Heartworm Medication Part 1: Truths, Omissions and Profits

Written by Jan on May 13, 2009 – 1:00 am

Heartworms are Spread by Mosquitoes. Heartworm Meds are Spread by Fear.

Heartworms are Spread by Mosquitoes. Heartworm Meds are Spread by Fear.

It’s getting warmer outside — time for sellers of heartworm medications to start scaring you to death.Television and print ads, which used to push meds only during warm summer months, now urge you to keep your dog on medication year round. The question is: why the change?

Drs. David Knight and James Lok of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, addressing recommendations for year round meds, warned:  “The practice of some veterinarians to continuously prescribe monthly chemoprophylaxis exaggerates the actual risk of heartworm transmission in most parts of the country and unnecessarily increases the cost of protection to their clients.”

So, is the change to year round meds all about money? Or is there more to this story?

Heartworm “prevention” is a major health decision for pet parents and multi-billion dollar Big Business for drug companies, veterinarians, testing laboratories and on-line sellers of medication. When health intersects money, there’s a lot of room for conflict of interest. Only by understanding the business aspects and the truth about heartworm transmission can you make an informed decision about if, how and when to protect your dog with commercial products.

While everyone agrees that heartworm infestations can be life-threatening, infestation is far from inevitable nor is it the immutable death sentence advertisers would have you believe. (Otherwise, all dogs and cats not on meds would die of infestation. But they don’t.)

Every holistic vet I’ve consulted had concerns about the long-term safety of heartworm medications. Well-known vet, author and columnist Martin Goldstein wrote in his wonderful book The Nature of Animal Healing that he sees heartworms as less epidemic than the “disease-causing toxicity” of heartworm medicine.

Dr. Jeff Levy, vet and homeopath, concluded “that it was not the heartworms that caused disease, but the other factors that damaged the dogs’ health to the point that they could no longer compensate for an otherwise tolerable parasite load.” Those factors include, “… being vaccinated yearly, eating commercial dog food, and getting suppressive drug treatment for other symptoms….”


Heartworm meds do not, by the way, prevent heartworms. They are poisons that kill heartworm larvae (called microfilariae) contracted during the previous 30-45 days (and maybe longer due to what is call the Reach Back Effect).

The heartworm industry authority, The American Heartworm Society (and their cat heartworm site) offers a wealth of information. Their website is a public service but also a marketing tool aimed at buyers and resellers of heartworm meds. Sponsors of this website are a Who’s Who of drug companies. Fort Dodge Animal Health (Wyeth), Merial and Pfizer are “Platinum Sponsors.” Bayer merits Silver. Novartis, Schering-Plough, Virbac and Eli Lilly get Bronze. Most of these companies have sales reps that regularly call on vets and show them how to sell you heartworm meds. With any purchase of any drug, we recommend you ask for information regarding possible adverse effects, the necessity for taking this drug and available alternatives.

How Heartworms Infect Dogs: It’s Not Easy!

Well, now that we’ve looked behind the scenes of the heartworm industry, let’s take a look at how the heartworms themselves (called Dirofilaria immitis) do business. Seven steps must be completed to give your dog a dangerous heartworm infestation:

Step 1: To infect your dog, you need mosquitoes (so you need warm temperatures and standing water). More specifically, you need a hungry female mosquito of an appropriate species. Female mosquitoes act as airborne incubators for premature baby heartworms (called microfilariae). Without the proper mosquito, dogs can’t get heartworms. Period.

That means dogs can’t “catch” heartworms from other dogs or mammals or from dog park lawns. Puppies can’t “catch” heartworms from their mothers and moms can’t pass heartworm immunity to pups.

Step 2: Our hungry mosquito needs access to a dog already infected with sexually mature male and female heartworms that have produced babies.

Step 3: The heartworm babies must be at the L1 stage of development when the mosquito bites the dog and withdraws blood.

Step 4:  Ten to fourteen days later — if the temperature is right –the microfilariae mature inside the mosquito to the infective L3 stage then migrate to the mosquito’s mouth. (Yum!)

Step 5:  Madame mosquito transmits the L3’s to your dog’s skin with a bite. Then, if all conditions are right, the L3’s develop in the skin for three to four months (to the L5 stage) before making their way into your dog’s blood.  But your dog still isn’t doomed.

Step 6:   Only if the dog’s immune system doesn’t rid the dog of these worms do the heartworms develop to adulthood.

Step 7:   It takes approximately six months for the surviving larvae to achieve maturity. At this point, the adult heartworms may produce babies if there are both males and females, but the kiddies will die unless a mosquito carrying L3’s intervenes.  Otherwise, the adults will live several years then die.

In summation, a particular species of mosquito must bite a dog infected with circulating L1 heartworm babies, must carry the babies to stage L3 and then must bite your dog . The adult worms and babies will eventually die off in the dog unless your dog is bitten again!  Oh, and one more thing.

Heartworms Development Requires Sustained Day & Night Weather Above 57˚F

In Step 4 above I wrote that heartworm larvae develop “if the temperature is right.”

The University of Pennsylvania vet school (in a study funded by Merial) found: “Development in the mosquito is temperature dependent, requiring approximately two weeks of temperature at or above 27C (80F). Below a threshold temperature of 14C (57F), development cannot occur, and the cycle will be halted. As a result, transmission is limited to warm months, and duration of the transmission season varies geographically.”

Knight and Lok agree: “In regions where average daily temperatures remain at or below about 62˚F (17˚ C) from late fall to early spring, insufficient heat accumulates to allow maturation of infective larvae in the intermediate host [the mosquito], precluding transmission of the parasite.”

The Washington State University vet school reports that laboratory studies show that maturation of the worms requires “the equivalent of a steady 24-hour daily temperature in excess of 64°F (18°C) for approximately one month.”  In other words, it has to be warm day AND night or development is retarded even if the average temperature is sufficiently warm. They add, that at 80° F, “10 to 14 days are required for development of microfilariae to the infective stage.”

Jerold Theis, DVM, PhD, says, “If the mean monthly temperature is only a few degrees above 14 degrees centigrade [57 degrees F] it can take so many days for infective larvae to develop that the likelihood of the female mosquito living that long is remote.”

I have never found this temperature-dependent information on a website promoting “preventatives,” but only in more scholarly works not easily accessed by the public. There is, as far as I can find, only one mention of temperature on the Heartworm Society (on the canine heartworm page) and none in the Merck/Merial Veterinary Manual site or Merial’s heartworm video — even though Merial funded the UPenn study.

The Society also reports, “Factors affecting the level of risk of heartworm infection include the climate (temperature, humidity), the species of mosquitoes in the area, presence of mosquito breeding areas and presence of animal reservoirs (such as infected dogs or coyotes).”

 Canadians: Please click the link find maps and stats on heartworm in Canada in 2010.  


Read Part 2 of this article: Heartworm Preventative Options Learn how to reduce the number of times you give “preventatives,” about the little-known FDA approved low-dose preventative, and what to do if you don’t want to give meds at all. If you’re considering using the 6-month remedy ProHeart6, please read our previous blog post: Heartworm Protection: Do We Need ProHeart 6? You might also like reading Pesticides & Preventatives Poisoning Pets?

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Please leave us a comment and let us know how your thoughts or questions regarding heartworm prevention.

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Tags: dog, dog heartworm, heart worms, heartworm, heartworm disease, heartworm in dogs, heartworm medication, heartworm medicine, heartworm preventative, heartworm prevention, Heartworms, mosquito, mosquitoes, mosquitos, natural cures, natural preventatives
Posted under Heartworms, Pet Meds | 171 Comments » Email This Post

171 Comments to “Heartworm Medication Part 1: Truths, Omissions and Profits”

  1. Jill Beverly Says:

    Excelleny blog with insightful info I was not aware of. Thank You,
    Mother of two dogs

  2. Jan Says:

    Thanks, Jill. I hope you’ll also check out our other new blog: http://www.blog4dogs.com and our website http://www.dogs4dogs.com

  3. Danielle A. Engle Says:

    A couple of months ago, I took Spirit, a Shih Tzu and former puppy mill momma to the veterinarian. Although I’ve read and “Scared Poopless”, I allowed the veterinarian to convince me that Spirit needed heartwarm medication. As prescribed, I gave her the first dose on May 1st. Shortly after receiving the medicine, Spirit began panting, pacing and exhibiting other unusual behaviors. Within minutes, she developed diarrhea. I monitored and tended her closely for the next 48 hours.

