t know which to give.
    Do you give or not give? What info can you give on the herbs. Thanks

    #10955 Report Abuse
    Jackie B

    I help at an animal rescue and have seen first-hand the terrible effects of heartworms on dogs. It is just awful. I wouldn’t skip heartworm preventative. Most dogs tolerate it very well.

    #10968 Report Abuse

    Yes, that’s why I said I’m scared because I hadn’t given the pills in a few months.
    I should have mentioned the others will be started back on them…but I wanted something more natural for Honeybee.
    Anytime he took HW or flea meds…he would get weak.

    #10970 Report Abuse

    The dogs that get heart worm are the dogs that are being over vaccinated, fed processed pet food, given flea & tick preventative, and are being treated with suppressive drugs for every little thing that comes along. Get your dogs immune system healthy, and there is no need for any of these “treatments.”

    #10975 Report Abuse

    The wild coyote population isn’t “over vaccinated, fed processed pet food, given flea & tick preventative, and are being treated with suppressive drugs for every little thing that comes along.” yet when surveyed in a non-drought year over 90% of the adult coyotes in northern Ca were heartworm positive.

    Christie Keith, owner of naturally raised deerhounds, used to think the same way…. until her dogs got heartworm.

    “I have no intention of ever living through what I lived through with Raven and Bran. I can’t keep silent when I see people starting to believe that healthy animals don’t get heartworm and that we can blithely forgo using preventatives if we don’t overvaccinate and feed raw. It’s just not so.


    Conventional heartworm prevention is still the best insurance against heartworms.

    #10978 Report Abuse

    Labs, I feel dammed if I do & dammed if I don’t. Scared when I give…scared when I don’t.
    They haven’t had ANY vaccs in alomost 2 yrs. and I don’t plan on giving ever again.
    Honeybee has been highly over vaccinated, because I didn’t know any better.
    They eat THK and different meats, veggies and fruits. After reading how great Brother’s food is…I will be ordering them a bag. Honeybee is on Albuterol when he starts wheezing…and I hate to even give that to him. But I do know what you’re saying. I’ve heard many ppl say to get them healthy and you don’t have to worry about all those treatments. I just want as natural as I can get for them. And I do know I can give the HW pill every 8 wks and follow w/ milk thistle. But to me…I still feel like I’m giving poison. I just feel torn.

    #10979 Report Abuse

    From my years working at a local vet, I can tell you that the dogs that came in with heartworms were the backyard or hunting dogs that were rarely seen by the vet for anything. We have a high prevalence of heartworms down here and in 9 years we probably saw 3 house dogs with heartworms and hundreds of outdoor dogs with heartworms.

    #10981 Report Abuse

    My comp. froze. Aimee, I totaly understand what you’re saying. Some say the best prevention is the pill. I use to think that…just somewhere in the back of my mind…I think there are other ways now to prevent.
    Patty, that is my understanding too! Like I said before…mine are house doggies and I’m very careful when I let them outside…fenced in yard…and i still stand out with them. If mosquitoes bad…I sprayed them with Dr. Bonners soap and torches were lit and out long enough to potty, then right back inside.
    I know…it only takes one mosquito.

    #10983 Report Abuse
    #10984 Report Abuse

    Hi Honeybeesmom, I found this site. Scroll down the page a little. You will come to a map of the United States, check the key to see how many cases in your state. My state has 1 to 5 cases per clinic/per year. They were fed canned food/human food. None of my childhood dogs ever had heartworm, and they were outside dogs. My 2 dogs that I have now, are my first 2 on my own, since becoming an adult, and they are inside dogs. 🙂 http://www.heartwormsociety.org/pet-owner-resources/heartworm.html

    #10985 Report Abuse

    Thanks, Labs! I wasn’t surprised at the cases in my area, South La. I’ve seen dogs come in to the Humane Society that I worked – tested positive for HW.
    These dogs were mosty outside dogs and throw aways. Mozart was picked up off the streets, a senior deerhead Chi. Poor thing had rotten teeth, dry skin, a broken shoulder that was healing and heavy heartworms.
    I treated him and he peed on all of our beds and pillows. I don’t think he had EVER been inside a home.
    Oh and badley abused and neglected. Had him 4 yrs. now.

    Sister our Boston mix…I grabbbed her off of a busy road as a puppy. Come to find out she was only fed bread and very neglected. But I got to her before she was able to get heartworms. She would have NEVER been able to been an inside dog…with the idiots that had her! She’s been w/ us 5 yrs. now.

