NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – A Jack Russell terrier gets better after a vicious attack by a larger dog in its neighborhood. Mercy is a therapy dog for medical patients and now he’s the one in the intensive care unit.
Owner Jenn Williamson held the leash and harness for Mercy outside her house on Kingsbury Road while he was being treated at an emergency veterinary clinic.
“It’s $ 8,000 for his operation alone,” she said.
Williamson’s roommate was walking on a double leash with Mercy and Williamson’s other dog, Cooper, on Friday afternoon. She says they live in a good neighborhood that has never been a problem.
But that day there was a problem down in Kingsway.
“(There were) two gigantic dogs roaming around, unleashed, no leash,” Williamson said.
An elderly woman observed these larger dogs and “suddenly this dog breaks away from the elderly lady and jumps on my little dog, who weighs about 12 pounds. The (bigger) dog had my dog in his mouth and he hit him like a toy. It’s traumatic when you think about it. It was so annoying for me, “said Williamson.
The mercy was bloody and bitten in the hospital.
10 On Your Side called and visited the other family and tried to get an explanation but got no response.
Mercy and Cooper are usually on the other end of the nursing equation because Williamson works in the home healthcare setting and uses them as therapy dogs.
“They are very, very good with my patients, they help them get out of their shell,” she said.
Williamson found out this morning that the other family’s insurance is paying for the medical expenses – and says Norfolk Animal Welfare has told her they’ll be investigating.
She said Mercy was making progress at the Blue Pearl Animal Hospital and was trying to run on his own Tuesday afternoon.
Williamson has one GoFundMe page in case she got stuck with the bill. If the insurance company gets through, the proceeds will go to local animal shelters and help pet owners pay for emergency medical care.
Don’t Risk Your Dog’s Health With Curbside Vet Visits
How do you feel about vet clinics’ COVID rules? If your dog needs vet care, most clinics now make you turn over your dog in the parking lot … along with your credit card.
Do you think this is OK? I don’t!
Dentists can manage to treat us … poking around in our unmasked, germy open mouths. Yet the vet can’t allow you to come into the clinic with your dogs. Not even into the waiting room!
Even when you take your car for service, they call you for permission before they do repairs. Is your living, breathing pet really less important than your lifeless car? It seems like some vets think so!
Vet Clinic COVID Rules
Here’s a pretty typical set of COVID rules from a conventional vet clinic.
- Please remain in your vehicle when you arrive at the hospital and call us. We will check your pet in over the phone.
- A staff member will retrieve your pet from you and bring him/her into the hospital for treatment/care.
- If your pet’s appointment is an examination with one of our veterinarians, your pet’s veterinarian will communicate with you via phone following the examination.
- We will take payment information over the phone and your pet will be returned to you at the conclusion of the appointment.
Don’t you wonder why the vet can’t communicate with you via phone during the exam, instead of afterwards? Just as if you were there in the room during a normal visit.
Instead, this order of things means it’s highly likely your dog could get a treatment you don’t want … because they didn’t ask you while the vet was with your dog. They just went ahead and did what they thought was best … not what you wanted.
Vets Make Mistakes
Even if you’re there, mistakes happen. I’ve had some near-misses myself.
A dog I adopted a few years ago came into rescue positive for Lyme disease. So I asked for a blood draw for re-testing. The vet tech walked into the exam room with a large syringe full of pink fluid. I said, “What’s that?” and she replied, “The Lyme vaccine you ordered.”
I hadn’t ordered any such thing! Why would they even think of vaccinating a dog for a disease he supposedly already had? And how does that kind of mistake happen? Did the vet write the order wrong? Or did the vet tech misread it?
It doesn’t matter. The clinic’s still responsible for mistakes. And giving a dog a potentially harmful and unnecessary vaccination is a bad mistake.
RELATED: Dangerous over-vaccination is on the rise …
Mistakes Are More Likely If You Aren’t There
So when you’re not allowed to supervise your dog’s care … what can happen?
Well there are now countless stories. Many of them are about vet clinics giving unwanted treatments during curbside drop-off appointments.
Sometimes vets or vet techs just ignore the client’s instructions and do what they think the pet needs. Other times, they make real mistakes. With modern electronic client management software, it’s all too easy for someone to click the wrong item.
So there’s a strong likelihood your dog will get a vaccine she didn’t need or conventional treatment you didn’t want. Without your permission!