    Upon reviewing Jan and Chiclet’s publications, I an no longer using heartwarm medicine or flea and tick medicine for Spirit or her feline siblings, Lucy and Jazz. Last summer all three of my animal companions exhibited distress after receiving the monthly flea and tick topical medications. The same veterinarian that convinced me of the need for heartwarm medication explained, at my request, the way the topical medications work. However, a review of the ingredients and the warning to keep out of reach of children and pets told me everything I need to know.

    We are using “Neem” shampoo and “Neem” Protect Spray and practice other precautionary measures outlined in the book and articles. If a product isn’t deemed safe for humans, I refuse to use it on my animal companions. Jan and Chiclet, thank you for making the world a safer and more environmentally healthy place for us, our animal companions and others!

  4. Jan Says:

    Danielle, thanks for the kind words about my book. I’d delighted it’s helping your dogs to be poison free. I’ll be posting my recommendations for heartworm “prevention” shortly. One thing: I do recommend at least one heartworm test yearly. Chiclet and Jiggy had theirs on Friday. Although my vet and I believe getting heartworm in San Diego where we live, especially for housedogs that don’t cavort outside during dawn or dusk when mosquitoes prowl, a test is a good safeguard. Please help spread the word about our overuse of poisons.

  5. Lisa Says:

    While over medicating of ourselves and our pets is a problem, I do caution you in your tactics. While you try to say that pages like the heartworm society is only there to promote products and scare people into believing that heartworm is running rampid, You seem to bash them for work they do. Heart worm “IS” a problem. While I agree that it probably doesn’t need to be given 12 months in most states some states have temps of 80 (although my reading says 75) for most of the year. Can you explain to me why then within the last 10 years I have seen a great increase in heartworm prevalance in dogs and have aldo seen in the last 5 years 3 diagnosed necropsies of feline heartworm?? I do agree that a healthy dog is less likely to get infected but that isn’t “always” the case. My samoyed huskey was very healthy, ate homecooked, had an active case of heart worm ? He started coughing and breathing heavy. That is how we found it. Up till then I had never had my dogs on a preventative. Now I do. Tell me then what is your solution to dogs who develop heartworm who also develop symptoms and possible damage? Isn’t preventative better than that? I think also because of the increase in cases that AVMA recommended all year round preventative mostly due to client complience. You can find studies out there which show that only 30% of dogs are on yearly HW meds. Thats a small amount. I feel many vets are more in the thought of lass is more trin of thought to things and others are getting there. A lot of vets do opt for 3 yr vaccines which is better than the old every year thing. I think preventative is a good thing. Used with common sence. If you live in Alaska then sure you probably don’y need it. If you live in Southern Cal or NM and other states, I am not going to get to the naming of each state you might need it in, then it is called for especially during particular times of the year. My last plug is Yearly testing especially if you do not have your dog on a preventative because they will do damage if left there untreated. Thats my peice!

  6. Jan Says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I don’t disagree with much that you’ve written. I do not intend to “bash” the HW Society. But, call me cynical, I do not think that their Big Pharma backers have banded together solely for education. I am especially troubled that they fail to mention that temperature is everything when it comes to transmission (as researchers Knight and Lok state). And that they fail to preach mosquito control — no standing water, no venturing out at dawn and dusk, natural bug sprays, insect zappers. Instead they imply that the only hope is drugs and more drugs, even when the weather is cold and transmission is impossible. And why not educate vets to pay attention to the climate and particular needs in their own area? That is, tell them to recommend year round meds in Florida swamps but only during summer months in cold weather climes? It seems to me that year round recommendations are mostly about money, and also about not respecting the intelligence and reasoning powers of pet “parents.” These meds are not benign. All drugs have side effects. I will address many of your other points in Part 2 of this article. I hope you’ll write again.

  7. melissa smith Says:

    while I will agree in parts of the country where heartworm is non-existent it is a little ridiculous for year round treatment. But as a rescuer who rescues out of the south I cannot stress to you how prevelant heartworm is.

    yes it may be hard to get, as your blog professes, but have no doubt the majority of dogs coming out of the south have it. So obviously heartworms are hardy. I have had rescues DIE from the reprecussions of heartworm. Not the preventative but the disease. People who allow their dog to become infected with heartworm, are not people who are vaccinating, feeding well etc. Sorry they just aren’t.

    If you have watched a dog go through heartworm treatment, and subsequently die from it, then perhaps you can really weigh the pro’s and cons of medicating them and the risks involved.

  8. Jan Says:

    I completely agree, and will discuss in Part 2, that heartworms in the deep South and similar areas present a completely different risk than dogs in many other parts of the country. I’m advocating knowledge and common sense, not turning a blind eye to the danger. That said, infection is not an automatic death warrant. The famous Benji was found in a hot, humid southern shelter and recovered after treatment to become a movie star. Also, no one knows how many dogs die or become ill from taking the medication. I’ll discuss side effects in Part 2 as well. There is, for heartworm, no perfect answer. I’m advocating knowledge, not blind obedience to the marketing. And not FEAR-based decisions. Thanks for your comment. I hope you’ll comment again after Part 2.

  9. judithlauer Says:

    i cannot thank you enough for your honesty i could have had my 16 year old cat pooh around to love a few more years. she had diabetes. at the time te vet shot her up with a combo shot. he could have cared less. in fact when he sot her up he lookek at me and said “animals have no souls you know” this is the truth. i am 63 years and i miss her every single day. thank anything good for your work.

  10. Cathi Bruh Says:

    I agree with Ms. Smith (#7). Here at our Shelter in Northwest Houston, heartworm postive results come on a far-too regular basis. I have a min-pin foster, about 2 years old with medium-heavy heartworms via the Snap test. Since he is a shelter dog, he’s also underweight and has URI and probably has a variety of worms or other parasites. This is the fourth heartworm positive shelter dog on my advocacy list in three weeks.

    Unfortunately, we don’t do chest Xrays to determine how heavy the load is, which could be factored into the possible treatment plans. And we don’t administer any preventive at the Shelter even though dogs in the Adoption Room may be in the Shelter for 3-4 months before finding a home.

    Certainly, people who invest in regular vet care can argue I that preventive heartworm tabs are just another ruse by Big Pharm to make Big Bucks, but try adopting a heartworm-positive dog–especially if the dog is a big, black, pit bull or lab mix.

  11. PwD-SD Says:

    Thank you for all your insight. I always wondered about the why’s especially in the cold climates for the year round heartworm meds. (plus). It never made much sense to me. Personally if you are using natural mosquito deterrent then there really shouldn’t be a reason for these so called drug preventions.

    Cannot wait for the Part 2 to get more educated. Thank you!

  12. Jan Says:

    Thanks PsD-SD. It would be nice to not have to do research for dozens of hours to get to the bottom of these things! Part 2 is about half-written. I hope you’ll sign up at the blog. Please check out my newsletter, just posted a few hours ago. Now that that is out, I can get back to the HW article.

  13. Ann Rugh Says:

    I appreciate the information. It does make me feel that in upstate NY that heartworm is not needed every month. Our vets have advised us that it is NOT needed every month. I had a dog of mixed heritage die from a “normal” dose of Ivermectin. It was awful. I have not wanted to give the medication at all since that time. I wonder now many other dogs have died from it…is it worth the risk? Can the presence of the disease be determined early enough and treated well enough that we could skip it all together? I have read that Ivermectin kills other parasites that could be spread to humans.Which ones? and what is that risk?? Thanks for you info, I will keep studying.

  14. Louise Says:

    Great article Jan, this year I had decided to give my dog HW meds – haven’t the last two years. She tested negative for HW so I had decided to give her a lower dose (as per FDA testing) and watch the temperature as to when to start. The vet gave me nothing but grief for this and I had to sign a waiver absolving them if my dog gets heartworm. Now I am rethinking (again) and not giving the meds – it is a hard decision to make. I would feel awful if my dog got heartworm, at the same time giving my dog a pesticide to ingest seems crazy, would I be willing to take it if the tables were turned?? Probably not! Look forward to part 2!

