Canine Heartworm Disease
Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease caused by worms called Dirofilaria immitus. These worms are “spaghetti-like”, grow up to 12″ long, and reside in the heart. The Larval Form of this worm is transmitted by the bite of a mosquito. Dogs and cats of all ages and breeds are susceptible.
The worms live in the right side of the heart and generally cause severe heart and lung damage before any signs of disease become apparent. Dogs can have up to 100 worms living in their heart for up to 7 years.
* Coughing (especially after exercise)
* Difficulty Breathing
* Weight Loss
Dogs also lose energy. For example, if your dog used to jog with you a mile each day, now he may only be able to make it for 1 or 2 blocks then he might begin coughing and/or even faint.
Transmission of the heartworm occurs only through the bite of a mosquito. Immature “Larvae” forms of the worm (called “Microfilaria”) float in the blood of infected animals and are picked up when the mosquito bites them. Then the mosquito transmits the heartworm to all of the other animals it bites.
Outdoor dogs are most susceptible but mosquito’s slip through cracks and screen doors with ease therefore, all dogs and cats are at risk. Those living indoors and out. Treatment is risky and extensive, occasionally even fatal. Prevention eliminates the need for a cure.
Newer heartworm preventative medications also protect pets from fleas, ticks, and intestinal worms (hookworms, whipworms, and roundworms). Most of these products are given monthly as tablets (i.e., Program, Sentinel) or as liquids, which are applied topically to the skin between the shoulder blades (i.e., Advantage, Frontline, Revolution). Before giving any preventative medications, pets should be blood tested to be sure they are not infected. Your vet can help you decide which product is best for your pet.
HEARTWORM LIFE CYCLE
Transmission of the heartworm only occurs through the bite of a mosquito. The heartworm life cycle takes 6 months at which point adult male and female heartworms reproduce in the heart and lay living young called “microfilarie.” The
microfilarie float out into the blood stream and wait for the next mosquito. The mosquito picks up this immature heartworm (the microfilarie) when it bites the dog. Once inside the mosquito, the microfilarie develop into the infective “larvae” form over the next several weeks. When a mosquito with the “larvae” form feeds on an uninfected dog, it deposits these larvae into the dog’s bloodstream. The larvae spend the next 6 months migrating in the dog’s blood stream until they reach the heart where they mature into adults and produce more microfilarie.
HERBAL REMEDIES FOR INTESTINAL WORMS
Remedy #1: Crush one clove of garlic and mix with seven minced pumpkin seeds, one sprig of thyme and some honey. Roll into balls and give all at once. Useful for intestinal worms.
Remedy #2: Sprinkle a quarter to one teaspoonful of ground pumpkin seeds over food for tapeworms.
Remedy #3: Black walnut is advocated by some for heartworms, but I do not recommend this.
Cina 3x (wormseed) taken three times daily for at least 21 days helps clear roundworms. Filix mas 3x (male fern) is used to eliminate tapeworms and is also given three times daily for 21 days.