All about Heartworms and treatment options

Heartworms are contracted from an infected mosquito. It takes up to 2 weeks for the heartworms to infect a dog and 6 months for them to grow into maturity where they can live up to 7 years. Heartworm prevention is safe and necessary.  You must have your dog on prevention out here, there’s just no way around it, but there are affordable ways to do this which I will discuss in this article.

About 75% of the adult dogs that come into the rescue test positive for heartworms.  We use Ivermectin 1%, and we dose it at 1% of each dog’s body weight orally every month using a 1cc oral syringe. Do not use anything other then a 1cc. This prevents the spread of heartworms and, with dogs that are already infected, it prevents the worms from growing and reproducing as they slowly die off.  We also recommend switching to a flea and tick prevention that specifies added protection against mosquitos/heartworms, but it should not be considered prevention for heartworms.

If your dog has heartworms, it’s not the end of the world. It can be easily treated. I might not be the most popular person after you read this article, but I know what I know from firsthand experience.

At first, we followed the popular protocol and started heartworm treatment right away for all dogs. The results were death, paralysis, and many serious temporary health issues.  So now, unless the dog is already dying from heartworms or has an advanced case of it, we do “slow kill”.  I stopped counting after 12 testing negative, with zero side effects or events in one year simply by doing Ivermectin 1% monthly and the 30 days of doxycycline. I have learned from adopters that it’s taking longer for their dogs to test negative because of the pills the vets are giving and I believe it’s because of the dosage. It’s important that the dogs get the correct dosage to their body weight, especially if they have heartworms already.

I am not a fan of the wide weight ranges specified by the heartworm prevention manufacturers. For example, here is the typical weight ranges they recommend:   For Dogs, 51-100 lbs, for Dogs, 26-50 lbs, for Dogs, up to 25 lbs.  So, I’m guessing that a dog that weighs 45 pounds is not getting enough and a dog that weighs 5 pounds is getting too much. Ivermectin is the active ingredient in nearly everything heartworm prevention.

When they do the heartworm treatment they inject Immiticide into the heart, Immiticide is Melarsomine (melaminylthioarsenate) it’s an arsenic-based anthelmintic.

For a good honest read and studies, here you go!

Tractor supply carries Ivermectin and generic brands also work. For my dogs, it’s been a more affordable, effective and safe solution for heartworms. As for me, I will do “slow kill”.  Fast kill is a last resort.

So like anything; You can overdose on ivermectin, which can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hypotension (low blood pressure), allergic reactions (itching and hives), dizziness, ataxia (problems with balance), seizures, coma, blindness and even death. So if you decide to go this route be sure you are giving the right dose and always talk to your vet.


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