    Keep up the great work!

  15. Jan Says:

    Heartworm decisions depend on where you live. Until you decide, keep your dog inside at dawn and dusk, eliminate standing water, etc. I hope to put up Part 2 next week. I’m trying to recover from getting my e-newsletter out yesterday. If you haven’t seen it, sign up at Dogs4Dogs.com. And shame on your vet. You are obviously an educated pet parent. The best vets work on compromises that suit both parties and never give clients grief!

  16. Jan Says:

    Ann, the reason it kills other worms that can be potentially be spread to humans is that it contains additional medication. My vet friends believe that you should treat for known problems, not all possibilities, especially when potent chemicals are involved. I personally wouldn’t give it to myself to prevent roundworms, etc. Better to wash your hands when handling poop. Keep studying and so will I.

  17. CiCi Gustafson Says:

    Most of the people I know that show and breed dogs do not give their dog heart worm meds. They choose to do a blood test yearly. I dont believe these meds have been tested and approved for embryos or fetuses or breeding dogs. The same goes for fleas and tick preventive.

  18. Jan Says:

    I agree that it’s unlikely these meds are tested long term for safety. I’ll be writing about adverse effects of heartworm meds in Part 2 of this article. It should be up by June 9th or so. Have you read about all the problems with flea remedies? Check out Pesticides & Preventatives Poisoning Pets?

  19. Robin Says:

    I live in Oregon and use Revolution when we travel with the dog. If we stay in the cool Pacific NW, then I treat her once in the summer and once in early fall. We do not have a problem here but some dogs do bring it with them when the move into the state. My vet, who is better than most pushing pharmacutical products, claims that he tells his clients to use it regularly so they don’t forget to do it in the summer. I’m not sure I buy that arguement.

    I use flea treatments only in the summer and space out the dose. (Revolution counts). In my dog’s 9 years, I have never seen a sign of a flea.


  20. Jan Says:

    Robin, even if I believe your vet’s argument about people forgetting to start heartworm meds, I find it insulting. Also, if vets can send out notices promoting dental cleaning and vaccination (that most adult dogs don’t even need), why can’t they send out a “It’s time to start your heartworm meds” notice? Why take toxic meds year round in a cool-weather state like Oregon? To me, it doesn’t ring true.

  21. Heartworm Preventatives: Safety and Alternatives | Truth4Dogs Says:

    […] Written by Jan on June 16, 2009 – 12:01 am If you haven’t read Part 1 of this article, “Heartworm Medication: Truths, Omissions and Profits,” please read it now unless you completely understand how and when heartworms are transmitted. […]

  22. Deanna Says:

    I live in Southern Florida so I feel that I need to use the medication year round. I know a dog rescue person in the mountains in Georgia and they have winter from November – February with 30 degree highs for weeks, 4 out of the 4 dogs that they had rescued as strays last summer have had heartworm. Wouldn’t that cold weather break the cycle of those dogs contracting heartworm?

  23. Jan Says:

    Heartworm in hot areas Hi Deanna. I understand your feelings about using year round medication, although I hope you’ll investigate giving meds every 45 days rather than monthly. That means only 8 doses of toxic meds instead of 12. Every holistic vet I’ve consulted believes this is just as safe as monthly meds. I’d also take a look at the Safeheart method. Remember, heartworm meds aren’t harmless. None of us knows the long-term health implications. You need to balance risk with reward. I hope you’ll find a knowledgeable vet and discuss this.

    COLD WEATHER AND HEARTWORMS Cold weather means heartworm microfilariae (babies) will not mature inside the mosquito so they can’t grow to the infective stage. In fact, cold weather also kills off mosquitoes. Without mosquitoes, there’s no transmission of heartworm to dogs. In short, sustained cold temperatures prevent dogs from being infected. It does not, however, kill existing adult or immature heartworms already in the dog. Here’s an analogy: you won’t get a sunburn at midnight, but the sunburn you already have won’t suddenly disappear. It’s the same with heartworms.

  24. Sally Walker Says:

    I am so glad I found you. I live in Oakland Ca, adopted a 1 yr old rescue lab from San Jose. He had been on heartworm meds there. Took him to my vet who said not needed in Bay Area, disease not endemic here. Great old vet I loved who’s philosophy was similar to that of the oncologist I worked with (I am an oncology nurse) if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Now have a different vet wants to do everything all the time. Gave me heartgard at our 1st visit which I didn’t use, returned 6 mos later semi convinced me to use it, but still haven’t given it to my dog. Going back soon, needed something more than my gut instinct to discuss with him and here you are! I have a lot of experience with what we call Big Pharma. Talk about selling fear and hope: ain’t nothing like cancer to set those feelings. Many drugs may be useful in certain circumstances but are completely oversold and driving up costs for care with miniscule value, and indcreasing side effects. I want to do right by my dog. Thanks for the valuable info. S

  25. Susan Says:

    Okay, that’s all great BUT my dog in the Northwest was just diagnosed with stage 1 heartworm. Now what? Do you suggest the arsenical “slow kill” treatment? What about the newer but not necessarily agreed upon treatment of using a monthly preventative (plus antibiotics) to take up to two years to kill the worms (but possibility causing pulmonary problems over the longer span)? My vet recommends the first but I’d love some other informed opinions. Thanks.

  26. Jan Says:

    WHAT TO DO IF YOU THINK YOUR DOG HAS HEARTWORM Susan, it’s relatively rare to contract heartworm in the Pacific Northwest. I’m sorry for you and your dog, but don’t panic.

    Dogs survive heartworm all the time. In fact, the current movie star dog Benji is a healthy heartworm survivor many years removed from his life on the streets in a Gulf Coast State. Wild animals live their whole lives with parasites. Parasites don’t want to kill their hosts because they, in turn, will die; they want to co-exist.

    I’m not a vet, but here are some ideas for treatment.

    You’ve had a heartworm antigen test, right?

    Have you given your dog a cardiac ultrasound? My vet recommends it before starting any treatment. If the infestation is mild, you will treat differently than if it is major. Some vets would treat with homeopathy, good food and supplements like Transfer Factor or bovine collagen if the infestation is minor. A single female worm can make an antigen test positive. Everhaving had heartworms, but not having them now, can make an antibody test positive. You can learn more about diagnosis at http://www.heartwormsociety.org/article_11.html

    Third, there’s an interesting video by a vet on heartworm treatment that you should watch. You can fast forward through the commercial beginning to about halfway through. This is about the long-term non-arsenic treatment.

    What would I do if it were my dog? I’d have the cardiac ultrasound and consult a holistic vet. Vets who seem to know a lot about this can be found at http://www.thepetwhisperer.com and http://www.alt4animals.com/ and http://www.homevet.com/ I think they both consult by phone. You can find a holistic vet in your area, or a vet trained in homeopathy, at Find A Vet. I can also highly recommend a vet who treats all sort of hard cases by phone (he treats both my dogs): Dr. W.K. Kruesi at http://www.crvetcenter.com.

    Let me know how it goes. Don’t worry. Learn the facts and then proceed calmly. Remember, your dog will sense your stress and then become worried herself. Think positive and relax.

  27. SusanI. Says:

    Hi Jan,

    I’ve bookmarked this, I found it invaluable, thank you! I adopted a dog late last summer. He had tested negative for heartworm and I’ll have him tested before summer is over. We’re in Connecticut. I made up my mind to go as natural as possible with him. He’s an indoor dog but we walk around the neighborhood, which isn’t near water, etc. When we go outside, it’s after sunrise and we walk before true dusk. I spray him with a spray containing neem and I just bought a big jar of diatomaceous earth. I read the labels on some of these conventional flea/tick/heartworm meds and I won’t use anything on my dog that I won’t use on myself!

