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Old 07-28-2014, 11:04 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Unhappy MY GS has heart worm

I found out my dog max has Heart worm after he got a blood check. Hes almost 2 years old. Very active and loves to play ball.We got tablets for him from the vet to give to him one each day for 30 days. After the 30 day we take him back to the vet to get a shot and then in a little a shot again. The vet said not to run with him or play ball as we used to. This is my first dog and i wanted to know if anyone els when through this with their dog and how it works. I knew that heart worm was out there but i didn't think that my dog could get it. I used to play with him a lot taking him on walks or running with him. Hes a very active dog and loves when i spend time with him but now that i started to give him the tablet every day i cant go for runs with him

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Old 07-29-2014, 02:43 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I'm sorry you are going through this. HW is, unfortunately, quite serious. It's a very hard lesson to learn about not using HW prevention. The good news is you caught it relatively early if you are doing annual tests, so the worm load is (hopefully) low. He's young and strong, so you've got that in your favor too. I've seen many dogs treated successfully who went on to lead healthy, normal, active lives -- yours will too!

I've taken several rescued dogs through "fast-kill" treatment, which sounds like what your vet is prescribing. I'm going to be very honest with you about the treatment -- it's a hard treatment for any dog to go through, but it has to be done.

I've been told by several vets to wait to start the shots until the weather is cool--they think it's safer. You might ask about your vet about that.

My guess is the daily tablets you are giving are doxycycline -- an antibiotic that kills a nasty bacteria that lives inside the heartworms, in order to prepare for the injections.

The injections that are coming after you finish the doxy are the drug that kills the heartworms (immiticide). It's a very deep injection (requiring sedation for some dogs, as the needle is so long and the shot is so slow and really hurts). Expect your dog to be very, very sore for several days afterward (some dogs need pain medication a few days, so don't be shy about telling your vet if yours seems to be hurting). Your dog is also likely to act tired after the injection (lethargy for several days is common--they lie around and mope).

After that, he may feel better and want to play, but you MUST keep the dog quiet and calm for the next 6-8 weeks -- no walks, no playing, just lots of crate rest. If he's out of the crate in the house, he should be on a leash next to you in the house. Your vet will give you very specific instructions about all that after the first shot, and you must follow the instructions carefully. Ask lots of questions of your vet about what's not allowed, so that you have a very good understanding of it.

After the first shot starts, your dog is in a "risky period" -- this is the period where deadly complications can happen, so you have to be very careful. The worms will be dying in the heart and lungs and landing on the capillary beds of the lungs to be broken down. You want them to do this one or two worms at a time. If the heart pumps hard as the worms are dying, whole chunks of dead worms could break off at once, creating a life-threatening situation. My vet had me get in the habit of counting my dogs' breaths while they were sleeping during this period--I had a number that we wanted to stay under, and over that number, I was to treat as an emergency. (My dogs got through it all just fine--no emergencies.)

Start planning now low-energy activities you can do with your dog in your house, to break up the boredom during this no-exercise time. Teaching little tricks and playing puzzle games is a possibility, as long as those things don't require exertion from the dog. My goal was to keep their minds engaged, while we were resting their bodies. I also took mine on drives, for a change of scenery.

Your vet might also prescribe prednisone (pills) during treatment, as it's often part of the protocol. The practical effect of that is your dog will probably drink a lot and pee a lot -- accidents in the house in fully house-trained dog are common (the dog can't help it, so be forgiving).

I hope this helps you mentally prepare for the road ahead. I'm glad you are treating the disease -- as rough as the treatment is, the disease is worse, and the 2-3 months of treatment will be over before you know it.

Good luck!
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Old 07-29-2014, 05:11 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default My gs has heartworm

Thank -you Magwart for writing this educational explanation of trying to get rid of the heartworms. I did not realize it was such a big procedure and so hard on the poor dog. Wow. I have never heard it explained outright like this. Thank-you again.
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Old 07-29-2014, 07:12 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I see your in Massachusetts,,hw is quite prevailant in this area as well as alot of tick borne diseases, Dogs in the New England area "must" be on HW preventative, I'm kinda surprised your vet didn't tell you this. You also might want to look into tick preventatives as well.

We had a gsd go thru this years ago, the previous owner never did hw meds, the first round of meds, almost killed him, we had to stop and restart..It took quite a toll on the dog, but he was able to get thru it.

Hope yours gets thru the treatment ok
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Old 07-29-2014, 08:34 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I am glad that you are listening so well to your vet, and that your vet has given you the quiet/still instruction. As soon as my last foster was diagnosed with HW I started leash potties and quiet in the house - no activity. There is a lot of science behind that.

Big Dogs, Big Heartworm is how I blogged her treatment, so tons of info in there, including an issue where she must have been passing a clot and became quite ill, and pictures of what the shot looks like. I still would only ever do fast kill as we did it with her, or as recommended by the AHS.

I did it in the summer, and she stayed in a room with A/C, and a fan pointed at her bed. She was semi-sedated with a safe combo of meds, because despite her age of 9, she had a lot of physical energy, and also a lot of nervous energy.

She lost weight before treatment started - on purpose - so that way while she was crated for 3 months, really, she could get bones, treats, things like a premiere squirrel dude, without worrying about weight gain. Those things are good distractions.

Good luck with your dog - read, read, read.
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Old 07-29-2014, 08:42 AM   #6 (permalink)
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A little JR in a rescue just beat HW, he was packed full! but, the vet worked with his foster family and the family made 100% sure Colt"s needs were met and he just tested neg. Kepp your head up.
Magwart wrote a great post.
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Old 07-29-2014, 11:22 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks for the heads up! Almost done with the second week of giving him the tablets. Hes going to be on HW prevention after he is done with the treatment not only one that but on tick prevention too. Thank you again for giving me a heads up about the next few months with my dog. I cant wait to go on runs with him after hes better.
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Old 07-29-2014, 02:51 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Keeping the dog quiet is the hardest part, but you can do it. I'm sorry he has heartworm, but you are going to get him through this. You and Max will be in my thoughts and prayers.
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Old 07-29-2014, 05:02 PM   #9 (permalink)
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What led you to believe that your dog was immune to HW without a preventative?

Living where you do, what advice did your Vet give you about the chances of contracting HW and what preventatives were available?

Had your dog seen a Vet before contracting HW?

I am praying for your dog, and I hope you now have a clue. Think about that while your dog is in a crate all day. It's not you that is 'going through' anything. Your dog is bearing the brunt of your ignorance.
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Old 07-29-2014, 05:07 PM   #10 (permalink)
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No need to be mean. Perhaps he adopted the dog and it came with heartworm. Regardless, he knows now. He can't take it back. Can only move forward.
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