What the average pet owner is not aware of, is just how specific and precise the conditions must be in order for a dog to contract heartworm and how easy it is to avoid issues if a dog becomes infected. Unfortunately, most conventional vets scare the S*%T out of us as they profit from over-vaccinating, prescribing flea, tick, and heartworm pesticides and synthetic and/or highly processed food. The term “preventive” is actually a misnomer when referring to heartworm products. They are actually pesticides (as defined by the EPA) which do not prevent pests – they kill the larvae. After using a “preventive” product that a vet once recommended, one of my dogs had a seizure. It was that event that made me question competence and ethics of the majority of conventional vets. Between these vets and The Heartworm Society, pet owners are shelling out money, receiving poor veterinary care, and putting the health of their dogs into jeopardy as a result. The Heartworm Society is an organization used to “educate” people, but it is chiefly a marketing tool for the pharmaceutical industry which supports the organization. The following pharmaceutical manufacturers sponsor The Heartworm Society so of course it would be a conflict of interest.
The Heartworm and How it is Transferred:
Heartworm is only transferred via mosquitoes. Only a specific species of mosquitoes can infect a dog with heartworm and it must be a female mosquito doing that job. It sounds pretty simple, but it’s not.
The mosquito only becomes infested with heartworm when it bites a mammal which is already infected. Then the mosquito needs to bite Fido in order for the heartworm to be transferred. This sounds very scary but it is even more complicated.
The infected mammal that gets the first bite must be infected with sexually mature adult male and adult female heartworms that have produced offspring (baby heartworms) at the time of the bite. It gets even more specific though.
Those heartworm offspring must be at a specific developmental stage (this stage take a minimum of 2 weeks) at the specific time that the mosquito bites that infected mammal.
Temperature: The weather and the moisture in the air play a critical role. One source indicated that at the time a mosquito is incubating the heartworm larva, the weather must maintain a temperature exceeding 57 degrees throughout the day and night for a minimum of 14 days since the mosquito’s initial bite to incubate within the mosquito. If the temperature dips below 57 degrees, heartworm development stops and the process must begin again.
Time: Let’s say after 2 weeks of carrying the heartworm, the infected mosquito bites a dog. At that point, according to Dr. Dobias (an expert in the subject of heartworm), the temperature must remain above 57 degrees for at least 45 days straight and at least two weeks of temperatures over 80 degrees. If these conditions are not satisfied, the life cycle of the parasite cannot complete. Therefore, your dog is safe.
One of my readers told me she caught a vet in a lie. On his Facebook page, the vet claimed that he treated 2 patients for heartworm in the past week. Hmmm… Now if they were his patients, why did he neglect testing PRIOR to the full-blown infection? Also, the temperature has dipped below 56 degrees so it was impossible. Not only did that vet remove her comment, but he removed his complete story about treating the dogs for heartworm – if he didn’t lie, why would he remove the whole thing??? Furthermore, he blocked her so she could no longer uncover his lies. This vet should be ashamed. Bravo to my reader for being so diligent and for speaking her mind!
Humidity: Humidity is yet another factor. When the stages of development within the mosquito are complete, its saliva will carry the heartworm which can infect a dog only if it is humid enough so that the droplet of mosquito saliva does not evaporate.
If a dog becomes infected with beginning stage of heartworm. It will take around 2 weeks for the heartworm to develop into the next stage while it is living in the skin (not in the bloodstream). The heartworm will continue to live in the skin for the next 3 to 4 months until it reaches the next stage of its development. At that time, the heartworm will migrate into the bloodstream. From the time that the heartworm enters the dog’s body, it will take around 5 to 7 months.
Heartworm Presence: The dog can only become infected in the presence of an adult male and female that have mated and produced offspring. Otherwise, the heartworm will die off and the dog will not become infested and will not get heartworm.