    Have him eating GOOD quality dry food (grain free) and have been adding freeze-dried pathogen-free raw food to it, give him distilled water. He had shots before I adopted him; only one he’ll be getting is the legally required rabies every 3 years. I have a local holistic vet- he hasn’t seen him yet but has met him and said based on him having been checked in August, late spring/summer would be fine. I hope we’re on the right page or I may shlep him to see Dr. Marty (Goldstein)

    Friends of mine further scared me, but NOT into going against my instinct. A friend who gave her dog these poisons said he had seizures- yet she still gave it to him. I’m just glad I live up North.

  28. Eva Seekers Says:

    Even though I recently let me vet talk me into rabies and heartworm shot, and I’m watching my baby closely right now, I have NEVER had the need to put ANY flea control on my dog. I live in the DEEP SOUTH(ALABAMA), where flea infestation is a huge problem, my Penny has never had fleas!!!! I swear!!!!! I just wish I had known about the adverse effects of these shots! I wish I had known my girl is probably immune by the age of 10 to these diseases! I made a huge mistake, and hope she doesn’t have to pay for my ignorance! She was even tested for heartworms, (she had never had prevention before) and came back negative! The guy that had her before us, gave her a raw meat diet, which included deer! It must have been the best thing, as she never had any problems in such a pest prone state! I feel now that if a dog is healthy, these pests don’t want to hang around. It’s the weaker ones that they go for. Am I wrong? Please give me any info!

  29. beth Says:

    Ok So I am ready to rant and very happy I found this article. I have had my 2 dogs on heart guard as far back as I can remember sometimes keeping them on it all the time and then all of a sudden the vet comes up with this new thing we have to test the blood before we can prescribe it. I then got a new vet who recomended we try novartis so we then had the blood checked for hw came back negitive. The 2 dogs have been on this for a year to this day since they were tested. and I get my notice from my vet saying if I want to continue novartis I have to bring my dogs in for another blood test to get the pill. They didn’t have it last year and they have been on the stuff ever since. Scam if you ask me.

  30. Amanda, LVT Says:

    One thing that isn’t mentioned here is that a major reason why many vets recommend heartworm prevention yearly is that it also protects against many intestinal parasites that can also be transmitted to humans. Of course, this may be viewed as another scare tactic to you, but if you were the mother of a child with roundworm infection I’m sure you’d have a different point of view.

    I appreciate your stand on the issue but certain statements make you appear less credible. Such as when you say, “I’m not a vet” and “Most of these companies have sales reps that regularly call on vets and show them how to sell you heartworm meds.” If you’re not a vet you shouldn’t be making assumptions about what happens behind the scenes.

  31. Jan Says:

    Hi Amanda. Your point about the meds protecting at risk children is fair, although not all children are at risk, nor are all dogs. Like millions of others, I’ve had dogs all my life, but have never contracted roundworm. My dogs have never had roundworm or heartworm. It is my understanding that you have to add a second poison (pyrantel) to heartworm meds to kill roundworms. Why also give ivermectin (for heartworms) year round when it isn’t needed? We have come to think of infestation and pesticides as inevitable. They are not.

    Also, about my not being a vet: How do you think I get my information? Numerous vet techs and many more vets tell me about the behind the scenes practices. You can’t be saying that drug companies don’t help doctors and vets sell their products. Of course, they do. It’s no secret. This is big business.

    I’m sure you’re on the side of animals, and that’s why you’re a vet tech. Well, so am I. I’m not against vets. I’m against over-medication. I’m sure you are, too. Thanks for your comment.

  32. Amanda, LVT Says:

    Jan, if you owned your own business I’m sure you would like to make a profit. That’s how it works. But that’s not my point. I’m sure we agree that no one should benefit by putting animals in harms way. I think the main argument is whether or not there is more harm done by giving HW meds year-round than not. Unfortunately I don’t think a lot of drug companies are racing to get that research study done.

    I know many dogs that acquire roundworm and other intestinal parasites as adults. Roundworms don’t look at the calendar and say, “I can’t infest this dog–it’s December!” Unlike humans, dogs stick their noses where they don’t below, lick their paws after running around outside, and eat the stool of other animals. Of course, some dogs are more susceptible to these types of parasites than others.

    I agree that HWP is not needed during the winter months. Why give it when it’s not needed? Because it’s more convenient (for the owner, vet and drug company) to combine both meds in one pill. I’m not saying I agree with it but that’s the answer.

    Also, you have to keep in mind that just like human doctors veterinarians are in constant fear of litigation. If they don’t recommend these types of meds and the dog or human becomes infected guess who gets blamed. If an owner declines HW meds at our clinic they have to sign a waiver. Fun stuff.

    Like I said, I do appreciate your stand on the issue but using the term “poison” does irk me a little. It’s a poison for the parasites, not the dog. This is like saying antibiotics are a poison because they kill bacteria.

    You wrote, “While everyone agrees that heartworm infestations can be life-threatening, infestation is far from inevitable nor is it the immutable death sentence advertisers would have you believe. (Otherwise, all dogs and cats not on meds would die of infestation. But they don’t.)”

    You are using the exact same scare tactics by calling these medications “poisons.” If they really were poisons, all dogs and cats would die from taking them. But they don’t.

  33. Jan Says:

    Hi Amanda, thanks for the comment. I don’t disagree with what you wrote.

    Is a pesticide poison for the pest but not the dog? I’m not sure. 46% of dogs not dying of accidental causes now die of cancer. Who’s to say that flea and worm meds aren’t damaging the dog just as small amounts of poison would. Drug safety tests are done for short periods of time, not decades, not even years. Adverse reaction reporting has been estimated by a former FDA head as less than 1%. Does giving a dog this medication month after month, year after year, decade after decade increase the probability that dog will develop cancer? Many vets I know believe it does.

    Why not wait to see if your dog has worms before treating for them? Would YOU take a pesticide every month just in case? I wouldn’t. In fact, I moved from Florida in part because I was allergic to “no-see-ums,” a small sand flea inhabiting beach communities. If I went outside in the evening without covering myself with repellent, I itched for a week. I couldn’t believe the repellent was good for me over time.

    My next article is on the cumulative effect of vaccinations. I’m particularly sensitive to the subject of repeated doses of drugs at the moment.

  34. Mari Says:

    [In another comment Amanda wrote]”Of course, this may be viewed as another scare tactic to you, but if you were the mother of a child with roundworm infection I’m sure you’d have a different point of view.”

    Just to clarify that the roundworm that is toxic to children is the species carried by Raccoons.

    That means all the wormer in the world will not prevent the possibility of a child contracting this deadly form of round worm if you live in area that has a coon population and your child comes in contact with contaminated feces from the coon ( eg playing out side barefoot, in dirt ect )

    I wish people/Vets would clarify this before they make this statement in which strikes major fear into any parent

    I live in Fla. and treat my dogs once every other month and that has worked well for me

  35. Jan Says:

    Hi Mari. Thanks so much for your information on roundworms. It certainly wouldn’t make sense to treat your dog for roundworm in order to protect your child from roundworm if raccoons are the culprit. I’ve had several concerned parents write about this. I’ll refer them to your comment in the future.

  36. Jan Says:

    Amanda, this comment came in on my blog for you: “Just to clarify that the roundworm that is toxic to children is the species carried by Raccoons.

    That means all the wormer in the world will not prevent the possibility of a child contracting this deadly form of round worm if you live in area that has a coon population and your child comes in contact with contaminated feces from the coon ( eg playing out side barefoot, in dirt ect )

    I wish people/Vets would clarify this before they make this statement in which strikes major fear into any parent.

    I live in Fla. and treat my dogs once every other month and that has worked well for me.”

  37. Jason Steele Says:

    Our dogs and cats are contracting cancer like never before, why is that? Perhaps too much garbage pumped in to them like we do humans! Enough with over medicating, period!

  38. Jan Says:

    Hi Jason. Given heartworm meds, arthritis meds, flea meds and over-vaccination, it’s amazing ALL dogs don’t die of cancer. It’s currently just (just)46% of dogs and 39% of cats now.

    Thanks for your comments. Tell your friends!

