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Here's a check list of questions you should be asking your vet
This section - Part 2 -
If you haven't read
Part 2 is designed to give you options to the fear-based recommendations commonly used by large dug companies with huge marketing budgets to push year round heartworm protection. Here we suggest ways, if you want them, to limit or eliminate heartworm drugs.
Part 1of this article has already determined that heartworm transmission is dependent on the following three factors being present:
As expected, the dark areas of the map above, show that the most heartworm cases per clinic, are found in the hot, humid South-Eastern US, especially the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and the Mississippi Delta.
Please don’t let the map scare you. If published seasonally, map colors would pale significantly during cool months. Also remember that you’re seeing generalities, not specifics. A clinic near a rural pond will likely have many cases while an urban clinic 15 miles away may have a much lower incidence. Maps are general. Determine your own microclimate.
Heartworm researchers Drs. David Knight and James Lok in “Seasonality of Heartworm Infections and Implications for Chemoprophylaxis” show only two areas in the US requiring year round heartworm medications, e.g. the southernmost areas of Florida and Texas. Houston, New Orleans and similar areas are shown requiring medications for nine months only.
Other states range from three to seven months. Drs. Knight and Lok wrote: “For nearly 80% of the states, the potential for heartworm transmission is limited to six months or less.”
I am a researcher and holistic health advocate for pets, not a vet. However, with your dog's best interest at heart I suggest if you are contemplating using heartworm medication, that you do your own extensive research first, and take into consideration the following factors:
Expect an open-mind and respect from your vet, or find another vet.
The answer is definitely no. Giving your dog heartworm medication when climatic conditions prevent transmission is not only pointless, but dangerous for your dog. Why would anyone want to give their beloved pet toxic chemicals when there is absolutely no valid reason to do so?
Only a small percentage of climatic areas in the US meet the correct weather conditions and temperatures for year-round transmission and infection.
Residents in other parts of the country are unnecessarily subsidising drug companies and “preventatives” sellers and, more importantly, exposing their dogs to unnecessary risks to ingesting toxic chemicals.
We have all seen all those scary photos of worm-strangled hearts, in magazines and on TV. Isn't safe better than sorry? But is that harmless little pill or yummie medical “chewie" really safe? No drug is completely free of risk and adverse reactions.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, 65% of adverse drug reactions and 48% of all reported deaths resulting from drug reactions are caused by heartworm preventatives.
This point is further reinforced in page 17 of The Whole Story About Heartworm PDF, (much of which you may not be told otherwise). These notes were researched and written by Lee Cullens in March 2008
In Memory of Daisy 1997 - 2007
If you have a spare hour or so, Lee Cullens tells it how it is with regard to big business and heartworm medications, its a great read of 61 pages, written by a great lady.
Before giving your pet any medication always check it out with the FDA first for any adverse comments, and make sure you read any and all information supplied by the manufacturer. The following adverse reactions have been reported to the FDA by heartworm drug manufacturers:
Heartguard and TriHeartPlus (ivermectin) depression, lethargy, vomiting, anorexia, diarrhea, mydriasis, ataxia staggering, convulsions and hypersalivation.Interceptor (milbemycin oxime) depression, lethargy, vomiting, anorexia, diarrhea, mydriasis, ataxia staggering, convulsions and hypersalivation and weakness. Sentinel (milbemycin oxime) vomiting, depression, lethargy, pruritus, urticaria, diarrhea, anorexia, skin congestion, ataxia, convulsions, hypersalivation and weakness.
Revolution (selamectin) (topical spot-on parasiticide for dogs and cats) vomiting, loose stools or diarrhea with or without blood, anorexia, lethargy, salivation, tachypnea, and muscle tremors. Post-approval experience included the above plus pruritis, urticaria, erythema, ataxia, fever, and rare reports of seizures and death in dogs.
Proheart 6 severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis), facial swelling, itching, difficulty breathing, collapse; lethargy (sluggishness); not eating or losing interest in food; any change in activity level; seizures; vomiting and/or diarrhea (with and without blood); weight loss; pale gums, increased thirst or urination, weakness, bleeding, bruising; rare instances of death. This product was voluntarily withdrawn from the market in 2004 because of deaths but has been reintroduced.
For your convenience we have prepared a list of all potential side effects and symptoms you can expect to see with chemical heartworm medications, depending on which brand you have chosen to use for your pet:
One clue to the possibility of adverse reactions should be the warnings on the labeling, for instance:
Just ask yourself - if this medication is so dangerous for you and your children, how can it be so good for your dog?
The “Heartworm Prevention” page of the American Animal Hospital Association states: “Healthy kidneys and normal liver functions are essential in metabolising most medications". Many dogs (including my darling Poppie who recently passed away), do not have healthy organ function, yet in my ignorance as in the case of Lee Cullens I was unwittingly giving her heartworm protection medication prescribed by our vet!
That was until I discovered the benefits of using the Only Natural Flea Tags. I wonder how many other unsuspecting owners out there are giving their senior or sick pets heartworm medications in ignorance?
According to WSU's College of Veterinary Medicine, approximately three of every four Collies in the United States have the mutant MDR1 gene. The frequency is about the same in France and Australia, so it is likely that most Collies worldwide have the mutation.
The MDR1 mutation has also been found in Shetland Sheep dogs (Shelties). Australian Shepherds, Old English Sheep dogs, English Shepherds, German Shepherds, Long-haired Whippets, Silken Wind hounds, and a variety of mixed breed dogs.
The only way to know if an individual dog has the mutant MDR1 gene is to have the dog tested. As more dogs are tested, more breeds will probably be added to the list of affected breeds.
Call your vet immediately if you suspect your dog has an adverse reaction to heartworm medication. Discuss alternatives and treatment and make sure the reaction is recorded in your dog’s file.
The FDA requires that manufacturers of FDA-approved drugs must forward adverse event reports to the agency. However under-reporting is rife amongst manufacturers and the FDA estimates 99% of adverse reactions go unreported. Click here for FDA reporting instructions.
The best prevention from heartworm infection for your four-legged friend is to keep its immune system in tip top condition with a healthy lifestyle, plus the elimination of:
When considering heartworm protection for your dog the most important thing is, do not make decisions out of fear. Don't let anyone, even your vet, intimidate or ridicule you. Be an educated consumer and a rabid advocate for your dog's health.
This article and information forms part of the Carole's Doggie World Library and is presented for informational purposes only and not intended as an endorsement of any product. The information is not intended to be a substitute for visits to your local veterinarian. Instead, the content offers the reader information researched and written by Carole Curtis for www.carolesdoggieworld.com
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I have used Rescue Remedy (shown below) for the past 24 years (actually, lets be specific - I have used it for my darling doggie Poppie and her predecessors) and found it absolutely marvelous! If you need to calm your pet down at any time, give it a go, you won't regret it (Poppie usually uses it before her bath time). Each bottle lasts her for ages!
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