Holistic vet Dee Blanco DVM wonders if there’ll be more malpractice suits because of weak communication by many clinics. She’s heard many stories of vets vaccinating animals without permission … or even performing expensive, unnecessary surgeries. She explains, “It’s poor medicine … and so far from natural, individualized, humane veterinary care.”
Real Life Vet Clinic Mistakes
Here are some examples of stories from Dogs Naturally readers. These experiences illustrate the risk you take when you let your dog go into the clinic without you.
One owner took her 16-week-old dog for the distemper and parvo vaccines. Nothing else. The vets gave a DHPP combo without permission … because they “couldn’t separate the vaccines.”
Another person took her dog in for a persistent UTI. The vet prescribed antibiotics … and bullied the owner into vaccinating. (Apparently the vet “forgot” the vaccine label warns that they’re only for healthy animals.) The owner specifically instructed the clinic not to give a leptospirosis shot. But when she got the bill, there was the lepto vaccine … against her stated wishes.
One woman wanted blood work for her dog but couldn’t get into her regular vet. So she went to a different vet. Without asking the owner … the clinic gave the dog a 3-year rabies shot, plus a combo vaccine that included lepto. But the dog had already had the rabies shot 3 months earlier at the other clinic! When the client complained, they apologized and refunded her money. But it’s not about the money … it’s about the damage to the dog from over-vaccination!
A dog went in for spaying. The owner clearly instructed “no vaccines.” The clinic gave the dog a distemper vaccine against her instructions.
It’s Careless Veterinary Care
These clinics could have easily avoided the errors. All it takes is a phone call to the client waiting in the parking lot! The clinics weren’t just sloppy … they acted like they didn’t care. They were were careless in every sense of the word.
And all of these clinics violated the “informed consent” doctrine. The AVMA’s policy recommends vets “document verbal or written informed consent and the client’s understanding.” And some states have laws that require vets to get written consent for certain treatments.
RELATED: What happened to informed consent?
Why Vets Want To Keep You Out Of The Clinic
I spoke with a few holistic vets for this article. Several of them suggested that a lot of vets prefer not having the owners in the room. Perhaps these practitioners went into veterinary medicine because they loved animals. But they’re not so keen on dealing with people!
Dog owners are a picky bunch. You love your dog a lot. So you ask questions and want to have a say in your dog’s care. Some vets don’t like you questioning their recommendations. They’d rather treat your dog and move on to the next patient … without having to discuss or explain what they’re doing.
Dr Blanco believes some vets are using the pandemic as an excuse to keep clients at arm’s length. Many medical procedures already do this. The laboratory analysis, the x-rays, the surgeries … all keep you at a subtle distance. So the vet staff doesn’t have to sit and answer the hard questions or feel the tougher emotions.
And if this is true, it suggests some vets will resist going back to the old ways. Even after COVID rules are no longer warranted … there may be some clinics that stick with drop-off care.
Dr Todd Cooney thinks curbside drop-off appeals to vets with a more authoritative streak. And he thinks those vets will continue it after the pandemic.
If that happens, don’t give these clinics your business. You pay your vet to care for your dog. And that means you get to make the decisions. Of course, you’ll listen to your vet’s recommendations. But then you get to say yes or no.
So … what choice do you have?
5 Ways To Avoid Curbside Vet Drop-off Mistakes
Your dog needs the vet, for whatever reason. And your vet has COVID rules preventing you from going too. Here are some ways to prevent mistakes.
#1 Do A Remote Consult With A Holistic Vet
This is an ideal solution for anybody who can’t find a good holistic vet locally. Many holistic vets routinely do phone consults. They include vets who practice herbalism, homeopathy or Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine. So find someone who fits your healthcare philosophy for your dog.
Ask other dog owners for recommendations … or check the directories at ahvma.org and theavh.org.
But sometimes you need hands-on work. In that case …
#2 Find A Holistic Vet To See Your Dog
I talked with several holistic vets when I was researching this article. And every one of them who has a clinic said they’re allowing owners to come in with their pets. There’s a downloadable list below to help you.
Again, if you don’t know a holistic vet, ask your friends, or check the AHVMA and AVH directories. Always read their websites and ask questions before you choose a vet. You want to know their healthcare philosophy. Then you won’t get surprised by “faux-listic” vets. Because some vets claim they use natural healthcare … but then give vaccinations and other pharmaceuticals.