  39. sue Says:

    I work for an absolutely wonderful allopathic vet and treat my kids homeopathically through an equally wonderful homeopathic vet. The vets I work with are very caring and are somewhat accepting of my homeopathic bent but they are not all about the money, they truly believe in the way they practice medicine as they were trained. I hate the “prescription” diets it breaks my heart whenever an unsuspecting client buys the overpriced crap that they believe will extend thier beloved pets life and I believe will not. I switched to feeding raw food several years ago after losing yet another beloved cat to renal failure. I did everything I believed was right, I vaccinated for everything, fed them a prescription diet as I was taught was the way to a long happy life for my cats. They do recommend the heartworm prevention all year round because they believe that will prevent heartworm as well as intestinal parasites even though it is inhospitable for mosquitoes several months out of the year. Again it is what they have been taught and recommend by the drug companies. More people should take their furry children to homeopathic vets, feed raw food, give less vaccines, less toxins in and out and hopefully give them a longer healthier life. Here ends my rant.

  40. Jan Says:

    Sue, thank you for your informed reply — not a rant at all. I don’t often get comments from people who work for an allopathic vet but treat their pets homeopathically. I wish everyone had such an open mind — including the allopathic vet. Re doing what we’re taught, I was taught be a nice little girl, to always defer to men and not to make waves. I outgrew all of that!

  41. Holly Says:

    Do you have any suggestions on fish oils for the skin? I currently give my girls probotics but have been told by others that fish oils would be a good supplement too! There are so many on the market I just don’t know which ones are the real thing and which ones are just money making gimmics! Thanks.

  42. Jan Says:

    Fish oils are very important for general health as well as the skin. The main thing is to get organic fish oil. Otherwise, it’s made from farmed fish which can be hazardous to your dog’s health. http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2009/02/20/farmed-salmon-in-pet-food-is-it-safe/

    I like Nordic Naturals and Halo’s Dream Coat. halopets.com They’re both available in lots of pet stores.

    I hope this is helpful.

  43. Sara Says:

    We haven’t given our dog heartworm medication in four months, due to financial problems. We live in North Carolina, in a wooded area with lots of mosquitoes though. We tend to be holistic in our family, so this article makes sense to us. We’re wondering though, if we gave her a dose of heartworm medication now after four months, would it kill any heartworms without hurting our dog? We’d like to get her tested, but fear the vet bill.

  44. Jan Says:

    Sara, winter is generally the end of the heartworm season. Check the temps in your area re the article on heartworms. Some vets apparently give hw meds as a way to kill heartworms in an early stage. Others say it’s dangerous. If your dog has been off meds for only 4 months, that’s not long at all. They can’t have matured much. I wish I could tell you what to do. It’s unlikely the test will show anything.

  45. Texas Family Says:

    This page is terrific. We just adopted 2 West Highland Terriers who are brother and sister, 2 years old. They are in excellent health and had been on a monthly Heartworm (Sentinel) medication. Living in Dallas I wonder how oftern I really need to give them the medication. It is warm in late spring and into the fall but plenty cold based on what this blog is saying pertaining to temp and heartworm growth. Any advice please?

  46. Jan Says:

    Hi Texas Family. I’d happy you found my heartworm article interesting. I suggest you read both articles at http://www.truth4dogs.com, follow the links, discuss them with your vet and decide for yourself. Each of us has to make their own decision.

    I hope you’ll read the vaccination articles as well.

  47. Trish Says:

    I found this link that shows on the US map the heartworm clinics reporting incidents. Is this a reputable site…I live where it says 1-5 cases clinic….they push heartworm!


  48. Jan Says:

    Trish, I don’t find any maps, including the identical map on my blog, very useful because the incidence of heartworm can vary in a few miles. To learn about any website, see who is sponsoring it. In this case, it’s a bunch of drug companies. The info may be mostly good, or not, but it does not appear to be unbiased. http://www.capcvet.org/capc/sponsors.html

  49. Trish Says:

    Thanks Jan, I really enjoy reading your site, of course the skeptic in me is cautious because the owner suffers the consequences for the wrong choices. Your site makes sense. That map shows hundreds of miles from severe incidences from where I live….

  50. Jan Says:

    Trish — Don’t forget that temperature has a huge effect on heartworm transmission. It’s pretty cold most places now. Also, I don’t know if you read part 2 of the heartworm articles but there are lots of choices there.

  51. Trish Says:

    Oh my, you have the same map listed here:

    Read Part 2 of this article: Heartworm Preventative Options Learn how to reduce the number of times you give “preventatives,” about the little-known FDA approved low-dose preventative, and what to do if you don’t want to give meds at all.

    That takes you to the same map on that site :-)

  52. Trish Says:

    another question….I’ve tried searching for this answer…can you cut chewable Iverhart plus tables for a dog half the size of the 61-100 pound range….vet won’t give me a straight answer.

  53. Jan Says:

    Trish, you should contact the manufacturer.

  54. Trish Says:

    Thanks Jan

  55. Trish Says:


    Went to get pup shots, Vet said that the “chewable” heartworm cannot be cut in half as they just inject the medicine into the chewable cube. I asked about the Iverheart plus hard tablet, have 51lbs to 100 lbs dog size. Since my dog is 39 lbs I can cut that table into 3/4. Also checked with her on that map that shows 1-5 heatworm cases in my surrounding ara…that map is correct. She stated that the 5 years she has been practicing, she has seen 4-5 cases. Stated there wasn’t a heartworm problem here. Boy I feel so much better!

  56. Julia Stege,D.V.M. Says:

    To clarify the issue of which species of roundworm causes horrible harm to children, it is Toxocara canis, the dog roundworm. It causes visceral larval migrans, which is the condition of having the worms travel through liver, lungs and other organs. It also causes lesions in the retina, which causes irreversible blindness. The raccoon roundworm can actually be fatal to humans. Please don’t refer the unsuspecting public to answers from uneducated lay people regarding the safety of their children. You could do more harm than you think.

  57. Cindy Says:

    First….you can cut the chewables in half…they do not “insert” the medication into each individual pill. Chewable heartworm is “cut” into pieces at the manufacturer. Some pills might contain more of the active ingredient and others less but overall your dog will be getting enough if you cut the pill in half. Second, in theory, you should only have to give your dog a dose of heartworm medication once every 7 months as it takes that long for adult heartworms to grow. I wouldn’t test that theory on my own dog, but if you miss a month don’t worry about it…..and finally…ONLY give your dog heartworm medication during mosquito season and don’t start until the month after mosquito season….hear in the North….that would mean no earlier than May 1 and depending on how cold it is…June 1 could be sufficient.

  58. Charris Says:

    I work in a veterinarians office in western North Carolina and just wanted to let you all know that we diagnosed 5 new casee of heartworm last week. The owners of these animals were devastated and all of them had regrets of not putting their pets on prevention.

  59. Jan Says:

    Charris, I’m sure these people were devastated. It is not my goal to keep people from using heartworm medication or tell them to ignore the problem. But they should know that the medication is not risk free, and in most places, does not need to be used year round. The entire goal of my work is giving people information on which they can make informed choices. I wonder if your practice tells people to use the meds in winter? I wonder if they tell people that transmission is impossible in winter? If they do, bravo!

  60. Gloria S Says:

    I give heartguard plus year round. I have a 3yr that I got from a shelter at approx 1 yrs old . Had her tested for heartworms came back negative, started on heartguard I then got another dog at 8 weeks old started him immediatly. I live in Souther Ca and we camp out all summer in the mountains, lot of mosquitos and stale water often near the fishing area. The temp in the summer 75-105 daily even in the Spring most time is warm. Winter months are generally January-March my vet recommend year round what is your opinion

  61. David Naismith Says:

    I have read that a mosquito lives its life within approximately a few hundred square yards. I live in the middle of the country and there are no dogs within 1000 feet of my house. I see the possibility of a mosquito biting an infected dog or coyote within the small area of my house and then biting my dogs as quite remote. In my childhood our dogs lived 14 to 16 years. I have buried 3 dogs that died of cancer in my adulthood. Why? It has to be the poisons we medicate with and the garbage they sell as dog food. I have switched to a natural flea and ticket deterrent and will test for heart worms twice a year, but not treat it unless I get a positive test. I feel that I have killed my other dogs by listening to the sales reps/vets that only have profits in mind. How can you get an honest answer from a vet when you have to pay them a fortune for meds on every visit? Its their business to sell you that stuff.