Issues with Heartworm Products
Heartworm products is that dogs are building up resistance. Similar to antibiotics, when repeatedly using the same pesticides on an ongoing basis, they are losing their efficacy. It is a disgrace that many conventional vets prescribe heartworm pesticides to be taken year-round. Either many conventional vets are unaware of the concept of resistance, unaware that these are pesticides, unaware that there are alternatives, or just plain unethical and cashing in. According to a study, “The practice of some veterinarians to continuously prescribe monthly chemoprophylaxis exaggerates the actual risk of heartworm transmission in most parts of the country and unnecessarily increases the cost of protection to their clients.”
Conventional heatworm products contain neurotoxins which kill the heartworm by paralyzing their nervous system. This not only affects the nervous system of the heartworm, but it can certainly have a neuological effect on your dog. Hense, you might find neurological side effects like seizures, stumbling, or trembling. To see records of dogs which have experienced side effects from specific conventional heartworm products, please check out The Risk of Heartworm Drugs and keep in mind that these are only the incidences that were reported. A great number of side effects are not reported.
Dr. Jeff Levy, a vet who practices homeopathy emphasizes that it isn’t heartworms that cause disease, but the other factors (yearly vaccinations, commercial dog food, and general over-medicating for issues including skin problems, ear infections and other health issues) that damages dogs’ health to the point that their immune system cannot deal with such parasites. Dr. Marty Goldstein describes these treatments as “disease-causing toxicity.” Pesticide products are particularly dangerous for dogs with liver and kidney issues as the toxins flow through those organs.
Holistic vets agree that strengthening the immune system, using non-toxic alternatives, an excellent diet and no drugs unless they’re absolutely unavoidable. Most holistic vets recommend testing blood throughout the year using a specific DNA heartworm test to confirm that your dog is free from heartworm. Many other tests used are not as accurate and are therefore useless. Unfortunately, the majority of vets do not know about this test. There are very few labs that offer this test. One lab that I found is called HealthGene Molecular Diagnostic and Research Center. Unfortunately, this test appears to be available in Canada only.
Another option that is likely to be more feasible is the Heartworm Antigen Test. This test can detect heartworm at its earliest stages as well. The heartworm antigen test is extremely sensitive because it measures the antibody titer of the body to the presence of heartworm. However, sometimes this test renders false negatives so be sure that your vet is aware of that. I just like to double check things so I speak up when I think it might be necessary – just to be sure…
These tests allow you catch the disease early when it’s easier to treat using safe holistic methods. Vets who have taken the time to study additional curriculum to earn certification for practicing such methods are capable of providing the safest guidance. Most conventional vets lack that further education so they resort to pharmaceuticals which are usually taxing on the immune system and the kidneys. Keep in mind though, this organization is sponsored by pharmaceutical companies. Many vets are not familiar with the protocol described this article describes as conventional medicine is limited to the instruction that is generously funded by pharmaceutical companies. It takes many years beyond veterinary school to become well-versed in alternative treatment and prevention. I pass information to you which comes from the experts. If dogs are given the appropriate preventive care (diet and natural preventives) and proper testing and provided expert treatment, dogs would not be prone to suffering from the disease.
Although the map below might appear to be frightening, testing the blood a number of times during the year (depending upon the length of the heartworm season) assures you that your dog is safe. Heartworm is dangerous when infected dogs are not tested and treatment is neglected. The diagram below merely shows diagnosis. There is no information about treatment on the map and no indication of fatalities.
To see a 2016 interactive map of prevalence, see Companion Animal Parasite Council.
Dr. Marty Goldstein in The Nature Of Animal Healing says: “Only a small percentage of dogs who get heartworm die of it, especially if they’re routinely tested two to three times yearly for early detection. Even in untreated dogs, after a period of uncomfortable symptoms, the adult worms die…”
Dr. Dobias who has a holistic practice in Canada created the charts below his suggestions of the number of DNA heartworm tests he recommends to eliminate the need for “preventive” drugs completely. However, the maps below illustrate the time and the places where heartworm is prevalent. I use natural preventives so I use those maps as guidelines as to when to begin the non-pesticide supplements. For those who insist on using pesticides, using year-round treatment is adding insult to injury. The maps will help you determine how to avoid excessive toxicity of pesticide treatments.