#3 Find A Mobile Vet
Dr Blanco says she’s advising her clients to work with a house call vet. And It’s getting easier to find mobile vets. If a vet comes to your home, you’ll be in the room and can have a say in your dog’s exam or treatment. Your dog will be less stressed at home too.
Many mobile vets have well-equipped vans and can do more complex diagnostics. Others can even do procedures like teeth cleaning.
To find a mobile vet locally, the internet is your friend. A quick search using your city or zip code should bring up some local options. You may want to check Yelp reviews as well.
There are also some directories that list mobile or house call vets. Here’s one I found.
RELATED: How to find a vet you can work with …
#4 Give Instructions In Writing
Even if you do phone consults with a holistic vet or you use a mobile vet … sometimes you might need a service they can’t provide. And then you’re stuck with a local clinic.
If that happens, be prepared before you drop your dog off. Try to use a vet you have a relationship with. They’ll be more likely to respect your wishes if they know you.
Then, write down your clear detailed instructions.
- Specify exactly what services you do and don’t want (and what you will and won’t pay for!).
- Write your name – and your dog’s – on the instructions.
- Provide your mobile phone number so they can reach you while your dog’s at the clinic.
- Ask the vet to call you while she’s in the exam room with your dog. She can still do her job while she’s on speakerphone.
- State in bold or large letters … “No vaccinations or treatments without owner’s express permission.”
Then comes the hard part. How to make sure your vet actually sees your instructions. Here are some suggestions on how to make that happen. Multiple approaches are a good idea.
- If your vet reads email, email the instructions to her at least a day before your appointment.
- Give a copy of the instructions to the staff member who takes your dog. Be friendly and ask them to make sure the vet gets it. Ask this person for their name … and use it when you talk to them. This helps create a personal connection with the individual. And you’ll also know who’s to blame if the message doesn’t get through to the vet.
- Put the instructions in an envelope and tape it to your dog’s collar or harness.
- Write the instructions on a big tag and tie it to your dog’s collar or harness.
The Best Way To Deliver Your Instructions
Or even better … use a great suggestion from holistic veterinarian Dr Odette Suter. I love this idea!
- Use a marker to write your instructions on a white t-shirt.
- Include your mobile phone number.
- Then put the t-shirt on your dog.
This will make it much harder for the clinic to lose, forget or ignore your wishes!
#5 How To Handle Emergencies
This is more difficult. In an emergency, you won’t have time to prepare instructions. In a true emergency they’ll whisk your dog away and you won’t get any news for a while. Sometimes it could be hours before you get an update.
But you should still ask the staff to try to keep you informed. And tell them you want to speak to the vet as soon as they have some news.
Dr Barrie Sands is a holistic vet who also works at an emergency clinic.
If it’s a true emergency (like a car accident) the vets will go ahead and triage to save the patient’s life. Meanwhile the front desk gets the client’s approval for treatment that can cost $800 to $1000.
For animals in critical condition, the vets will stabilize them before they call the owners. Dr Sands says she calls as soon as she can turn her back without risking the pet dying.
Don’t Use The ER For Non Emergencies
Dr Sands also said many people are coming to the ER for non-emergencies. They’ve learned to use buzzwords that get them in. Like “my pug is hypoxic.” And then the pug trots in, breathing normally.
Try not to use emergency clinics for non-emergencies. It’s not fair to the pets who have true emergencies. And it’s not fair to the vets, who are already overwhelmed with cases.
In fact, Dr Sands told me most emergencies could be avoided if dogs were on better diets. A huge percentage of ER cases are GI problems like diarrhea or vomiting.
RELATED: How to manage emergency vet care BEFORE there’s an emergency …
What Holistic Vets Say About Curbside Care
Dr Dee Blanco told me “I’m not seeing patients, but I haven’t for a few years now. If I had an office I would be … and I probably would tell people to leave their masks at home!”
Dr Odette Suter understands that specialty and ER clinics can’t let owners in. If they had just one COVID case, they’d have to shut down.
But Dr Judy Jasek says there’s no reason for clinics not to let you in with your dog. And you should have the right to talk to your dog’s doctor before agreeing to any treatment.
