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!


  1. What an adorable pup! I have been looking up information on heartworm treatments since in my anatomy class our "cat" had worms. It made me curious on what could have been done for the poor thing. Thanks so much for your information, it was very helpful!

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