Here is the beginning of heartworm season:
Here is the end of heartworm season map:
Here is Dr. Dobias’ chart indicating the number of heartworm tests he recommends based upon the duration of heartworm season:
Please keep in mind that the is old, but if you allow the temperature to guide you it will be more accurate.
Dr. Jean Dodds’ (a top expert on veterinary immunology) research established that there is a link between the heartworm products and autoimmune disease. In fact, she has found that these heartworm products can lead to death (even within days of administration). Yearly vaccines and unnecessary medications along with pest preventive treatments cause the immune system to become overwhelmed to the point that the immune system becomes confused. In this confusion, the body misinterprets healthy cells as diseased cells. The body then attacks itself. This is what autoimmune disease is.
If a dog owner insists on giving a dog heartworm products, Dr. Dodds points out that these products can be administered every 45 days instead of every 30 days, but you must strictly follow every 45 days. By administering every 30 days, there is more money to be made through sales while greatly increasing toxicity. She points out many cautions that must be considered along with many suggestions in her article, Dr. Dodds’ Take on and General Recommendations for Heartworm Preventives (Preventatives). For example, dogs with organ diseases should never take these drugs.
An EXCELLENT article to read is Why I Don’t Give My Dogs Heartworm Meds (And Why You Shouldn’t Either). It is a MUST read. Another great article Are Drug Companies Honest About Heartworm? by Dr. Peter Dobias.
How can mosquitoes and heartworm be avoided naturally?
I keep my dogs on a raw diet which is biologically appropriate. My dogs have been vaccinated minimally (only rabies every 3 years as per present legal regulations which will eventually change so we will be able to vaccinate less). Please read my article, Are Vaccines Really Safe? to understand vaccines better and to see how they are abused. The information comes from the foremost leader and authority in the study of vaccines in veterinary medicine.
Dogs on biologically appropriate diets. I typically recommend Barfworld because is excellent in quality and very simple to feed. Their immune systems tend to be far superior to dogs on synthetic and/or lab-created or over-processed (commercial) diets. I also avoid vaccinations (with the exception of rabies which has legal requirements). With minimally vaccinated dogs, their immune systems are healthier and not over-worked or abused so they function properly. Remember that we don’t get our polio and measles annually for a lifetime – there is a reason. If your physician gave you those vaccines annually there would likely be a lawsuit for malpractice on the horizon.
For more advanced raw feeders I recommend Raw Paws. You can read more about their food in my article The BEST Dog Food for the Advanced. In that article, I discuss the Raw Paws diet which requires more work because of preparation. Barfworld comes in the form of patties and nuggets. While some of Raw Paws food is available in the form of patties, the price (pound per pound) is quite higher than the bulk (which takes some time to portion out). Some advanced raw feeders prefer to add their own whole food supplements. The Barfworld diet already contains whole food supplements while Raw Paws doesn’t.
When tick, flea, and mosquito season is approaching I give my girls a natural (non-pesticide) supplement that repels ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes called Internal Powder. Earth Animal is another brand, but I prefer the one made by the Pet Health & Nutrition Center. I add the Internal Powder it to their food. I also use a natural repellent spray that contains herbs. It is called Herbal Defense. The essential oil and herb blend contains rose lemongrass, geranium, peppermint, and raw apple cider vinegar that naturally repel ticks, fleas, and mosquitoes.
Both products are made by the Pet Health & Nutrition Center. I also use the spray for myself. Only Natural Pet HW Protect Herbal Formula is another product that effectively repels mosquitoes. It is taken orally. It is recommended that you use a natural repellent spray along with the oral products to get the best results.
0Bug!Zone is a non-chemical tick and flea tag which also repels mosquitoes. It takes 24 to 48 hours of wear for them to be effective. I have tried a similar tag, but I found no success with it. On the other hand, two friends of mine have been using them for their dogs for years with success. They work by way of bioenergetic frequencies and they must be worn at all times.
Another tag that works, in the same manner, is called the Easy Defense Flea & Tick Tag.