It’s especially bad with the big corporate clinics who are profit-driven. Sometimes they’re dragging scared animals into the clinic … then sedating them for their visit to make their jobs easier.
Dr Katie Kangas had a client whose dog was at the vet with a serious condition. Yet, after 9 phone calls she still didn’t get to talk to the vet. She was stuck communicating through the receptionist.
Homeopath Brenda Tobin asks clients what the vet said. And the answer is often, “I don’t know, I didn’t get to talk to her.”
It it any wonder people say they don’t trust their vet?
We’re Stressing Our Dogs
Dr PJ Broadfoot observes that a lot of the rules are fear-based. But fear is the worst thing because it pushes you into sympathetic overdrive. That means you’re stressed … and so is your dog.
Every single holistic vet I spoke with agreed … pets are getting sicker because their families are so stressed during the pandemic. And that stress is rubbing off on our dogs. They’re also getting less rest because we’re with them 24/7.
Vet clinics are getting busier. So this isn’t an easy situation. Many vets are overwhelmed with patients. They’ve lost staff and are getting burned out.
But aren’t they making their lives harder with these rules? Wouldn’t it be simpler to have the owner in the clinic with their dog? Instead, clinics are too busy to communicate with owners … and potentially harming pets as a result.
So … it’s not easy getting vets to work with you in the pandemic environment. But there are ways to work around it.
Above all, get a holistic vet on board for most of your dog’s care. You may need a conventional vet sometimes for diagnostics … or even treatment. But you’ll have a holistic vet on your side to help you negotiate the process.
Here’s a downloadable list of the holistic vets I spoke with. If you’re local, these vets will all see you in person with your dog.
Source * www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com – * https://www.dogsnaturallymagazine.com/curbside-vet-tips/
Why I Don’t Give My Dogs Heartworm Meds (And Why You Shouldn’t Either)
Some vets tell dog owners that heartworm medicine is too dangerous to use.
Does that surprise you?
Holistic veterinarian Glen Dupree didn’t want his patients taking heartworm medicine. Dr Dupree found that a strong immune system was enough to protect his dogs from heartworm. And he also knew that giving dogs neurotoxic drugs every month would harm that immune system.
“I assume my dogs have heartworms,” said Dr Dupree. “But there’s a big difference between heartworms and heartworm disease.”
And that difference is a fully functioning immune system.
There are many holistic vets who don’t recommend using heartworm medicine. But the pro-health approach to parasite prevention isn’t all that popular … yet.
Here’s why holistic vets avoid heartworm medicine for dogs …
Your Dog’s Immune Systems Fights Parasites
When you think of the immune system, you probably think about diseases like parvo or kennel cough … or cancer.
But your dog’s immune system also protects his body from parasites … like heartworms.
A well-tuned immune system is the difference between a few heartworms … and a large heartworm load that affects your dog’s health. That’s what Dr Dupree was talking about.
So a big part of protecting your dog from heartworm is protecting his immune system.
What Causes A Weak Immune System In Dogs
Over-vaccination is a big problem. While vaccines can protect your dog from infectious disease, they come at a cost. One key reason for this is the ingredients in vaccines.
Toxic Vaccine Ingredients
Here are just a few of the toxins in vaccines …
- Mercury, which is neurotoxic and causes cancer and autoimmune disease.
- Aluminum, another neurotoxin. It can cause degeneration of the brain and nervous system. It’s especially harmful in young dogs. And it increases the toxicity of mercury. So the “safe” levels of mercury in your dog’s vaccines are severely underestimated.
- MSG, a common food flavoring that’s a neutotransmitter affecting your dog’s brain response.
- Formaldehyde, one of the most hazardous and highly cancer-causing compounds known.
So a dog who’s been vaccinated regularly with these toxic ingredients will have a hard time being truly healthy.
RELATED: Learn more about toxic ingredients in your dog’s vaccines …
Vaccines Suppress The Immune System
As well as having harmful ingredients, vaccines suppress the immune system.
Immunologist HH Fudenberg says if your dog receives just one monovalent vaccine, his cell-mediated immunity will be cut in half. And just two vaccines will lower it by 70%.
Monovalent means the vaccine has a single virus. But most dogs get several at the same time. Here’s what HH Fudenberg says about 3-in-1 vaccines:
“… all triple vaccines markedly impair cell-mediated immunity, which predisposes to recurrent viral infections, especially otitis media, as well as yeast and fungi infections.”
