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Discussion Starter #1
I've gone much more holistic with Kaiju's general health care than I ever thought I would. We've switched to raw, we've gone on a limited vaccination schedule (I think vaccines are bit overused, but I do still think they're good, so I'm not anti-vaxx), and have even been without chemical flea and tick treatment for almost four months now with no problems.

Now the next potential step is a doozy and one I'm considering carefully - cutting out the ivermectin heartworm preventative. The few holistic vets in the area I have talked to have encouraged me to go without if I am comfortable with it. They seem to believe that a dog on a natural, healthy diet with no health complications should not have the problems contracting heartworms that unhealthy dogs or dogs on processed food or with systems overly saturated with chemicals would have.

This makes sense to me, but I'm also fighting with years of conditioning that if he doesn't get the ivermectin tablet every month, he'll instantly be a heartworm poster child with the spaghetti bowl heart you see in all the vet's offices.

I feel like Kaiju would be safe as we have had no health or parasite problems since we switched everything up - I have not found a single flea, tick, fly, or mosquito on him for months. Not even a bite. I'd like to hear thoughts and opinions, especially from anyone who is using holistic health methods and has gone off heartworm meds.
 

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I don't remember where I read it, there was a breeder that used to feel the same way (not a gsd breeder) and then he ended up with a horrible infestation on two of the dogs. One was imported in a bad condition, so explainable. But another was his dog, third generation raw fed, healthy and all that

My dog is off meds now but I'm going to go back on for the summer months.

Supposedly, if they're healthy they should be able to kill them off. But too many variables for my liking. How do I know my dog is healthy? Things might be happening without me knowing. His immune system might be stressed at the moment because he might be fighting something and the HW comes in at that moment.

I'm just going to deal with the few months of meds and hope that the damage is not too great.
 

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They seem to believe that a dog on a natural, healthy diet with no health complications should not have the problems contracting heartworms that unhealthy dogs or dogs on processed food or with systems overly saturated with chemicals would have.
If your vet cannot prove their "belief" to you with scientific evidence, I would continue to administer the HW medication during the times of year where mosquitos are present. Beliefs and facts are not the same thing.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I think the take was less that a healthy dog would fight off heartworm and more that a healthy dog is not an attractive host to mosquitoes that carry the parasite.

That's one of the big things that I'm taking into account is that we have had zero bug problems. I swear we went hiking the other day and he had a bubble of space around him that the bugs just didn't seem to want to fly in. Maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but very close :D

And of course heartworm test would be done every six months...I don't know, I was just hoping for some input from anyone who had gone this route.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
If your vet cannot prove their "belief" to you with scientific evidence, I would continue to administer the HW medication during the times of year where mosquitos are present. Beliefs and facts are not the same thing.
Sorry, didn't mean to make it seem like it was just their opinion. They did have health records that they were able to show me with patient's permission of dogs off of heartworm prevention with negative heartworm results for years and years of treatment.
 

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Sorry, didn't mean to make it seem like it was just their opinion. They did have health records that they were able to show me with patient's permission of dogs off of heartworm prevention with negative heartworm results for years and years of treatment.

Proof would be a healthy dog getting bitten by a mosquito carrying HW and fighting it off. However, they don't gain anything by talking you out of it so I'm not sure
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Proof would be a healthy dog getting bitten by a mosquito carrying HW and fighting it off. However, they don't gain anything by talking you out of it so I'm not sure
From what I understand, the point is more that a truly healthy dog is just not a suitable host for a mosquito, so the bug would not be drawn to the dog. Not that the dog can get chewed up and magically not contract heartworm.
 

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I have an autoimmune disorder, the other lady in my office has high BP, diabetes and yesterday we were itching like crazy from mosquito bites. I don't think that a mosquito curr! The smoker in the office was clear though, so maybe that's the way to go!

DogAware.com Articles: Heartworm Prevention in Dogs

Some argue, but . . .

As the co-moderator of an e-mail list on dog health and nutrition, I frequently see people allege that as long as you have a healthy dog, feed a raw diet, and do not over vaccinate, your dog will not get heartworms. If only this were true! These measures may help to some degree, but they are not foolproof. The only way to know for sure that your dog is protected is to give heartworm preventatives.

Christie Keith, who lives in an area of Northern California where heartworm is relatively uncommon and has raised Scottish Deerhounds naturally for over 19 years, learned this the worst way.

“I went 16 years not using any form of allopathic preventative on my dogs. At the end of that 16-year period, on routine testing, I found that two of my dogs were heartworm-positive," says Keith. "One of the positive dogs was Raven, who is a deerhound I bought from another breeder. She came to me at 17 weeks with bad ear infections and severe allergies, and no one could argue that Raven was healthy or had a normal immune system.
”In contrast, my dog Bran (pictured at right) was a third-generation, naturally reared dog of my own breeding. He was unvaccinated other than minimally for rabies. He was raw-fed. His mother and her mother were raw-fed and unvaccinated other than minimally for rabies. He was, by any definition available, extremely healthy and robust. He had never been sick a day in his life.”