  62. Jan Says:

    Hi David. Vets are obligated to inform you about the risks and benefits of any product or medical procedure, but few do. In my experience, it the holistic vets who are most forthcoming. They have become holistic practitioners they question the status quo.

    There’s a list of vets who consider themselves holistic, and others who practice homeopathy, at my website: http://www.dogs4dogs.com/vet

    BTW, many vets are pushing meds for profit. Others, because they don’t trust their clients to be consciencious. A shockingly large group is not up to date on the lastest science. This is particularly true when it comes to vaccination. We have to stay educated and up to date ourselves. Good for you for doing it.

  63. Jan Says:

    Gloria, you know the temperature in your area and have to make your own decision. I personally wouldn’t give my own dogs potentially toxic meds when contracting heartworm is impossible — i.e., during cool weather. Most places in So Cal are chilly Nov – March. I’d also give the meds every 6 weeks rather than monthly. Every vet I know agrees that every six weeks is fine. But it’s up to you. I live in So Cal and don’t give meds at all. I test once to twice yearly and have never had a problem in 10 years.

  64. Tammy Says:

    Thank yo so much for this information. I have a pug who seems to have a sensative system. I was scared by our vet about heart worms, and he sent us home with 6 months doses for all 3 of our dogs, at a pretty good cost I might add.
    He also said we needed to keep them on it year round, even though we have cold winters here.
    I almsot started them on their doses several times since then, but reading the list of side affects always made me stop.
    I was so thankful for this information on this website, and I plan to continue preventative measures for the warm months.
    I’m breathing a sigh of relief that I did not give them that medication, but also know I need to stay vigilant. (Not a problem here.. our dogs are definetly our kids!)
    Many Thanks to you.

  65. Jan Says:

    Tammy, I’m happy my articles on heartworms were useful. I hope you’ll check out the articles on vaccinating adult dogs. Most vets way over-vaccinate! http://www.truth4dogs.com

  66. Tammy Says:

    Thank you Jan. I already did read most everything on this website. This site validated what I had already felt, by previously looking up information.
    For one thing, about rabies vacs..
    And I had had concerns when we took the “kids” to the vet about reactions to the vaccines they were given..
    I guess I feel the same way about my fur-babies as I did my own kids. Except that I trust vets a lot less now. My self a lot more.
    My initial inquiary was just to see if there was any thing out there to validate my concern about giving them the heart worm meds… I didnt think there would be, but I had to look.
    So glad I did look, and found this site.
    I’m a fan of this site.

  67. Bea Says:

    I am so glad I found your website. I feel like I am home. I am trying to be as holistic as I can be with the rest of my family, so it make sense for me do the same for our dog, little Heidi. She is 15 months. My main concern was a vaccination and heartworm medicine. I found a natural product I wantto use called HeartWorm Free, which you can use as a prevention or for an existing problem. I am going to give our dog Shit-zu, a rabies vaccine (it is required in my state) but I will titer test for the Parvovirus & Distemper ( she got them an year ago). When should I do that ? I will give her some of the mentioned homeopathic remedies right after a shot, Thuja – it works with humans as well. Is the 3 year rabies vaccine OK to give ? There is so much information based on fear, and not only in animal world. It is neccesary to seek and learn for ourselves and make an educated decision. Thank you for your website.

  68. Jan Says:

    Hi Bea. I’m unfamiliar with Heartworm Free. I took a quick look at the website. I’d do some real investigation before giving any product to your dog. They said “studies” prove it’s effectiveness and safety. I’d want to read the study and see who paid for it. Remember, just saying something works and is safe doesn’t make it so, although it could be true. I’d want proof. Do they guarantee your vet bills if it doesn’t work?

    Re when to do a titer test, do it at least three weeks after the last shot. http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/category/titertesting/

    Re Thuja, actually Lyssin is the remedy usually used for rabies vaccination. I just wrote an article about making rabies vaccination safer today.

    I’m delighted my website is helpful. Have you visited http://www.dogs4dogs.com as well? Also, please take a look at http://www.dogs4dogs.com/saferpet for our new DVD on vaccination.

  69. Stacy Says:

    I have two dogs, started them on HW prev. from our first vet visit as puppies, gave them the chewable pill, they got diarrhea, thought it was the transition of new food, gave it to them the next month, happened again, I started to worry. Gave it to them the next month (don’t know what I was thinking) well they were running out the door with diarrhea for days. I felt horrible. Called our vet and they told me it was probably the anesthesia from 3 days prior of being neutered. I didn’t feel good with that answer. I told them it happens every time I give the HW prev. they told me that diarrhea is not a side affect. and I should try it again next month. I can’t bring myself to give it to them next month. I am happy to have found this information here on your site, and I continue to research other options. I don’t want sick dogs, I also don’t want to be putting something in them that is hurting them.

  70. Jan Says:

    Stacy, trust your instincts. Your dogs’ intestines are trying to tell you something.

    Call the company that makes the remedy and ask them about side effects and report your problem. Tell them you want to view the product insert. It’s probably on-line. It may also be in the package. Or get it from your vet.

    I don’t like that your vet dismisses the problem so easily. The vet should have called the company himself/herself. Not a good sign of a good vet.

  71. Stacy Says:

    Thank you!

  72. chuck harris Says:

    I live in Orlando, Fl., where the day/night temperatures for six-eight months of the year are in the high 70s. Don’t I need to continue using heartworm medication. I currently use Revolution for flea and heartworm protection.
    Also, your recommendation against bone meal is a little off the mark. Our company cannot grind beef bones so we use KAL organic bone meal for calcium/phosphorus supplementation, a decidedly different and useful form of bone meal.
    Is it possible for you to qualify your comments about bone meal to let pet owners know the difference?
    Thank you.

  73. Jan Says:

    Chuck, hi. It’s not the high temperature, but the low temp, that matters. If I lived in Florida, I’d give heartworm meds every 6 weeks during the hot months and test several months after the last dose. Read my article for details as I’m not a vet. Also, I prefer, as does world-renowned pet care expert Dr. Jean Dodds, that you use products producting against as few parasites as possible. That is, protect against fleas when they’re a problem and against heartworms when they’re a problem.

    Re bone meal: it is not, as you suggest, in itself a bad product. It is the source of the bone meal that’s important. Organic meal is clearly preferable to ground bone from mysterious sources. “Meat and bone meal,” however, is generally a code word for products from unknown sources. As always, it’s the source that matters.

  74. Ashley Says:

    Great article and discussion. So this is my dilemna. My pooch is NOT on heartworm medication here in Colorado, but we are going to the deep South for about a week this winter. Does she need to be on the medicine before her trip??????

  75. Jan Says:

    Ashley, experts say to give heartworm meds 6 weeks AFTER a trip. However … heartworms can’t develop in cold temperatures. Check the temps there before you go.

  76. Heartworm Prevention Says:

    I agree with #5 – Lisa’s comment.

    I understand that you are trying to avoid over medication of pets, however heartworms are a major problem here in Florida. I’ve worked in Veterinary offices for 15 years and seen the devastating effects of dogs that did not receive heartworm prevention. Before heartworm preventatives became a common part of dog maintenance, we would see weekly cases. Now we only see a few cases each quarter (always people that neglected their pets). In the south where there are ALWAYS mosquitoes even in winter – Heartworm Prevention is important!