RELATED: Immunity without the needle …
Yet most dogs get 3 to 7 vaccine components at a time. They get too many vaccines … and much too often. It’s no wonder vets worry about heartworm.
But that brings me to …
The Side Effects Of Heartworm Meds
Just as vaccines can damage the immune system, so can your dog’s heartworm meds.
Heartworm meds are neurotoxins. They kill larvae is by paralyzing them. So it’s no wonder that they can also damage your dog. In the side effects below, you’ll see neurological problems … like ataxia, tremors, convulsions, or seizures.
And that’s just in the short term. Nobody really knows the long-term risks of heartworm meds. Because they haven’t tested the effects of giving them … for several months every year, for your dog’s whole life.
So the best guess we have is the adverse reactions that occur right after taking heartworm meds.
Short Term Reactions To Heartworm Meds
Here are some reported side effects of common heartworm medications for dogs …
HEARTGARD And TriHeartPlus (ivermectin)
Depression/lethargy, vomiting, anorexia, diarrhea, mydriasis, ataxia staggering, convulsions and hypersalivation.
INTERCEPTOR (milbemycin oxime)
The above reactions plus weakness.
SENTINEL (milbemycin oxime)
Vomiting, depression/lethargy, pruritus, urticaria, diarrhea, anorexia, skin congestion, ataxia, convulsions, hypersalivation and weakness.
REVOLUTION® (selamectin), Topical Parasiticide For Dogs and Cats
Vomiting, loose stool or diarrhea with or without blood, anorexia, lethargy, salivation, tachypnea, and muscle tremors, pruritis, urticaria, erythema, ataxia, fever. There have been some reports of death and seizures in dogs.
ProHeart 6 and Proheart 12
These are injectable drugs that last for 6 or 12 months. 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.
The maker withdrew this drug from the market in 2004 because of deaths. But they’ve brought it back. And now they’ve introduced ProHeart 12 too! The really scary thing about these injectables is that if your dog has a reaction, you can’t just stop giving them. The drugs are in his body for 6 or 12 months.
RELATED: FDA approves potentially deadly ProHeart 12 …
And of course, if your dog gets side effects from the meds, it’ll weaken his immune system too. And a weaker immune system makes him more susceptible to all diseases … including heartworms.
How Dogs Get Heartworms
Let’s get one thing straight.
Heartworms are transmitted by mosquito bites. That’s the only way your dog can get them. He can’t catch heartworms from another dog … or even another animal.
And there’s one other thing that needs clarifying.
Microfilariae Vs Larvae
People often use these words interchangeably. And even vets seem confused.
Microfilariae and larvae are both young heartworms. But they’re not the same.
Microfilariae are heartworm babies. Larvae are the toddlers that grow up from those babies. They grow from microfilariae to larvae inside mosquitoes.
- When adult heartworms breed inside an animal, they create microfilariae.
- When a mosquito bites an infected animal, it picks up the microfilariae.
- After the mosquito picks up the microfilariae, they grow into larvae in the mosquito.
With the understanding of that difference, let’s talk about how mosquitoes give your dog heartworm. It’s quite a complicated sequence of events.
- The mosquito picks up heartworm microfilariae by biting a heartworm-infected animal.
- Microfilariae grow into larvae in the mosquito.
- The mosquito with heartworm larvae bites your dog, leaving larvae in him.
- Over about 6-7 months, the larvae can grow into adult heartworms in your dog.
- Eventually, the adult heartworms start breeding … creating microfilariae.
If you’d like a visual aid to explain the process, the AHS has quite a good diagram.
That’s a lot of background … but it’s important to grasp it so you know how to protect your dog from heartworm without toxic drugs.
How To Prevent Heartworm Naturally
Yes, it’s possible to protect your dog without harmful drugs. Even in places where mosquitoes are bad.
It might not be as simple as giving that tasty heartworm chew every month … but it’s a lot safer for your dog!
Again, remember, the goal of heartworm meds is to kill the larvae before they grow up. But your dog’s own immune system can do that … without drugs.
That’s the reason for focusing on the immune system … it’s the first step in avoiding heartworm disease.
#1 Support Your Dog’s Immune System
Your healthy dog’s own immune system can prevent heartworm disease. Yes, that’s heartworm disease, not heartworms. They’re not the same thing, as Dr Dupree said.