    Have had Honeybee 9 yrs. Since 6 wks. old. And he’s HW free. Like I’ve said…I’m just torn on what to do. Figured I would put back oh HW prevention…but Honeybee has me scared. I think it would do him more harm than good. Mosquitoes are gone right now…so at least that’s giving me some time to think, research more and decide.
    I know first hand the horrors of heartworms in pets…it’s horrible! But then again, what about the side effects of the pill?
    It all has me worried and scared.

    #10986 Report Abuse

    But you know, having them on the prevention…none were sick or anything…and none tested postive.
    ( Mozart hasn’t since his treatment and w/ me)
    So I probally just answered my own question.
    I think it’s best and safest to put them back on it. I think I would also have more peace of mind.
    Had them all these yrs and none have HW…so I guess I’ll be safe than sorry.
    Still wish there was a safer and more natural remedy, though.

    #10987 Report Abuse

    My dogs get puppy shots then get titered; we do rabies every 3yrs. Heartworm prevention is something I won’t take a chance on. Honeybeesmom, you know you have to have them tested for heartworm before putting them back on prevention, right?

    #10990 Report Abuse

    Iverhart Plus says – If pet is off Iverhart for 6 months or less, start the medication & test after 6 months since the microfilaria,that take 6 months to mature, will result in a positive test result.
    But of course I will talk to vet to see what he says do.

    #10991 Report Abuse

    Hi, Marie!
    I came back to log off and realized I didn’t greet you. I get forgetful sometimes. Sorry. 🙂

    #11019 Report Abuse

    I don’t have a lot of knowledge on the natural remedies for heart worm or any of that. I can say going through heart worm treatment is not only expensive, but terrifying. I honestly hope that it’s not something you have to deal with, but I would urge you to get your dogs back on the preventative ASAP, having to kennel your dogs all day for months and getting anxiety every time they get excited is nothing worth taking chances on.

    #11032 Report Abuse

    Hello I have a question on the heartworm medicine. I have a min. schnauzer 9 months old. She weighs 10 lb. 2 oz. She will be small because mother was 11 lbs. and father 13lbs. My vet gives Trifexis for heartworm prevention. When she weighed in over 10 lbs he bumped her dose up for dogs that weigh 10.1 to 20lbs. That made the meds go from 140 mg to 270 mg. per dose. So last month I split the pill and just gave her 1/2 . I am uneasy doubling the dose when she only weighs 10.2. I will give her the other 1/2 next month. I am not sure about giving her that large of dose because she is still so small. I live in South Carolina and she is inside dog, goes for 2 walks a day and potty breaks only. Of course I don’t want her to get heartworms, but I also don’t want to pump her little body full of this stuff, month after month, if the smaller dose will do the job. I think Trifexis is new and not sure about long term side effects.

    #11048 Report Abuse

    Hi debra23,
    I don’t know how to answer your quest. Hopefully someone will let you know what to do. Can you call the company and ask? I think I would have done same as you, though, and just split the pill. Seems like he should have just kept the dose the same as before.

    #11049 Report Abuse

    Hi sophia,
    They were put back on HW yesterday. Haven’t had any side effects or heartwoms in years…so I figured its best I put them back on the prevention. And vets office was $5.00 less per box than before. 🙂 Money was never an issue…but it was a nice surprise.

    #11051 Report Abuse
    Hound Dog Mom

    Debra23 –

    If you’re concerned with giving your dog too much medication, I’d avoid Trifexis. Trifexis is a heartworm preventative, broad spectrum de-wormer and an oral flea medication. Go with a formula that is for heartworm and only heartworm – all that other stuff is not necessary and if your dog doesn’t have fleas or worms why worm it and give it flea meds? My vet got me to try Trifexis last summer and one of my dogs puked everytime I gave it to her. Worms and fleas can be effectively treated naturally anyways. I personally give a preventative that does only heartworm, I space doses 6 weeks aprart rather than 4 and only administer during late spring, early fall and summer (I’m in northern new york). I wouldn’t recommend giving a lower dose than what’s recommended.

    #11052 Report Abuse

    Definitely do not give 1/2 a pill and then the next month the other half. Trifexis is not stable when exposed to air and 1/2 pill is not enough. Consider giving 3/4 of a pill and throw out the rest. Hound Dog Mom had a great suggestion, unless you live in an area where you have flea etc. issues all year round, you might want to avoid the excess chemicals when you don’t need them.

