Germs and worms and the Boogeyman

Last year a neighbor’s Chihuahua tested positive for heartworm (“HW”) and was treated conventionally. He survived the treatment. A few weeks ago, the same neighbor’s hound dog tested positive and was treated conventionally, but didn’t survive. The neighbor was very upset about loosing him. When I saw her this weekend, I told her that there were gentler methods of treating HW and should it happen again, to let me know and I’d point her in the right direction. She recently had their last dog, a Shepherd/Collie mix tested and she’s positive. She’s going in next week for conventional treatment.

Conventional treatment for heartworm is very, very expensive (close to $1,000), time consuming and hard on the dog. The Collie/Shepherd mix is a pretty high-strung dog and keeping her confined after the treatment is going to be difficult. I wish my neighbor would have at least considered alternative methods, but that isn’t going to happen.

I do not give monthly heartworm poison (Heartworm medicine is not a preventative, it is a poison. It works by killing larvae (not the adults worms) in an infected dog.) to my dogs. My landlady was quite appalled by this. Mosquitoes and HW have been around for a long time. Healthy animals will have a natural resistance to HW. If not, then wild canines would not survive as a species given that they are not given monthly HW medicine. Should my dogs ever test positive, I’d treat them using either homeopathy or an herbal product or both.

Interestingly, my other neighbor who has numerous outside dogs had all of his tested at the same time and none of them were positive. He’s not giving HW medicine, but that’s due to the cost of the medicine, not alternative thinking. It is not cheap. Many farmers give their dogs monthly shots of the Ivermectin (also used as a livestock wormer) which works on the same principle as HW medication that that veterinarians sell such as Revolution. The problem with this is some breeds of dogs like Australian Shepherds and Collies are sensitive to Ivermectin and can die from taking it.

Here is an interesting article on the life cycle of the type of mosquito who can pass HW larvae from dog to dog.

I think, however, just to keep the peace, I’ll call my landlady and tell her I had a change of heart and have decided to give my dogs monthly poison so they don’t get HW. It’s always better, whenever possible, to play the game.