It means … your dog could have heartworms in his body. But they don’t have to make him sick.
Think about wild dogs like wolves, coyotes or foxes. These animals are outdoors 24/7. So they’re much more likely to get mosquito bites than domestic dogs who live mainly indoors. Wild dogs might have heartworms … but research shows they don’t get heartworm disease. And they don’t die of heartworms.
Wild dogs are healthier because they eat natural diets. And they’re not exposed to drugs and toxins like domestic dogs.
And you can strengthen your domestic dog’s health with a natural lifestyle too. That means …
- Feed a natural, raw meat-based, whole food diet (not kibble)
- Minimize vaccines
- Use natural remedies instead of pharmaceutical drugs
- Use natural flea and tick prevention
- Don’t use chemicals in your home and yard
- Give your dog fresh spring or filtered water
- Give him plenty of exercise
Even if you aren’t already doing these things, jt’s not too late to start. Your dog won’t develop a robust immune system overnight. It’ll take time … but you can help him along by giving some immune boosting herbs and supplements.
RELATED: Immune system boosters that work …
The next step in preventing heartworm is …
#2 Avoid Mosquito Bites
If you live somewhere with a lot of mosquitoes, try to keep them away from your dog.
- Avoid standing water in your yard or on walks
- Keep your dog indoors at dawn and dusk or when mosquitoes are most active
- Avoid swampy mosquito breeding areas on walks
- Use natural mosquito repellents to keep the bugs away
- Feed fresh garlic to help repel mosquitoes
Dr Patricia Jordan also suggests keeping chickens … as they love to eat mosquitoes!
Steps #1 and #2 will keep most healthy dogs heartworm free. But you may want a layer of extra protection, especially if you live in a high mosquito area … or your dog is new to the natural lifestyle!
#3 Use Herbal Heartworm Protection
There are different ways to do this.
Buy A Ready-Made Herbal Blend
There are some pre-made herbal heartworm products you can buy.
As you search, be aware their websites usually won’t directly say they prevent heartworms. That’s because the FDA won’t let manufacturers make that claim for natural products.
So they have to be a bit subtle in the language they use to describe their product. They’ll say things like …
- Supports normal heart function
- Promotes healthy blood circulation
- Helps detox foreign contaminates
- For use during mosquito season
This means you might have to call the company to find out if their product really protects from heartworm. They’ll be more open on the phone.
You may see ingredients like …
- Hawthorn (a heart-strengthening herb that helps circulation)
- Dandelion leaves (help with detox)
- Garlic (anti-parasitic, immune support and insect repellent)
- Neem (immune support, insect repellent)
- Wormwood (antiparasitic)
- Black Walnut (antiparasitic)
- Black seed (antiparasitic
Use Individual Herbs
For this option it’s best to work with a holistic vet or herbalist. A professional can recommend a protocol to protect your dog from heartworm. The advantage of this approach is that it can be tailored to your dog’s individual needs.
Your herbalist may recommend various combinations of herbs. They may include herbs like …
- Wormwood (antiparasitic – use only with professional guidance)
- Hawthorn (strengthens heart function)
- Ginger (supports heart disease risk factors)
- Thyme (supports immunity, repels mosquitoes)
- Garlic (supports heart health, repels insects)
- Peppermint (bug repellent)
- Cinnamon (for heart and neurological health)
- Cloves (antiparasitic)
- Dan shen (supports cardiovascular health)
- Medicinal mushrooms (boost immunity)
- CoQ10 (heart-strengthening supplement)
You can find a holistic veterinarian who uses western herbs in their practice. Search at ahvma.org and select Western Herbs as the Modality.
Herbalists Greg Tilford and Mary Wulff recommend giving echinacea if you’re going into high risk areas. Echinacea supports your dog’s immune system. You can give most dogs 12-25 drops of tincture 3 times a day, for 3 days before and 3 days after your outing.
Caution: Don’t use echinacea full time. Most experts say it’s best used when the immune system needs extra support.
There’s one other thing you can do to protect your dog … even if you don’t give any drugs or herbal remedies.
#4 Test For Heartworm More Often
Most vets recommend testing for heartworm once a year, in spring. But if you test your dog for heartworm more often … you’ll find an infection sooner. And that means you can start treating him at an earlier stage.