    #11053 Report Abuse

    I too agree with Hound Dog Mom BUT there is an alternative to giving the full dose — you can have a compounding pharmacy make a product specific to your pups weight. Dr. Becker mentions it in an article she wrote a year or so ago

    “•Providing your dog is healthy with good kidney and liver function, go with a chemical preventive at the lowest effective dosage (compounded if necessary for dogs that weigh at the low end of dosing instructions), at six (not four) week intervals, for the minimum time necessary during mosquito season.” http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2010/08/03/why-havent-pet-owners-been-told-these-facts-about-heartworm.aspx

    I also agree to only use heartworm meds as fleas are not, in most cases, life threatening and can be treated naturally as HDM mentioned. I also agree with giving every 6 weeks instead of 4 weeks. Additionally, look into the herb called milk thistle. Milk thistle helps the liver process toxins more efficiently. If you decide to give milk thistle, the product needs to be standardized to at least 70% silymarin (the “active ingredient”).

    #11054 Report Abuse

    Honeybeesmom ~~ I haven’t used heartworm preventatives in any of mine for over 20 years. HOWEVER, if you feel better about using it then I think you should by all means!!!!! Since we all have to live with the consequences of the decisions we make, I think it best we make the decisions that make the most sense for our personal situation!!! 🙂 Yes, heartworm is technically a poison but because you feed well, you don’t over vaccinate, don’t treat your yard with chemicals, you limit other toxins etc, the poisons in heartworm meds are not as likely to cause a problem as in an immune compromised animal. It’s all synergistic in my opinion.. And if you use milk thistle after you can help the body eliminate the poison more efficiently.. 🙂

    #11055 Report Abuse

    Hi Shawna!
    I do remember you saying you haven’t used heartworm in over 20 yrs. I wish I weren’t in such a high risk area…or I wouldn’t use. I don’t use chemmicals inside or outside…but use Diatomaceous.
    A quest. about the Milk Thistle. I read you use it 3 days before and 3 days after HW treament. Is that correct?

    #11056 Report Abuse

    Shawna, not meaning YOU use milk thistle that way..:)

    #11072 Report Abuse

    I agree with HDM about spacing. My holistic vet, who we saw yesterday with Ginger, tells us to give it every 42-45 days, May thru October

    #11117 Report Abuse
    Jackie B

    I still would use heart worm preventative. While I do live in a high mosquito area, I’ve seen puppies younger than 1 year with heartworm. Not defective or abused or overvaccinated or anything. Just pups who weren’t given preventative. I would never risk the health of my dog by not giving heartworm preventative. Flea and tick, you can skip if you want.

    And there are probably plenty of undiagnosed cases of heartworm; you can’t rely on anecdotes or recorded case numbers. They aren’t an accurate reflection of the actual number of heartworm cases. Plus, some dogs with heartworms will be asymptomatic for a long period. And if they die w/o an autopsy being done, you never know what killed them.

    #11124 Report Abuse

    Missed your question Honeybeesmom — sorry..

    I’ve seen several recommendations but Dr. Becker recommends giving milk thistle for seven days after any chemical preventative is given. This is the recommendation I would go with. 🙂

    #11133 Report Abuse

    Thanks, Shawna 🙂

    #11214 Report Abuse

    I have also begun looking for a natural way to prevent heartworms. I live in Florida, so there are always mosquitos so it is very important for Shadow (my weim) to have some sort of prevention. As of now, Shadow takes Trifectus for fleas and heartworms monthly. We have never had any problems with fleas, so I am thinking about switching him to a natural flea preventative and maybe just useing hearguard to prevent heartworms. Does anyone know of any other natural heartworm preventatives?

    #11223 Report Abuse

    I’ve just been doing the essential oils/natural sprays/garlic for fleas and mosquitoes. And if I do give a heartworm preventative it is the low dose milbemycin as close to 0.1 mg per lb as I can get it which is the smallest dose of Interceptor. At that dosage it does not cover intestinal parasites.


