Wednesday, March 31, 2010

An Alternative Heartworm Treatment

My poor little foster, Max, has more problems than any other dog I've seen in a while, but despite his issues, his personality lights up a room. He's confined to a crate right now because he's going through the traditional heartworm treatment consisting of two shots of Immiticide, a month of being kept "quiet," and then another follow up shot to kill the smaller worms. As this is my first time with a heartworm-positive foster (we don't see much heartworm here in Colorado), I decided to educate myself about the disease. The best article I've seen about the tradition treatment is from Houston Sheltie Rescue, but I also received some very interesting information about an alternative heartworm treatment from Sharon, the president of DARE (Dachshund Adoption, Rescue, and Education).

I'm going to share Sharon's information with you here, but please note that that this is only meant to suggest that alternatives exist. We are not veterinarians and this is not professional advice. Before treating any dog with heartworm, you should consult with your veterinarian, as heartworm is a VERY serious disease.

For the first two weeks, Sharon administers Doxycycline. Dogs up to 10 pounds get 1/4 of 100mg tablet twice daily. Dogs up to 20 pounds get 1/2 of 100mg tablet twice daily. Twice daily she also gives .25ml of Wormwood and Black Walnut for dogs up to 20 pounds.

Dogs get a Heartguard pill the day after finishing this regimen. Then, the day after that they start taking three Multizyme capsules and three Zymex II capsules twice daily, one hour before food or two hours after. This is given twice daily for two or three weeks depending on how strongly heartworm positive the dog is. Sharon sometimes pours a little honey over the capsules to make them more appealing for the dogs.

Sharon prefers this treatment because it is less invasive and the pups don't have to be crated and confined. The wormwood and black walnut, and enzymes can be purchased at health food stores.

Sharon tells me her rescue has had very good success with this treatment. The dogs usually test Heartworm negative within six months to a year after completing the treatment, with some testing heartworm negative more quickly. This treatment is very low cost and the pups appear to not have any side effects. Consulting with a vet who is familiar with holistic procedures before trying this treatment is recommended. Traditional vets may look down on it because hey, they need to make a living, too, right?

Take my snide remark with a grain of salt as I've been spending a lot of money at vets lately, and I must admit I'm a little jaded. I'm very interested to try Sharon's remedy next time I get a heartworm positive dog because Max already went into cardiac arrest once, and I've been afraid to get out of bed in the morning and check his crate ever since. He has so many other things we need to conquer (damaged leg, neurological problems, cherry eye, neutering) that this treatment has really put a damper on getting him adopted any time soon. In my opinion, this alternative is definitely worth a discussion with a holistic vet.

For more information on Max or to read about my adventures in fostering, check out the Bill Blog!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

DARE to help Dachshunds

Kathy Zimmerman is an artist and animal advocate. I caught up with here recently to find out about her work with Dachshund Adoption, Rescue, and Education (DARE):

HTB: Kathy, how did you get involved with Dachshund rescue?

KZ: We had to have our 18-year-old Doxie, Smedlie, put to sleep. It was the hardest thing in my life to do, I wouldn’t let my husband go with me because I was afraid he would try and talk me out of it. She was having multiple organ failure and it was so hard to see her like that. Anyway, I went two long weeks before I thought about getting another dog. Just so happens Gulfport Rescue was having it’s rescue event, but my husband and I were out of town delivering furniture (my business is Snook Z Graphics, and I specialize in handpainted glassware, bisque, and furniture).

My girlfriend, Donna, and her husband, Gary, went to the event, so I asked her to be on the lookout for another Doxie. My husband is allergic to some dogs (takes allergy shots), but Doxies and Poodles are easier to tolerate. They saw Zoe (“Tia” at the time), shivering and in the arms of Kurt Smith, husband of Sharon Smith (the secretary now president of DARE). Donna texted me a picture, and of course, I immediately said, “That’s not a Doxie!” (Zoe is a Doxie/Chihuahua mix). I took the info and went on the DARE website Sunday night. I filled out the application, put down my references, and waited.

On Wednesday I met Sharon at the vet with three dogs. She handed me Tia’s leash and when that funny little dog looked up at me, I just knew she was the one! (Also knew we HAD to have a name change, so Zoe was it.) Sharon followed me home, did the house inspection, and the rest is history. That was three years ago this February. That night, I had a fancy dog bed for Zoe next to ours. We were ready to turn out the lights, but she whimpered and wanted to sleep with us. So she did that night and has every night since.

HTB: What have been the most rewarding things about being involved with rescue?

KZ: How much love and appreciation these dogs have for their “new families”! It’s truly unconditional.

HTB: What would you recommend to other people who might want to rescue a dog?

KZ: Go to the rescues! Those puppies need another chance, they have so much to give. Just like I knew when I met Zoe and knew she was the “one,” you’ll know when you find that perfect match.

HTB: I understand you illustrated the DARE cookbook. Tell us about that project and where people could pick up a cookbook if they'd like one.

