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Holistic heartworm preventive?


Lucy Goosey
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Guest totallyterry2003

I would hope that no one would be that foolish.

 

Why would you put your dog at a much greater risk than if you use the intercepter?

 

Had a friend who once used the holistic wormer for sheep. She loved it until the sheep started dying. Posted sheep revealed lots of worms. All this in a 4 month time span.

 

I think that there are many people that are leary of vacines and drugs and use them sparingly which is good. However, if you don't use them, you are asking for trouble.

 

Yes, I realize that the rare dog may re-act to the intercepter but many would die from heartworm if it is not used.

 

This is only my opinion.

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Hate to sound like an echo, but.....no.

 

I do feed a raw diet, my dogs get lots of "natural" supplements, and I haven't vaccinated (except rabies) for several years. BUT there just isn't anything I've found that could be called "holistic" that prevents heartworm. There are many things that help prevent mosquitos - all common sense things - but if they happen to get bitten by one with the disease....its just too ugly to consider. The treatment is arsenic! I'd rather chance a once a month pill, take them off the pills for four or five months in winter (which does mean testing again in spring) to give their bodies a chance to "rest," than try anything else.

 

I think its just one of those things....

 

diane

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Well, thanks for the input. Someone from another forum set me up with some great links about heartworm in general, some different holistic approaches to prevention, and references to holistic vets in my area. Here is one that I found to be of particular interest:

 

http://www.bullovedbulldogs.com/heartworm.htm

 

Still doing my homework....if anyone else out there has any helpful information, I'd appreciate it.

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I have a dog that has developed an intolerance to chemical heartwormer; she becomes nauseated and anorexic. It took a long time for us to find the link and when we did WHOOOEE, she is now eating normally and gained to a normal weight for the first time in 6 months.

What my vet has her on now is a homeopathic nosode for heartworm, which, according to her she has had excellent results with when it's coupled with a well balanced raw diet and otherwise good health. In fact some of her clients dogs who came to her HW+ and were placed on the nosode at their owner's request are now normal...even thought they live outside in the South.

My vet did not recommend this as a choice for the average dog, as she is not sure it is 100% reliable yet. Results look very good however.

For the average healthy outside dog she recommend Intraceptor taken every other month. Several of my friend's dog have used this program for 2 years now and remain HW-.

Imo, and my vets, the less chemicals we can use the better.

Wendy

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Thank you, Wendy. I've been reading about the nosodes as well as the black walnut and other stuff. I don't raw feed, but I do have my dogs on Canidae. Did your vet say anything about that, by any chance? I'm still in the decision making process....I may go to a holistic vet, or just go with the Interceptor every 45-50 days. That cuts out two unneccessary doses during the mosquito season.

 

Also, are you using a topical spray of any kind?

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I have not used heartworm preventative in years and in testing 2ce a year have never had a heartworm positive dog. I know many of you will say it is sheer luck...maybe so but there are many people who follow natural practices with wonderfull results. Many vets belive the normal doseages for heartworm are far to strong. My allopathic vet recomends only doseing every 3 mos. Do your research and most importantly what makes you comfortable.Those of us who do not blindly do what one person recomends, should not be labeled as FOOLS...quite the contrary I belive!!!!

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I don't think anyone should be labeled a fool for caring for their dog in the best way possible. For some that might mean using heartworm preventative, for others it may not.

 

I do think there is a certain amount of luck involved, I had a rough collie who I never gave preventative to (at the time we only had Heartguard) and she became positive at the age of 14. I considered myself lucky for 13.5 years.

 

I know that when I made the decision to not put her on preventative I made it based on: our weather, our surroundings, her normal environment, and the prevalence of Heartworm disease in our area.

 

I have admiration for holistic treatments, organic and/or raw diets, but I do draw some lines and heartworm preventative is one of them.

 

I live in an area that has a high percentage of heartworm disease, my dogs love to hike and play with other dogs, they love to swim in the creek, river, and lake, and so I give keep them on heartworm preventative. If I lived in Alaska I probably would not worry about it.

 

Maria

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SAR K9 Lucy:

 

I read your Bulldog reference. I appreciate your posting it, but it certainly raises more questions in my mind than it provides answers.

 

"If your dog is reasonably healthy, eating a SARF diet, is vaccine free, is not currently on any HW ?preventives? or chemical flea and tick preventives, his immune system should be strong enough to fight off a heartworm infestation with none of the larvae reaching adulthood."

 

Nowhere in the article did I find any support whatsoever for this statement. What basis does the writer have for saying it? It is not an observable phenomenon. No research studies were mentioned, and there is no theoretical reason that I can think of why this should be so. Heartworm is a parasite. The stronger and healthier the host, the better for the parasite. What is the mechanism by which the healthy dog "fights off" a heartworm infestation? We are not told.

 

"Note the tremendous increase in heartworm since the introduction of mass vaccinations (figure three)."

 

Gimme a break. Heartworm has also increased since the introduction of the personal computer, the cell phone, and MTV. It has also increased since AKC recognition of the border collie! :eek: The number of service dogs in this country has greatly increased since the introduction of mass vaccinations, as has the number of dogs being titled in agility. So what?

 

There is absolutely no basis for suggesting a connection between increase in heartworm and mass vaccinations, and for the writer to imply such a connection is a red flag to me that s/he has a bias that undermines the credibility of his/her unsupported assertions.

 

The life cycle information about the heartworm nematode is interesting and AFAIK accurate, but I don't see how it adds much to the "oversimplification" that infection occurs from the bite of a mosquito who has bitten an infected dog. The explanation seems designed to suggest that it's almost impossible for a dog to become infected. But we know from clinical experience that that's not true -- that plenty of dogs do become infected. So . . . ?