    #11247 Report Abuse

    in somewhere like Florida I wouldn’t risk going without actual heart worm preventative. If you want to limit your pups exposure to toxins, switching to heart guard is good alternative. If needed you could always add front line on a as needed basis for fleas and other parasites. my dog gets heart guard and front line, although we’re just now having our first flea problem (front line isn’t 100%!), I like giving her heart guard because I can actually see her eat it, instead of alternatives where you can apply it to the skin (although I’m sure they’re just as effective, it makes me more comfortable to give a eatable preventative), and living by the woods she gets into tick infested areas often, the front line seems to help with that. She had to undergo heart worm treatment earlier this year, and it was a terrible experience. I know that Florida has very very high heart worm rates, so in my personal opinion you should keep your dog on an actual preventative and save the natural remedies for less threatening parasites like fleas.

    #11264 Report Abuse

    Yeah, we have mosquitos almost year round, plus me and shadow are always in the wood. I plan on using heartguard next month, as well as give milk thistle 7 days after it is administered. Thanks for your help!

    #11269 Report Abuse

    Some vets feel that heartworm preventatives are substantially increasing our pups risks of cancer. I’m not sure cancer is any better of a disease to get than heartworm? For every give, there is a take.

    There is a vet in southern Florida that is having very good results with alternative heartworm treatment (nosodes to be specific).

    “In my holistic practice, heartworm nosodes ( a homeopathic vaccine) are used as a preventative, on a monthly basis after the initial protocol period, and have proven to be extremely effective. Unfortunately, no statistics are available, but our records indicate no active infestations in any animal tested for heart worms in the past 8 years at our clinic who were protected with the heartworm nosode.” http://www.holisticvetclinic.net/pages/heartworm_treatment

    Dr. Martin Goldstein featured on Oprah, Martha Stewart, author etc also does not recommend heartworm for any of his clients. He is in New York but has clients all over the US. He links heartworm to cancer in his book “The Nature of Animal Healing”.

    There is also a vet that lived in San Francisco (I’m blanking on a name now) that didn’t give his own pup heartworm pills and never contracted heartworm.

    The thing to consider with heartworm — the pup has to be bitten by a mosquito carrying heartworm in L3 stage, the dog has to be bitten twice, the immune system has to be weak enough not to kill the worms from the get go, both male and female worms have to be present etc. Because a dog tests positive for heartworm does not mean the pup has a life threatening case. Example — if only female worms are present the dog will test positive but the worms can not multiply and will die of old age without consequence.

    Regarding treatment — if detection happens before a full blown infestation (which takes time), an antibiotic can be given to kill the wolbachia bacteria that makes heartworm infections so dangerous. Once wolbachia are dead the remaining worms become steralized and can not reproduce. They will eventually die or can be killed off by heartguard. I haven’t seen studies yet but I’d bet money that garlic kills wolbachia (it is known to kill antibiotic resistant MRSA, giardia, coccidia and other roundworms (which heartworm is a roundworm)).

    I’m not suggesting that you don’t give heartworm, I am suggesting that we should intimately know our enemies. We may find that they are not as dangerous as our vets etc would have us believe.. 🙂

    #11301 Report Abuse
    Hound Dog Mom

    From Pattyvaughn:

    “My posts are disappearing on the forum right now and there is a poster there, Weimlove, that lives in Florida that is asking questions involving heartworm prevention and flea prevention that I would love if someone would relay info to. She is planning on going with Heartguard and there are a few dogs every year that turn up heartworm positive at the proper dose in Florida. Heartguard is losing its effectiveness, so she should discuss that with her vet too.”

    #11304 Report Abuse

    Patty, thanks so much for your concern. What do you recommend?

    #11306 Report Abuse

    Hi Weimlove,
    I don’t have a huge Heartworm threat up here but, to be on the safe side I did some reading up on it & non toxics approaches. Dr. Wil Falconer, a holistic DVM, wrote a book on natural Heartworm prevention. His website is here: http://vitalanimal.com/immune-path/.

