Precious pets.org and Dr. Becker with Mercola.com share similar information about heartworm prevention. I place my focus along with their information on this page.
Usually in the North American area, April is the time when veterinarians begin to check our pets for heartworm they may have contracted from the previous season.
Mostly the chemicals recommended are a daily or monthly pill. These chemicals are an actual treatment and not a prevention to getting heartworm. The pet actually has to be infected before the chemicals in the heartworm pill takes effect. It really is not preventative.
Both references agree as do I that by placing our pets on a chemical insecticide which can cause toxic side effects is not desirable. Side effects include vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, and weakness. The routine insecticide also weakens the immune system which acknowledges the chemicals are poison.
The body works hard to eliminate the toxins and the liver and kidneys are over-worked. Because of the weakened immune system, the pet’s body is not able to take care of attacking bacteria or viruses and our pets get sick more easily.
Some veterinarians have come to recognize that there are natural, safe, and effective alternatives. There is information that long term use of the chemical insecticides for heartworm could be a link to other health conditions. These include arthritis, liver and kidney diseases, skin allergies, and many types of degenerative problems.
What Is Heartworm and What Causes It?
(Dirofilaria immitis) Heartworm is a parasitic worm or larvae which infects mostly dogs, but cats may also get heartworm.
a. An infected female mosquito of a specific species.
b. Must be a species that feeds on mammals (not all do).
c. The mosquito must have bitten an animal infected at a specific stage of development. There are 6 stages of larvae development. When the larvae are at stage 3 inside the mosquito the larvae are about 2 weeks old. If the pet is bitten it takes 3-4 months with the right conditions for the larvae or parasitic worm to reach the stage 4 & 5.
If the pet’s immune system has not destroyed the larvae they could travel to the lungs and heart of the pet. Male parasites grow to 6 inches and females grow to 11 to 12 inches and this is stage 6.
Dr. Becker states the following from a report entitled “Washington State University heartworm report from 2006.”
“Full development of the larvae requires the equivalent of a steady 24-hour daily temperature in excess of 64 degrees F (18 degrees C) for approximately one month.”
Also humidity and standing water are needed for mosquitoes to survive. Mosquitoes are rare in dry climates.
According to both of the resources I used, they state only a few areas such as south Texas, south Florida, and some areas along the Gulf coast may need a longer heartworm prevention schedule such as 9-12 months.
The rest of the U.S. has a range from 3 to 7 months of exposure risk. Most of the states are at 6 months or less.
A safe recommendation offered is for you to talk with a holistic or integrative veterinarian about your specific area or region where you live.
Dr Becker states, if you don’t have a holistic vet and don’t know of one, you can find a directory at www.ahvma.org. She also states that many holistic vets do phone consultations, if you don’t have one in your area.
Here are the links for ahvma.org and precious pets.org:
Recommendations For Heartworm Prevention
Both of my resources agree upon the following to keeping your pet’s body systems strong to ward off uninvited guests.
l. A balanced and appropriate diet and an exercise routine. If your pet is healthy, the immune system is strong and can fight off parasites.
2. Frequent or unnecessary vaccinations. This can overload the pet’s system with toxins. Repeated courses of antibiotics or steroids also weaken the immune system.
3. Control mosquito populations. Keep your pet away from standing water. Use a safe effective bug spray. Mosquitoes are around more at dawn and dusk.
Dr. Becker's Advice:
l. The natural route with alternative and/or homeopathic treatments and/or herbal supplements--use under the guidance of an alternative or holistic veterinarian. “ Have a heartworm test every 3-4 months. Checking more frequently is critical as all natural heartworm prevention doesn’t guarantee your pet will never contract heartworm disease.”
2. If you go with the chemical prevention--do the lowest effective dose at 6 weeks rather than 4 week intervals. Go with the shortest time necessary during mosquito season.
3. Don’t use all-in-one products that prevent against every known intestinal parasite. Using the heartworm ‘plus’ products, which unnecessarily deworms for parasites your pet doesn’t have are more drugs your pet doesn’t need.
4. Use a natural liver detox agent like milk thistle as a follow-up treatment. Dr. Becker also advises to not overload your pet’s system by giving chemical flea and tick preventatives the same week.
5. Calculate the month you need to begin and end based upon the area of risk you live in.
Dr. Karen Becker's website
Precious Pets.org Information:
l. Artemisia--this product combines elecampane root with 2 species of Artemisia, mugwort and wormwood, to provide this herbal formula for antiparasitic qualities. This also contains clove flower buds and garlic bulb.
2. Black Walnut--is rich in tannin, a toning substance. This has cleansing properties and has been used to treat worms.
3. HSII--designed to support the circulatory system. It contains hawthorn berries, capsicum and garlic. The hawthorn strengthens the heart, feeds the adrenals, & cleanses the arteries. Capsicum boosts circulation and cleanses the body. Garlic is used to benefit the digestive, circulatory, and immune system.
BEFORE YOU DECIDE HOW AND WHAT YOU WANT TO DO TO PROTECT YOUR PET, CONSULT WITH YOUR VETERINARIAN AND DO RESEARCH ABOUT WHERE YOU LIVE TO KNOW WHAT THE RISKS ARE FOR YOU PET.
What Do I Do For My Two Dogs?
l. I give garlic to them. I place a small amount on their food. From what I have read fleas and ticks and possibly even mosquitoes find garlic offensive. The garlic odor comes through their skin.
2. I use the natural flea and tick repellant called “Natural Flea and Tick Defense” from Mercola.com.
3. I give the chemical heartworm tablet on a 6 week interval. I give it from May to Nov. This is an appropriate time line for the area in which I live.
4. I have my dogs tested for heartworm every year.
I hope this has been helpful and useful information and thank you for visiting.