  77. boreeyah Says:

    hello, and thanks for all the info. thru reasoning of my own and research, including your website i wont be giving my 9week old puppy any heartworm meds untill mosquito season comes around. i also had a question about cutting the meds in half because based on the info that i read in the paper that comes in the heartgaurd box, each chewable contains so many mcg(what is that?) and milligrams of the meds for prevention of worms. it also turns around and says that the reccommended minimum amout of medication is way less than whats in each chewable per 2.72lbs of dog. well, my puppy isnt but 10lbs and growing right now, so based on what they are saying and my calculations, he is being highly overdosed! plus, if my vet is also “worming” him out during his series of puppy shots, what worms is that med for. because the heartworm meds is saying that it is for roundworms and ascarid(what is that) too. so, is he being overdosed on worm meds. this is all so confusing and i just want the best for my puppy. please help

  78. Jan Says:

    Boreeyah, I’m afraid I’m not an expert in parasite control. I do know that I wouldn’t want my puppy getting worm medication and shots within two weeks of each other. The two shots I’d want are parvo and distemper, and nothing else. Go to http://www.dogs4dogs.com/puppy-shots and see what an expert says. However, after the shot at 15 or 16 weeks, I’d wait two weeks then have a parvo/distemper titer test. Learn at this at http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2008/10/22/titer-test/ If your dog has strong titers, I wouldn’t vaccinate again, although some vets want to do it more often. Both shots are know to give immunity for about 9 years, and even for a lifetime.

    Don’t let them give your tiny pup a combo shot. Learn about the dangers of multiple vaccines at once at http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/category/small-dogs/

    I’m told that not all chewable tabs can’t be halved. Read my second article on heartworms for more information.,

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  81. Mike Says:

    I’m glad I found this website and got some other opinions.
    What ticks me off about the vets and “preventive meds” such as heart worm meds is my vet will not refill my prescription order w/o first retesting the dog every year for heart worms? why? If he’s been on it for 2 years and one vet tech tells me, “well they can still get the hw even on the meds” then why bother? I keep frontline plus on my dogs (which are indoor dogs) from march to november. I had been told for years and years that this acts as a mosquito repellent as well. I had a outside spitz that lived for 17 plus years and a pom (inside) that was 2 months shy of 18, neither ever got heart worms or heart worm medications, just the frontline products during the spring till fall. But with my new 2 dogs, that are 95% indoor i went ahead at the Vets insistence and put them on heart worm meds and go thru the BS testing each year, today, i got fed up when they would not fill the heart worm med prescription because it was NOT heart guard but Tri-heart, a generic brand from Dr Fosters and Smith, my vet approved it last year but now says he won’t for two reasons, one i must have my dogs retested every year for heart worms and two, he doesn’t like the generic brand that is 100% the same thing. I as a human take generic medication that most insurance company make drs prescribe if one is available, but here i have a vet that won’t because he’d rather i buy the Heart Guard from his office? I know this is an elective med and my area is not infested with mosquito’s, but vets try to scare the heck out of you to the point you’d feel very bad and guilty if one of your dogs got heart worms. That’s why i got online to see if this is really even necessary to begin with, my opinion, it’s just a money maker in a lot of cases and can do more harm giving my dogs a poison for something they don’t have. As i have read, heart worm meds do not prevent but kill what may already be on your dogs, in most cases, NOT present. I spray for insects around my house and under my deck 3 or 4 times a year to control any mosquitos that may try to take up residence, and i used to treat the yard for fleas as well but VETS once again scared me off that, so the Frontline, even though that is a poison as well, has worked and i have never seen a single flea or tick on my dogs over the years. I think, after my experience with the vet today and those tactics, i may elect NOT to use heart worm “preventive meds” again.

  82. Jan Says:

    Mike, my dogs haven’t been on the heartworm meds for years. I live in a low mosquito/heartworm area. I test once yearly instead.

    Your vet who said he needs to test because the meds may not have worked is, well, not my kind of vet. That’s nuts. Test so you can take the meds and then test in case they don’t work. But here is the thing: most vets assume that we are too stupid or irresponsible to give the meds regularly. And some people are. But then, they also want you to give the meds even when heartworm infection is impossible. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

    Make sure you read part 2 of my heartworm article: http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2009/06/16/heartworm-preventative-options/

  83. Diane Says:

    One possible reason for year round preventive is, unfortunately, money. As I understand it, a dog is tested to make sure they are not heart worm positive prior to being put on the preventative. If they are positive, the sudden die off caused by the preventative can kill the dog. Where I live, the cost of the blood test far exceeds the cost of five or six months of meds one would not be giving during the cooler, non -mosquito months. So year round dosing is less expensive than warm weather dosing with springtime blood work. I am very careful about what my dogs are exposed to, but I will say I am on this site right now because I was researching a gagging cough my dog has developed and it sure sounds as if it may prove to be heart worm or congestive heart failure. I did not give my dogs any preventative this winter, and if I find my girl is positive – I will regret that call forever.

    PS I live in New England where we had a very cold winter.

  84. Jan Says:

    Diane, even dogs on preventatives require the yearly blood test to renew the prescription — in case the medication failed or you didn’t use it properly –so you’re not saving money by giving the “preventative” when it isn’t need. And, of course, the meds aren’t free. Nor are any vet bills caused by a possible drug reaction.

    According to experts, it’s impossible for heartworm larvae to mature in cold weather, so you’re off the hook for any guilt if you had even a cool winter, let alone a cold one. I hope you’ll read my heartworm articles again, especially the first one. And do your own research.

    FYI, there are many vets who cure heartworm infestations by giving the preventative after the fact. You’ll find info about that on-line.

    Re the cough, see your vet. It could be, and probably IS, something else. In any event, it’s probably treatable. The sooner you go, the better.

    I’m not a vet, so don’t trust me. Unlike a vet (or drug manufacturer), I have no monetary interest in your decision. I just report what experts say. Investigate and trust yourself.

  85. Sabrina Says:

    was going to put him on HW medication but not after reading this. I will just have him tested 2x a year. He eats pretty much organic so I am very glad read all the comments above!
    What about Flea medications…i live in San Diego, my dog is mostly indoor. Can you give the flea medication ( he takes Comforits) every other month? Should i give it to him only in the summer time? Is there an natural flea medication…for example are the topical cream kind you safer than the pill?

  86. Heidi Says:

    Thank you for the article and lively discussion on this important topic.

    Did anybody observe side effects of these oral monthly drugs? I’ve seen vomiting and hives with extreme itching.
    Of course, I can’t be sure because the animals also received a rabies shot at about the same time as the preventative was fist given.

    P.S.: Fish oil: In the US, there is no organic fish oil (fish isn’t certified organic in the US). Sardines and Trout are rich in whole fish oil (it comes with protein :-).

  87. Heidi Says:

    Flea medication (Sabrina): I still stand my woman against this one; although it can be hard without quick fix med. I am glad we don’t have carpets, so this makes it somewhat easier. We don’t let our dogs sniff around too much on our walks. We wash their paws (and noses if they let us) after the walks; we bath them at least once a week with neem, and make the living environment unpleasant for fleas. I use the flea comb a lot; fortunately, our dogs are small and their fur isn’t too long. The ASPCA has a list of alternatives to the chemical flea products. It’s amazing that even most alternatives can be problematic (even neem). They recommend the flea comb and a lot of environmental care (cleaning).

    Sabrina, I’m also in San Diego! Where we live (University Heights) I only heard 2 mosquitos 2 months ago – Fortunately, they bit me and therefore, hopefully left the hairy guys alone.

    Back to heartworm medicine and potential side effects hives and itching (and vomiting): Can anybody recommend a good holistic way to help here?

  88. Heidi Says:

    (I try this again):
    Did anybody see any of the following side effects of heart worm medication in their own dogs?

    I may have: vomiting (never happened since they outgrew the small puppy stage with all those avccinations), extreme itching and even blister-like red skin irritations in one animal.

    I asked recently in a post that wasn’t approved (?) if anybody had an idea how to best remedy such skin irritation.

    Meanwhile, I seemed to have found the correct homeopathic remedy for this problem (Rhus tox.) It worked within a few hours and I keep giving it now the second day every few hours to get rid of the last slightly pinker than normal spots (they were bright red before giving the remedy) and the last bouts of now only moderate itching.

    I also tried to respond to Sabrina’s questions about fleas. I think it’s a good idea to see what the ASPCA site says about the pharmaceutical but also alternative flea remedies (I think it’s always better to know than to be surprised) and their advice to keep it clean (vacuuming the environment and to use the flea comb a lot).

