A reader asks:
I had one of my dogs diagnosed with early infection of heartworms this past Saturday. I would like to know if there is any real chance of eliminating or controlling this disease with natural products and if so which product, or product ingredients would you recommend. I don’t really want to go with the muscular injection method. The dog is a 3 year old mostly pit bulldog, and is very active as I live out in the country; it will be hard to confine her. This is the first time she has shown a positive testing for heartworms. I am going to have her tested by a different doctor as a second opinion today. I have lived out here (west-central Arkansas) for 8 years with 6 dogs , this is a first. I give them all the heartworm prevention pill for 7 months a year, April through October.
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For this question we contacted a qualified professional, Jessica Stout of Animal Advocating.com. Jessica worked for many years as a veterinary technician, and as a veterinary hospital manager, before moving on to her current work rescuing captive wildlife. In addition, Jessica is a firm believer in incorporating alternative therapies and treatments in the treatment of animal injuries, diseases and conditions.
Here is her response:
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I have worked in the animal field for 12 years, with the majority of that having been in the veterinary field as an emergency and critical care veterinary technician. I have seen many heartworm cases and have seen the results of treatment and non-treatment.
I am a big fan of natural options being integrated into veterinary medicine. Integrated, however, being the key word. I think its always best to use a combination of both, and not solely depend on one or the other, because neither are perfect, and you can gain the best of both worlds.
That being said, while heartworm is a serious condition that leads to death if untreated, the good news is that your dog is in early stages. There is no denying that the treatment for heartworm is indeed a very aggressive treatment that requires constant immoblization of the patient so as to prevent emboli that can occur as the heartworms are dying. Further, there can be other side-effects commonly associated with heartworm such as pain at the injection site, and generalized pain in that area for several hours. A good veterinarian will keep the dog sedated and comfortable for this process.
Something to consider with the aggressiveness of this treatment is that if heartworm disease were easily treated through less-aggressive, natural, remedies, than it would not make sense that the only existing, traditional medicine, counterpart would be more aggressive. Unfortunately given this particular type of disease and the severity of it, coupled with the difficulty of where the parasites are located in the body, more aggressive treatment is usually required than with other types of parasites such as tapeworm and roundworm.
My advice to you is to get a second opinion from a veterinarian that practices both traditional, and non-traditional, medicine. The benefit of this is that they are looking at the treatment from both angles, and so can best come up with a treatment plan for your dog that will only be as aggressive as necessary, while allowing your dog the benefit of receiving the best of both worlds.
This question has been answered by Jessica Stout, of Animal Advocating.com. Ms. Stout is not a veterinarian, and the contents of this article are not to be considered veterinary advice or medical advice. If you have a pet with heartworm, or any other condition, you are advised to consult your veterinarian.