    Another sight that might be helpful is this one, it gives 6 homeopathic methods and it encourages the same kind of program that Shawna mentioned. http://www.danebytes.com/heartworm-cures.htm

    The bottom line is a healthy animal defends its self against Heartworm, and other parasitic attacks. Meds are insecticides… Poisons. If you use Heartworm “Meds”, you are also making your pet sick. Parasites are stronger than mammals. They’re harder to kill. In order to kill, or poison the parasite the dose of poison has to be pretty high. Keeping your pet optimally healthy, and using non-toxic repellents on your pet for the insect vector (Mosquitos) is a much better foundation. Like Shawna, I strongly believe that garlic can kill the wolbachia. But check out some of the homeopathic site’s cures. 😉

    #11308 Report Abuse

    Here’s another vet’s take.. He practiced & lived in Santa Cruz, where there was a prevalence,

    This parasite is a source of great anxiety among dog caretakers. (I don’t believe that one “owns” a dog.) Thanks in large part to the scare tactics of many veterinarians in promoting preventive drugs, many people believe that contracting heartworms is the equivalent of a death sentence for their dogs. This is not true.
    I practiced for seven years in the Santa Cruz, California area, and treated many dogs with heartworms. The only dogs that developed symptoms of heart failure were those that were being vaccinated yearly, eating commercial dog food, and getting suppressive drug treatment for other symptoms, such as skin problems. My treatment, at that time, consisted of switching to a natural (that is, homemade) diet, stopping drug treatment whenever possible, and eliminating any chemical exposure, such as flea and tick poisons. I would usually prescribe hawthorn tincture as well. None of these dogs ever developed any symptoms of heart failure.
    I concluded from this that it was not the heartworms that caused disease, but the other factors that damaged the dogs’ health to the point that they could no longer compensate for an otherwise tolerable parasite load. It is not really that different from the common intestinal roundworms, in that most dogs do not show any symptoms. Only a dog whose health is compromised is unable to tolerate a few worms. Furthermore, a truly healthy dog would not be susceptible to either type of worm in the first place.

    It seems to me that the real problem is that allopathic attitudes have instilled in many of us a fear of disease, fear of pathogens and parasites, fear of rabies, as if these are evil and malicious entities just waiting to lay waste to a naive and unprotected public.

    Disease is not caused by viruses or by bacteria or by heartworm-bearing mosquitoes. Disease comes from within, and one aspect of disease can be the susceptibility to various pathogens. So the best thing to do is to address those susceptibilities on the deepest possible level, so that the pathogens will no longer be a threat. Most importantly, don’t buy into the fear.

    That having been said, there are practical considerations of risk versus benefit in considering heartworm prevention. The risk of a dog contracting heartworms is directly related to geographic location. In heavily infested areas the risk is higher, and the prospect of using a preventive drug more justifiable. Whatever you choose to do, a yearly blood test for heartworm microfilaria is important.

    There are basically three choices with regard to heartworm prevention: drugs, nosodes, or nothing.

    There are currently a variety of heartworm preventive drugs, most of which are given monthly. I don’t like any of them due to their toxicity, the frequency of side effects, and their tendency to antidote homeopathic remedies. Incidentally, the once-a-month preventives should be given only every 6 weeks.

    The next option is the heartworm nosode. It has the advantage of at least not being a toxic drug. It has been in use it for over 10 years now, and I am reasonably confident that it is effective. It is certainly very safe. The biggest problem with the nosode is integrating it with homeopathic treatment. But at least it’s less of a problem than with the drugs.

    The last option, and in my opinion the best, is to do nothing. That is to say, do nothing to specifically prevent heartworm, but rather to minimize the chances of infestation by helping your dog to be healthier, and thereby less susceptible. This means avoiding those things that are detrimental to health, feeding a high quality homemade diet, regular exercise, a healthy emotional environment, and, most of all, constitutional homeopathic treatment. Of course, this will not guarantee that your dog will not get heartworms, but, under these conditions, even the worst-case scenario isn’t so terrible. If your dog were to get heartworms, s/he shouldn’t develop any symptoms as a result.

    For what it’s worth, I never gave my dog any type of heartworm preventive, even when we lived in the Santa Cruz area where heartworms were very prevalent. I tested him yearly, and he never had a problem.” Dr. Jeffery Levy DVM PCH http://www.homeovet.net/content/lifestyle/section4.html

    #11309 Report Abuse

    I grew up in LA and they didn’t do heartworm prevention there, then(1970s). But when we knew we were moving to FL starting prevention was the one thing our vet insisted on before the move, which tells me FL has a much higher prevalance.

    #11330 Report Abuse

    Toxed, thanks for all of your information! Do you know if regular vets can give nosodes? That seems like the best option for me. Our golden retriever (who is in heaven now) contracted heartworms about five years ago. The treatment for them were awful. Thankfully, she came through. Since I live in FL, and their are always mosquitos I definintly want to use some kind of prevention. I will definintly ask my vet if she does them.

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