There are also tags that work through sound frequencies to repel ticks and fleas. Supposedly dogs don’t hear the sounds, but I believe they actually do. I am not sure if it gives off any “electrosmog,” but the are safe (definitely safer than using pesticides). think that it is likely that excessive electrosmog is unsafe. I’m not sure what levels are considered safe for dogs.
I recently saw the TV show Shark Tank and took a liking to another product. Wondercide makes several natural products including tick, flea, and mosquito repellent.
Now I will emphasize that I am not a vet. Although my information comes from the most educated experts, I do not diagnose nor do I treat disease, but there are safe and natural heartworm de-worming treatments that a holistic vet would be qualified to prescribe. Great caution must be exercised for dogs with kidney disease, liver disease, or dogs prone to seizures. This is why it is best to consult your holistic vet about using de-wormers. A couple of natural remedies for getting rid of heartworm include Only Natural Pet Para-Gone Herbal Formula and FourGuard Herbal Parasite Formula. Diatomaceous earth is fossilized shells of organisms known as diatoms. The Pet Health & Nutrition Center makes one that is food grade and can be added to a dog’s diet to assist in ridding of worms. To learn more about natural ways to get rid of worms, check out the article Herbal Options for Your Dog’s Worms from Dogs Naturally Magazine. I LOVE that magazine and you can subscribe to Dogs Naturally Magazine.
Vital Animals Don’t Get Heartworms! is an e-book by Dr. William Falconer who is a respected holistic vet. This is an excellent book that educates people about drug-free heartworm prevention and how to stop poisoning your dog in the name of prevention. A great article by Dr. Falconer is Natural Heartworm Prevention. The article contains links to other great articles on his website that I highly recommend.
Another great heartworm guide is published by Dogs Naturally Magazine. You may check out their FREE e-Book.
Karen Becker. “Heartworm Prevention for Pets.” Mercola.com. Healthy Pets Mercola, 28 Aug. 2016. Web. 29 Aug. 2016. Web. <http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2016/08/28/heartworm-disease-dogs.aspx>.
Bollmann, Corinna. “Heartworm – To Guard Or Not to Guard? That Is the Question.” Ezine Articles. 15 May 2009. Web. <http://ezinearticles.com/?Heartworm—To-Guard-Or-Not-to-Guard?-That-is-the-Question&id=2350468>.
Cullens, Lee. THE WHOLE STORY ABOUT HEARTWORM (much of Which You May Not Be Told Otherwise). Woodhaven Labs, Mar. 2008. Web. <http://www.woodhavenlabs.com/documents/heartworm.pdf>.
Dobias, Peter. “Dogs Naturally Magazine.” Dogs Naturally Magazine. 2014. Web. 27 Mar. 2016. <http://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/heartworm-prevention-why-monthly-preventive-drugs-are-unnecessary/>.
Dodds, Jean. “Dr. Dodds’ Take on and General Recommendations for Heartworm Preventives (Preventatives).” Dr. Jean Dodds’ Pet Health Resource Blog. Dr. Jean Dodds, 25 Mar. 2013. Web. 22 Mar. 2016. <http://drjeandoddspethealthresource.tumblr.com/post/46289883129/dodds-heartworm-preventives#.VvGC23pKW4D>.
Goldstein, Martin. The Nature of Animal Healing: The Definitive Holistic Medicine Guide to Caring for Your Dog and Cat. New York: Ballantine, 2000. Print.
Knight, David H., and James B. Lok. “Seasonality of Heartworm Infection and Implications for …” Topics in Companion Animal Medicine. Ed. Matthew W. Miller. Department of Clinical Studies, and the Department of Pathobiology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, May 1988. Web. 22 Mar. 2016. <http://www.companimalmed.com/article/S1096-2867(98)80010-8/abstract>. Volume 13, Issue 2, p77-118
Thomason, Jeannie. “Natural Heartworm Prevention.” The Whole Dog. <http://www.thewholedog.org/heartworm.html>. Web. 22 Mar. 2016.
“Heartworm Disease – Village Center Veterinary Care.” Heartworm Disease – Village Center Veterinary Care. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2016. <http://www.villagecentervet.com/pet-health/dog-health/66-heartworm-disease>.