 

"If the dog is not re-infested with L3 larvae from another bite from another infected mosquito, the adult heartworm will die of old age in about 2 years."

 

An odd statement. Re-infestation does not lengthen the life span of an adult heartworm. Re-infestation just adds more heartworms. And the dog with adult heartworms is a reservoir for his own re-infestation, as well as the infestation of all other dogs within mosquito range of him.

 

Two "respected authors and healers" are quoted. One says "If you decide to try the [homeopathic] nosode, you must understand that its effectiveness is currently unknown." Well, that's honest, anyway. The second says, "Even in untreated dogs, after a period of uncomfortable symptoms, the adult worms die," and then says, "For clients who insist on a more active form of prevention, I suggest doses of black walnut given two to three times a week, as I've actually reversed clinical heartworm with it..." But how does he know the black walnut had anything to do with the "reversal"? How does he know the adult worms didn't just die, as he says they do in "untreated dogs"?

 

I dunno. I'm always sort of dumbfounded that statements such as are made here can be accepted without much question.

 

One thing I know, though. The Bulldog folks say, "We include approximately one to two cloves of garlic per day in everybody's food. Garlic is a natural mosquito repellent; just the aroma will keep them at bay." Living as I do in a mosquito-infested swamp, and enjoying a cuisine rich in garlic, I can testify from personal experience that they're wrong about that.

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Eileen,

Thank you for your comments. Discussions like this are all part of the process.

 

Nowhere in the article did I find any support whatsoever for this statement. What basis does the writer have for saying it? It is not an observable phenomenon. No research studies were mentioned, and there is no theoretical reason that I can think of why this should be so. Heartworm is a parasite. The stronger and healthier the host, the better for the parasite. What is the mechanism by which the healthy dog "fights off" a heartworm infestation? We are not told.
Just want to point out that the body does produce antibodies against parasites. This is one way of testing for heartworm; testing for the presence of the antibodies. So, it doesn't seem too farfetched to me that an animal with a strong immune system could fight off a parasitic infection.....
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?Just want to point out that the body does produce antibodies against parasites. This is one way of testing for heartworm; testing for the presence of the antibodies. So, it doesn't seem too farfetched to me that an animal with a strong immune system could fight off a parasitic infection.....?

 

The American Heartworm Society states:

 

?In experimentally induced infections of heartworms in dogs, the percentage of infective larvae developing to adults is high (40% to 90%). However, the percentage of experimentally infected dogs from which adult worms are recovered is virtually 100%. The number of worms infecting a dog is usually high, as the number of worms in dogs can range from one to approximately 250.?

 

Based upon this I would assume the body is not capable of fighting off this parasitic infection. Another interesting post from VetInfo Digest states how variable the severity of the infection and lifespan with the infection.

 

?The last difficulty in explaining heartworms is the extreme variability in the disease process. We have done an autopsy on an eight month old puppy that we are pretty certain died of heartworm disease since it had about 50 heartworms already present in its heart and pulmonary arteries. We have diagnosed heartworms in a dog at two years of age, had its owner refuse treatment and then seen it live to twelve years of age prior to developing heart failure, which may or may not have been from heartworms. The reason for this discrepancy is based on the number of heartworm present and the dog's individual immune response to those worms. Heartworms do not directly damage the heart or pulmonary arteries. They live in areas of turbulent circulation and this causes some damage to circulating red blood cells. The damage leads the red blood cells to clump in mini-clots. These little clots are very abrasive. They irritate the lining of the blood vessels in the lungs, making them thicken and become less elastic. Eventually this leads to enough occlusion to cause the blood pressure in these arteries to exceed the blood pressure the heart can pump against. Chronic heart failure develops. A lot of worms cause a lot of damage in a hurry. A small number of worms produce damage more slowly but it still occurs over time. A few dogs probably have minor blood clotting disorders which are beneficial to them or other immune deficiencies reducing the reaction to the parasite. All of these factors contribute to an extreme variability in the length of time a dog may live with heartworms and the severity of the disease that affects them.?

 

 

So far I have found no clinical trials using non-chemical preventatives for heartworm; that doesn?t mean there isn?t one, just that there is no data supporting or refuting such treatments. However, there is data clearly stating that if a dog is infected while not on preventative there is a 100% chance adult heartworms will develop (see above).

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I should have been more specific in my statement. Holistic programs center around strengthening the immune system and making the bloodstream an unfriendly place for parasites; I wasn't referring to doing nothing at all. For some people, doing nothing at all is an option that works; they simply minimize exposure to mosquitoes and test for heartworm routinely, and treat for it only if they need to.

 

As far as the study, these were laboratory dogs who were not on a holistic program, who were intentionally infected with heartworm; so how applicable do you think this information is to holistic prevention programs?

 

As far as I know, there aren't any conclusive studies on holistic or homeopathic treatments, because intentionally infecting animals with life threatening illnesses goes against the philosophy of holistic and homeopathic practitioners, so you really have to put a lot of faith into your particluar practitioner's knowledge and experience. Please don't take offense to this statement, but that is why I'm asking this question, to find out if any others have had success with alternative methods, not to debate the validity of them with folks who don't believe in them. I'm not even sure I do; I'm just exploring alternatives with an open mind.

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No offence taken. Clinical studies have always had a slant to them, they are usually paid for by drug companies that desire a certain outcome; however, they are the best tools I know of to test conclusively the efficacy of the tested regimen, especially if the study is properly designed and controlled. I personally, would like to see more of this type of testing (well designed and controlled, double-blinded studies) performed with natural and alternative treatments to measure their efficacy. I believe there are very good treatments in amongst the folklore that should be identified and utilized by medical science; however, without these proper studies these treatments are unlikely to receive widespread acceptance and use.

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