Keep reading … because there’s some detailed information you need to know.
First, let’s get into the different types of heartworm tests.
How Heartworm Tests Work
There are 3 different types of heartworm tests.
The regular test your vet does is an antigen test. Here are the shortcomings of this test.
- It can only identify adult female heartworms. That’s why your vet says it takes heartworms 6 months to show up on testing.
- Heartworm antigen can be in the blood within 5 months. But most dogs won’t show antigen until 7 months after infection.
- These tests also may not pick up a low worm burden. If your dog only has one or two female worms, the test has a 30-40% false negative rate.
- Some dogs won’t show antibody at all due to “antigen-antibody complexes” in the blood.
So that’s why your vet may also do a microfilariae test.
This test will show if there are microfilariae in your dog’s system. And official recommendations have changed. In the past, vets only did it if the antigen test was positive or weak-positive.
The AHS now recommends doing the microfilariae test annually. This avoids false negatives on the antigen test. A positive microfilariae test confirms there are mature heartworms in your dog. And they’re breeding.
Those two are the tests your vet likely knows about. But there’s a little known, third type of test.
DNA Heartworm Test
This is a DNA test using PCR (polymerase chain reaction) technology. It tests for heartworm DNA in your dog’s blood.
The place to get this test is HealthGene in Canada. The test is the D319 Canine Heartworm (Diofilaria immitis) test on this page. HealthGene confirms that the test identifies heartworms at all stages. That means it shows microfilariae, larvae and adult heartworms.
You’ll need your vet’s help, because HealthGene won’t work with you directly. Your vet can order the test kits here. Then she’ll have to send the sample to HealthGene in Canada.
So … which test should you get? And how often?
Which Heartworm Test Should You Choose?
If your vet will help you get the DNA test … the best choice is the DNA test by HealthGene.
Again … when an infected mosquito infects your dog, it transmits larvae. The larvae take 6-7 months to grow into adults. The DNA test will identify larvae in your dog’s blood.
Finding the larvae vs adult heartworms means the infection is much easier to treat. So you’d only need to give heartworm meds if your dog’s DNA test was positive for larvae. And not every single month. Or you could use a herbal remedy instead.
It’s more hassle to get this test. But it’s doable … you just have to talk your vet into it!
But if that’s too hard (or expensive) … or you just can’t find a vet to help you …
Next best is the regular antigen test your vet does. But you’ll need to do it more often than once a year.
Vets insist there’s no point in testing more often than once a year. That’s because they know the test won’t be positive until 6 or 7 months after infection. So they test in spring, before prescribing heartworm meds for the next season.
But wouldn’t it be better to know if your dog’s positive sooner rather than later? Your vet waits until several months after the end of mosquito season. But if peak mosquito season where you live is during summer months (June through August) … your dog could test positive as early as December or January. Why wait till spring to find out?
It could be worth a couple of extra tests starting 6 months after the beginning of mosquito season wherever you live. And then, if your dog is positive, you can start treating him a few months sooner … before more adults develop.
The microfilariae test is just a way to confirm the accuracy of the antigen test. So if you want to be more confident, you could do it alongside the antigen test.
Heartworms Are Becoming Resistant To Meds
You might have heard that heartworms are becoming resistant to heartworm meds. The more we use the drugs, the less effective they become. In the US, more and more dogs each year are getting heartworm while on the meds.
Yet the AHS had an ironic response to these reports. Their solution is to recommend heartworm meds year-round. Let’s see … the heartworms are becoming resistant to the drugs … so the solution is to give more drugs? Does that make sense to you?
Why do they think giving heartworm meds more often is the answer? Well, it might have something to do with the companies who fund them …
Their sponsors are names like …
- Boehringer Ingelheim
All makers of heartworm drugs! So of course … the people who make money from heartworm meds want you to take them more often. But that doesn’t mean you have to buy their products.
So in summary, here’s why I don’t give my dogs heartworm meds:
- Heartworms are becoming resistant. Even dogs on meds are getting them.
- Heartworm meds contain toxic ingredients. These toxins make my dogs more likely to get heartworms and other parasites.
- Heartworm meds can be replaced with herbal remedies.
- Regular testing can help you identify infections earlier.
Perhaps you’ll consider avoiding these drugs too. Your vet may disapprove. But now you have some information to help you with that discussion!
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