Back to nature: the truth about heartworms

Back to nature: the truth about heartworms
Heartworm incidence in the US

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Heartworm season is upon us. According to the Heartworm Society, heartworms are prevalent in all fifty states. "Despite improved diagnostic methods, effective preventives and increasing awareness among veterinary professionals and pet owners, cases of heartworm infection continue to appear in pets around the world."

Back to nature: the truth about heartworms
Heartworm prevention

The heartworm is introduced into by the female adult heartworm who release their young into the host's bloodstream. "During the next 10 to 14 days, the microfilariae mature to the infective larval stage within the mosquito. After that, the mosquito bites another dog, cat or other susceptible animal, and the infective larvae enter through the bite wound. It then takes a little over 6 months for the infective larvae to mature into adult worms. In dogs, the worms may live for up to 7 years. Microfilariae cannot mature into adult heartworms without first passing through a mosquito."

These are the basic facts which fearful pet owners attempt to treat conventionally with preventative. In cases of infestation, the pet is dosed for several months with Ivermectin based products to kill the microfilariae. To address the adult heartworms, an extremely painful three dose of melarsomine dihydrochloride is induced by the vet.

"The patient receives an intramuscular injection deep in the lower back muscles as shown above. This is a painful injection with a painful substance, and it is common for the patient to be quite sore afterwards at home. Pain medication may be needed. Be careful of the injection site as it may hurt enough to cause a dog to bite. An abscess may form at the site, which would require use of warm compresses. Approximately 30% of dogs experience some sort of reaction at the injection site that resolves in 1 to 4 weeks. Some dogs develop a permanent firm lump at the site of injection."

Veterinary Partner further warns, "after treatment, the patient must be strictly confined for one month following the final treatment. No walks, no running around. The dog must live the indoor life. The reason for this is that embolism to some degree is, to some degree, inevitable and it is important to minimize embolism-related problems. Exercise increases heart rate and oxygen demand and we need the heart to rest during this recovery period."

The dangers of this treatment are quite extreme with warnings to watch for coughing, fever and nosebleeds.

When a shortage occurred in 2009, "Merial published an open letter to veterinarians, announcing a shortage of Immiticide (melarsomine dihydrochloride), the only drug licensed for use in treating heartworm infestations in dogs."

Although alarming at first, this shortage made opportunity for discovery of safer alternatives to the painful, toxic and dangerous conventional method. With many heartworm positive shelter animals, rescuers stumbled upon an old tried and true herbal method. Popularly called Bandit's Heartworm Cure, the full study is linked to the Reunion Rescue Nutrition Page.

Holistic herbal treatment uses the herbs wormwood and mugwort, black walnut and Co-Q10 as a basis to safely rid the body of nasty and sometimes fatal heartworm.

What many pet owners and rescuers didn't know is a healthy immune system does not attract parasites in the first place. Dr. Kim Bloomer, V.N.D. reports, "the incidence of parasite problems are very low in raw-fed animals and higher in kibble-fed dogs and cats. Commercial diets actually really affect your pet’s immune system and parasites, pest, bacteria, etc., love a compromised immune system but avoid a healthy immune system."

The Immiticide shortage might prove to have been the best thing to happen for heartworm infested dogs. Encouraging pet owners and caretakers to feed a good raw diet as described on the Reunion Rescue Nutrition Page with an herbal parasite preventative is a much needed nudge to a healthy future. Besides treating heartworm safely and painlessly, the herbal method is also pocketbook friendly as opposed to conventional.

Amazingly, heartworm only made its nasty entrance around 100 years ago….around the same time processed dog food reared its head. Food for thought.

Cindy Marabito of Reunion Rescue writes the American Pit Bull Examiner stories to save lives. Every click on a story donates a small sum to the animals of Reunion Rescue.

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