Three weeks ago we drove across Country with our three dogs and the cat. The trip went smoothly and last week I took the dogs in to get them on heartworm preventive as needed in Virginia. I was shocked to learn that Mowgli tested positive for heartworms. I had a more extensive test done and that also confirmed the news. He was adopted a year and a half ago in January from a shelter in Buena Vista CO (9000 ft. elevation) and was about 10 months old. He was never tested. Where he came from we don't know and, in hindsight, we should have tested. I live at 7200 ft.elevation and have never needed to use preventive. I am lucky that he did not infect my other two dogs.... He will be going in to start treatment tomorrow morning. I hope he will be well in time and be able to deal with the treatment. My sweet boy.....
I know I will have to keep him calm and minimize exercise, if anyone has additional advice, it will be appreciated.
The new way they treat is a mix of what they call the "slow kill' method as well as the imiticide which kills the adults. The vet will generally put your dog on 30 days of doxycycline to kill a bacteria that lives in the gut of the adult heartworm and the heartworm needs this bacteria to live. Once the 30 day antibiotics are done then you start treatment. At my vet we keep the dog overnight with lots of pain medications adn they tend to do great with treatment. Yes, you want to keep him quiet, but I don't think its as important to keep them strictly confined to a crate during the course of treatment like it used to be. With one of our rescue dogs at school we were still able to take her on short walks, she just wasn't allowed to run and play. If your pup is otherwise healthy i"m sure he will do great with treatment! Good luck!
Do you know how severe the infestation is? Have you had X-rays or ultra-sound? That has a lot to do with the difficulty of treatment. I'm kind of assuming that Mowgli's at a low level, since you didn't notice any symptoms. What is he going in for tomorrow? Has he had his antibiotics yet?
Killing off the bacteria with doxycycline first makes it safer for the dog when the worms die, because the shedding of the bacteria could be dangerous. When the Immiticide (I think that's what is used) is given to kill the adult worms, the risk is that parts of a dead worm could break off like a blood clot. That's when you need to keep the pup quiet. I'm trying to remember our protocol without access to the handout we give to adopters. I believe that after the doxycycline, which we start while the dog is still in the shelter, we have the dog settle into it's new home, then there are two shots a month apart. They can be painful, and require crate rest.
A young healthy dog has a good chance of recovery. Mowgli seems to fit that description. We send home dogs with heartworm fairly often, and we treat it this way. There may be other ways that are more costly, but being a shelter not every avenue is open to us. Start thinking of ways to keep your little boy entertained in his crate for a month or so. Keep his diet good, fight off the urge to give him unhealthy treats because you feel sorry for him. He needs to stay healthy and not get fat.
@Jennifer, it looks like the only FDA approved drug is still arsenic based. Not what we use now, thank goodness. That must have been awful.
If you have already started treatment then you are on your way. I adopted a rescue that had an ear infection, hook worms, a UTI and heart worms. She was really too sick to start the usual treatment and the drug was in short supply so I studied on the internet and with help of my vet, we treated her with a preventative (Advantage Multi) that was less likely to kill the adult worms so that new little ones were sterile and couldn't reinfect her or be transferred. We gave her doxycycline 1 week a month to treat the parasite that infects the worms and make them more potent (it is a rickettsia) and I had her a natural extract that made from green black walnut hulls, wormwood and cloves. When the rickettsia are killed off the worms die gradually. I started the herbal prep extremely low and worked up to a high dose over a few weeks. I gave her Super Bio-curcumin which is a natural anti-inflammatory, CoQ10 which was recommended and a full-spectrum vit. e. Her heart murmur was no longer detectable after 3 - 4 months so she had surgery for an inguinal hernia (but her blood test was still positive then) and I kept treating her but started alternating the Advantage Multi with HeartGard Plus (can kill adult worms) every other month and kept up the herbal material and she was totally free by 9 months. This is called the slow treatment and it did work and didn't cost as much as the traditional treatment. I also gave her a more expensive dog food and some coconut oil which I think is just a good nutrient.
Thank you all for the information. Mowgli's blood-work was excellent and his chest X-ray normal. He got an injection today of a preventative to kill the microfilaria in the bloodstream (Macrolide) and steroids. No one has mentioned antibiotics.... In a month Mowgli will get an injection of Immitticide to kill the adults and monthly doses of Heartguard Plus and also, I believe, steroids. We will then be traveling back to Colorado where our regular Vet will continue the treatment ( two more shots 24 hrs. apart one month from the previous shot.) He did well today and I was so happy to get him back. No restrictions on him this month, but next month his activity will be restricted. He is calm in the house, so I don't think this will be difficult for him. He has lost some weight, but this may be to his advantage Fingers crossed.
I have a friend whose rescue dog went through heartworm treatment and was fine. I know it can be risky and some of them get pretty lethargic for a few days, but hopefully all will go well. Please keep us posted on your little guy! I'll be thinking about you both.
Thanks Beth, I'm a little concerned about having to make our cross Country trip back to Colorado in the middle of the treatment and hope the Dog Fairy looks after us... :-)
Corgis have their own special fairy.
UPDATE ON TREATMENT: I am happy to report that Mowgli has done fine with the three months of heartworm treatment and is now well and off restricted activity. He has put back on a little bit of his weight and his coat is starting to look glossier. It's nice to be able to let him run around once more and watch him be again playful with the other dogs..
Great news, Anna! :)