Heartworm and the limits of Holistic Rearing

Eti has come to the end of his supply of Heartgard. After the last dose of this medication, he vomited later that night and I decided that it was time to take another look at whether I wanted to continue giving him this medication. I thought I had reached a stand on the issue-the medicine is toxic but the problem far too serious to leave unattended. I give him this pesticide but on an extended cycle of 45 days(instead of 30) and only in the months that mosquitos are prevalent (June to November).

This bout of vomiting however and the recently learned information that a friend's dog was not taking medication (but getting tested regularly) without any issue renewed my interest in the subject. I found more information on the subject. A map of its prevalence in the US, and some new information about the discovery of a parasite called Wolbachia that lives symbiotically inside heartworms.

It was reading this article by Christie Keith however that firmed my stand on the subject. Although having raised her pets holistically for 19 years this article quite soberly warns that "The idea that nature left to operate unhindered will always result in a positive outcome is a form of magical thinking" and that you can't always leave things to mother nature because she can be a real bitch."She doesn't give a damn if your dog lives or dies."

This doesn't deter me from a holistic path, it simply defines how to navigate a tricky corner. In this post in the Onibasu archives she states that "the alternative approaches are NOT holistic at all -they rely on the exact same action as allopathic drugs to protect our dogs, which is, they kill the larva/worms in the bloodstream. They just use herbs instead of drugs, which may or may not be safer, but is no more or less "holistic" than using ivermectin. " The other consideration mentioned in this post is that 'the greatest risk comes not from the substance you are using to kill the worms, but from the presence of dead worms in the dog's circulatory system.These dead worms form clots that can kill a dog. Dogs treated with conventional drugs are hospitalized during the administration and the owners are supposed to keep the dogs completely inactive - as in, CRATED - for at least one month, sometimes more, while the worms die off."

Holistic rearing is a dynamic process -one that requires informed choices based on an evaluation of all the risks and alternatives involved-and the evaluation process is an ongoing one. So,in the matter of heartworm medication vs no heartworm medicine - we will be making a visit to the vets shortly for a new prescription of Heartgard.


Eti is now on Interceptor -it is apparently easier on dogs and Eti doesn't seem affected by it as he was on Heartgard. He had his first heartworm test this spring which was negative and I intend to test him every couple of years.

More info here.


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