Christie successfully treated both her dogs, though Raven almost died of a pulmonary embolism during treatment. Bran became heartworm-free after several months of using the “slow kill” method of heartworm treatment, with no sign of any adverse effects. Unfortunately, Bran died of acute renal failure not long after that. Necropsy results were inconclusive, showing that Bran had glomerulonephritis, but not why.

In her research to try to find the cause of her dog’s death, Christie discovered that glomerulonephritis is a potential side effect of heartworm infection. Although she and her vets eventually came to the conclusion that Bran’s renal failure was caused by Lyme nephritis rather than heartworm disease, it was disturbing to realize that heartworms can affect more than the heart and lungs.

“I have no intention of ever living through what I lived through with Raven and Bran. I can't keep silent when I see people starting to believe that healthy animals don't get heartworm and that we can blithely forgo using preventatives if we don't overvaccinate and feed raw. It's just not so. And it's not realistic to rely on the health and natural disease resistance of our dogs to protect them from a threat that they are exposed to frequently, as is the case in heartworm-endemic areas.”

“No creature is in a static state of health 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If our dogs are frequently exposed to an infectious parasite, eventually they may well succumb to it, no matter how healthy they are normally.”
Here is the website of the holistic breeder referenced above who now uses prevention: Caber Feidh Scottish Deerhounds

This vet is obviously on the opposite side but here you go: There is no “Natural” or “Holistic” Heartworm Prevention or Treatment Proven to be Safe and Effective | The SkeptVet

But the writer of dogaware obviously is a supporter of natural methods and still uses HW preventatives.
 

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I just did a general search on HW in Texas.

Everything I saw indicates it is on the rise - up 45% in one report. Just something to think about.
 

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I do as much of the holistic as possible, but living in the south, there are three things you don't mess with: insects, heart worm, and rabies.

And this advice I got from a Florida holistic vet.

The idea that mosquitoes have the capability of choosing their meal victim, only biting "sick dogs, " is ludicrous.
 

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It does not seem to hold much value, to me. I know very healthy dogs that have gotten it.

That said, I do dose invermectin very minimally- two to three times per summer, NOT every 30 days.
 

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I do the same as Danielle, Ivomec dose every 45 days or so in the Summer months.

Dogs are rawfed, springtime garlic to prevent ticks/fleas and minimal vaccinations.
 

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I give it every 30 days, but only from June to November. I'm not messing around with HW, but our severe climate here makes winter dosing unnecessary. I do know people who aren't using any preventative at all, but I could never take that gamble myself. Even my non-allopathic vet recommends HW preventatives.

I'm curious how an untreated dog would fare once it presents with HW? Is this something that would be easy to get rid of with non-conventional methods? Or would it be a full-on allopathic assault? What would your vet recommend in that case? I think a bit of prevention goes a long way.
 

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Ohh, lol, Jean, it was you that gave me that article about the guy that got hw on a healthy third generation raw fed dog.
 

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From what I understand, the point is more that a truly healthy dog is just not a suitable host for a mosquito, so the bug would not be drawn to the dog. Not that the dog can get chewed up and magically not contract heartworm.

No way. Are you saying mosquitos don't bite healthy people and animals?

ETA actually, the argument is that a healthy dog will get bitten and his immune system will kill the HW
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thank you for all the information and opinions everyone! I believe I've decided to hang on to the heartworm preventative. It would be nice to be able to believe that the changes would be enough to make him able to fight off heartworm, but it's just not worth the risk.

I'm curious how an untreated dog would fare once it presents with HW? Is this something that would be easy to get rid of with non-conventional methods? Or would it be a full-on allopathic assault? What would your vet recommend in that case? I think a bit of prevention goes a long way.
One has a dog going through a holistic treatment for heartworm right now, but the dog is not free yet so I don't know how that will turn out. Supposedly he has treated other heartworm positive dogs and cleared them with holistic methods, but he doesn't have any open records to prove it to me.
 

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I haven't been giving my dogs heart-worm meds for some time now. But I'm very undecided on the whole thing. After Lincoln gets tested this year, I may start him on it. We will see. So far my dogs have been ok (Avery just passed but he hadn't been on heart-worm meds for at least 2 years)..


Sent from Petguide.com Free App
 

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When your dog tests positive for heartworm they have been infected for at least 5-6 months. The test can only detect adult worms (stage L5). The idea of the preventative is to kill the larvae after your dog is infected in the L3/L4 stages, before they migrate to the heart (adult/L5 stage).

So for those waiting until the dog tests positive, they test positive only when the parasite reaches the adult stages and they are already damaging your dog's heart. Up to you. I use the preventative, but extend it to every 6 weeks and only during the warm summer months (I'm Canadian) when HW is a risk factor.

OP, I applaud you for changing to raw and avoiding over-vaccinating :)
 

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I now give the dogs at least 4 doses, maybe 5 depending on the weather, every 45 days. Vaccines are minimal, no distemper after they have 2 three year shots after the puppy shots. Rabies is every three years, I wish the law would change and allow titering once they get to bd seniors. No other vaccines. For fleas and ticks I started using the Scalibor collar with great results. One of the dogs did break his collar and he is on nexgard for now. I have my property sprayed for Mosquitos, ticks and fleas every 21 days and that reduces the Mosquitos quite a bit. I put vanilla behind their ears and that takes card of the flies and gnats.
 
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