KZ: I offered my services and was honored to illustrate their cookbook. Go to for info. Great recipes, great price and all for a great cause! I also illustrated their “Doxapalooza” poster art and tshirts. It’s a cause I believe in.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Getting Through Grief

Tricia Smith, known for "Thursday Night Suppers" in honor of her deceased Boston Terrier, Molly, has started a new blog to help people overcome pet loss grief. It's called "Farewell Furry Friend." I caught up with her this week to find out more:

HTB: Tricia, I know the loss of your Boston Terrier, Molly, hit your family very hard. What are three things that have helped you cope with the grief?

Tricia: This is something that owners who have just lost a pet aren't going to want to hear, but what has helped me the most is just the passage of time. It's been almost nine months since Molly died. I still miss her, and I still feel sad, but the difference is my feelings aren't as intense as they were right after her death. Because the intensity has diminished I have better control over my emotions.

The second thing that helped me deal with my grief was talking to our veterinarian and getting assurances from him that Mike (husband) and I didn't do anything to cause Molly's death and that we did everything we could, within reason, to try and save her. Don't underestimate the importance of your veterinarian during this time. He or she really is a valuable resource to help you come to terms with your grief.

Finally, I found a lot of peace from an interview I conducted with a pet bereavement counselor in Omaha. During our interview I asked her to describe the stages of grief. It was during her description of guilt that she said something I had never considered. She told me one of the ideas that her clients found helpful was reminding them that it was part of their job to handle end of life issues with love, dignity and respect. That it is part of the responsibility of pet ownership to do for our pets what they cannot do for themselves, often at the end of their lives.

HTB: What do you expect to accomplish with your new blog, "Farewell Furry Friend?"

Tricia: I hope "Farewell Furry Friend" will help grieving pet owners find a little comfort from their pain and realize they are not alone and that their emotions are valid. It is also important to me that my blog encompasses the wide range of issues pet owners face after losing their pet: getting another dog, pet adoption, canine medical conditions, introducing a new dog into the family, etc.

HTB: I noticed you are considering adopting a dog now. How long has it been since you lost Molly, and what would you advise people to consider before adopted a new dog after losing a beloved pet?

Tricia: As I mentioned above, it's been almost nine months since Molly died. I think the absolute most important thing to do before adopting another dog is to make sure you have fully grieved the lost of your dog. If you don't, you won't be able to handle the stress that comes with adding a new dog to your life, and you will consistently compare your new dog with the dog you've lost. You won't be able to love your new dog for the individual creature he or she is.

Also, I would tell people to listen to their inner voice. If a situation seems odd or too good to be true, it probably is. Let me give you an example: A couple of months after Molly died, Mike came across an ad for two French Bulldogs. The problem? The woman was only asking $300 - for both. $300 for one is a steal; $300 for both, well, there's got to be a catch. But being big fans of the Frenchie, Mike called the woman and set up a time to meet her at her house - in Springfield, MO, 3 1/2 hours from our home in Overland Park!

Let me tell you something about grief-it can and it will make you crazy. Merriam-Webster's online dictionary defines grief as a deep and poignant distress caused by or as if by bereavement. It also defines crazy as being out of the ordinary. Because of our deep and poignant distress, Mike and I were acting out of the ordinary. We were, for all intents and purposes, crazy, because let’s be honest, only crazy people would drive 3 1/2 hours in a severe rainstorm for a "too good to be true" deal. When we finally arrived at the woman's house, things went from fine to "there's something definitely wrong with this situation." The French Bulldog siblings were adorable. They looked healthy and happy. It was the woman who made us feel uneasy about the whole situation. We caught her in a couple of lies, she didn't have any papers for the dogs nor did she have any medical records, and she refused to give us the names, yes names, of her veterinarians, so that we could have their medical records faxed to our vet. Mike and I thanked her for her time and left without the Bulldogs.

Please, please listen to your inner voice, do your research and take your time.

HTB: What resources would you recommend for people who are grieving pet loss? Are there websites, support groups, books, etc. that might help?

Sometimes the best resources are right in front of you. As I mentioned before, your veterinarian can be a great asset. He or she can help clear up any questions you may have about your pet's death. Look to family members and friends who loved your pet. My mom has been invaluable to me. She always says how much she misses Molly and has the best Molly stories. I would also suggest contacting your local Humane Society to see if they hold a support group for pet owners who have lost a pet.

Below are a few websites that I found helpful in dealing with my grief. Veterinary Medicine Loss and Grief

-Provides links to many different categories dealing with pet loss: support hotlines, pet hospice, euthanasia, dealing with guilt - just to name a few.

Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement

-The APLB is a nonprofit association that offers the services of volunteers who are professionally trained pet bereavement counselors. There is no cost for the APLB's services and membership is not required.

Pet Loss Support Page

-Provides links to other helpful websites and hotlines, tips on coping with pet loss and a guide to support groups and counselors.