  89. Jan Says:

    Heidi, your dog’s reaction — vomiting and hives — may well have been a reaction to the vaccine, although either is possible. They should NOT have been given at the same time, for this reason and for the overload. Be sure to tell your vet. It is likely your dog has problems with the vaccine. It needs to be noted in his/her file. You may want to apply for an exemption next time around.

  90. Jan Says:

    Heidi, are you looking for a reaction to the shot? If so, you need to see a vet. If a reaction to the heartworm meds, stop giving it. I haven’t used it for years. It’s too cool here most of the time and mosquitoes are few. You read my article?

    In general, look to homeopathy for a holistic remedy. See a pro (I can recommend some) or consult a knowledgeable person at your health food store.

  91. Jen Says:

    I am so happy to read this. My vet kept giving my puppy heartworm meds (after being tested and negative for them via blood work), and my poor pup would get sick and vomit EVERY TIME. I got sick of paying for it (25bux a shot, and one month 4 times!! UGH) and just decided not to give it to him.

    Thank you so much!

  92. Heartworm medication safety - Golden Retrievers : Golden Retriever Dog Forums Says:

    […] how old your dogs are? I'm nervous about the whole flea and heartworm causing health problems. Heartworm Medication: Is Year Round Protection Necessary? | Truth4Dogs __________________ http://www.ffur.com Remove AdvertisementsSponsored Links Golden […]

  93. mark beason Says:

    I live in Mississippi … the heart of the Heartworm Belt. Around here it is not if, but when you dog gets heartworms – unless you do something.
    My family has been breeding/training hunting dogs since 1928, so it’s safe to say I’ve been around it for a long time. We have been using Ivermectin (a cattle wormer) for about as long as I can remember. Each dog gets 1/10 of a CC per 10 pounds every month. Knock on wood none of mine have ever tested positive for heartworms and I haven’t seen any side effects.
    I’m always amazed what some of our dogs are able to do. I’ve seen them run 20 miles in the hills during snow storms. Both physically and mentally they love to please and they dearly love to be out doing what they were bred to do. I work hard to keep my dogs in peak physical condition. They work hard for me, so likewise I work hard to keep them healthy. Each dog gets a fish oil pill every day and I give them a high quality feed.
    I found this site to be very informative and look forward to checking it often.

  94. Alex (Vet Tech Major) Says:

    Toxocara canis (the ascarid or roundworm) is zoonotic and causes visceral larva migrans in humans.

    Baylisascaris procyonis (the raccoon ascarid or roundworm) is also zoonotic and causes visceral larva migrans, ocular larva migrans, and neural larva migrans. It can cause CNS (central nervous system) damage.

    I took animal parasitology in the winter in Buffalo, NY, and we saw fresh samples with nematode infestations.

    Ascarids, whipworms, and hookworms are especially difficult to kill in the environment. Which is why zoonoses happen.

    As for heartworm prevention, owners should discuss the risks and benefits with their veterinarians. The preventative is very attractive because the adulticide treatment is dangerous and really expensive (over $1000). Supportive care is required because of the adverse effects of dead worms. All dogs will have side effects. Heartworms really aren’t easy to treat.

    Right now, the adulticide is no longer being manufactured, and what vets have on hand is it. http://www.heartwormsociety.org/UrgentAlert-8-9-11.pdf

    Again, this is something you have to take into consideration when deciding whether or not to put your dog on a heartworm preventative. Or any medication or treatment for that matter.

    I do commend the author on the idea of making informed decisions for our animals.

  95. Alex (Vet Tech Major) Says:

    I think it is also important to stress prevention by control of mosquitoes in the environment, which we did learn in our parasitology class.

    Heartworm infection is asymptomatic in the early stages, so by the time that patients present with symptoms, the disease has progressed and is more dangerous to the dog. Left untreated, the disease can cause severe heart disease and lead to congestive heart failure.

  96. Godaddy hosting promo code Says:

    Hiya, I’m really glad I’ve found this information. Nowadays bloggers publish only about gossips and web and this is really irritating. A good website with interesting content, that’s what I need. Thanks for keeping this website, I’ll be visiting it. Do you do newsletters? Cant find it.

  97. Jan Says:

    Hi. Yes I do have a newsletter. Sign up at http://www.dogs4dogs.com/signup I offer holistic health tips for dogs. I haven’t published one recently but will soon. Thanks for asking.

  98. heartworm shot? - German Shepherd Dog Forums Says:

    […] Typically the cure for this is a dose of ivermectin. This is a good site for information… Heartworm Medication: Is Year Round Protection Necessary? | Truth4Dogs Personally, I do not give my dogs heartworm preventative once a month. Once temperatures (in my […]

  99. Laura Says:

    Have been giving my 10.5 year old lab mix Interceptor for years now – during the summer months. Gave him a dose on Saturday mid day and by mid night he was vomiting. He was up all night after initial vomit with smaller vomiting episodes. Sun morning fed him half usual amount of food and he vomited again. Let his stomach rest – no more food for 24 hours. Sunday vomited a bit of bile and phlem throughout the day and evening. Gave food (rice and bioled chicken) on Monday in small amounts throughout day and he tolerated it. Monday night he vomited up bile and phlem in small amount one time (2:30am). Gave rice and a bit of kibble on Tues in small amounts thruout day and he again tolerated it. Tues night (2:30 am again) vomited up small amount of bile and phlem again. Wed. morning gave rice and kibble – he spit out rice and only wanted the kibble – but tolerated it well. Should I be worried that he is still vomiting up some bile and phlem during the night? Seems like his stomach is empty then and he has a sour stomach. Any thoughts or advice????

  100. Jan Says:

    Laura, yes, I would be worried. That’s a long time to be vomiting and can cause dehydration. My advice is to tell your vet and also call the heartworm med manufacturer. They need to know about the reaction. I would ask them to pay for treatment. Maybe they’ll also have suggestions about what to do now. Also report it here. http://www.avma.org/animal_health/reporting_adverse_events.asp#owners

    FYI, if it were my dog, I wouldn’t give the medication again. Read Part 2 of my heartworm prevention article for suggestions. http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2009/06/16/heartworm-preventative-options/

    Nor would I do anything else to stress his system. At his age, it’s unlikely he needs more vaccinations, and certainly not anything soon. Please read this about unnecessary vaccines.

  101. Beth Says:

    If you choose not to give your dog heartworm preventative, I hope you understand the risk you are taking. The drugs used to treat heartworm infection (FYI: “infestation” is the term for ectoparasites, not endoparasites) cost hundreds of dollars and are essentially thousands of times more poisonous than heartworm preventative. Immiticide is an arsenic based compound that must be injected in the the muscles of the lumbar (lower back) region. It also requires your pet to be crated for weeks at time while undergoing treatment. It is very dangerous and very expensive.

    Furthermore, as stated above, heartworm preventatives also prevent many other intestinal parasites, many of which are transmissible to humans. And if you think your dog isn’t at risk for intestinal parasites, you’re mistaken. Internal parasites can be carried (by squirrels, mice, chipmunks, etc) and shed (via feces) into your back yard or neighborhood. So when you take your dog for a walk, she accidentally steps in it. Then she comes in and and cleans her feet and ingests the ova (eggs) of parasites. I’m a veterinary student and I have my dogs on heartworm preventative religiously, yet I still had one of them become infected with tapeworms (not prevented by heartworm preventatives).

    The reason your vet requires heartworm test every year is because the dog must be negative for heartworm infection before heartworm preventative can be administered. If your dog is infected with heartworms and preventative is given, an adverse anaphylactic reaction can occur as a result of mass killing of microfilaria.

    All of the protocols recommended by your veterinarian are approved by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Believe it or not, not every vet is out to scam the public. People don’t enter this profession to get rich. If that was the case, we would all go to medical school (only one species and about 2-3X more money). I hope, for the sake of all of your pets, that you understand vaccines and heartworm preventative are in the best interest of your pet.

  102. Sherri Says:

    Thank you for posting this.. I am so not into taking medicines for everything.. Its all about money.. Specially chemical made meds.. I took my puppy to vet first visit they tried to sale me Flea meds.. Said not thanks, I have had my other dog 13 not a single flea..she was amazed.. Now today they are trying to get my puppy on heartworm meds.. I said no right away.. did some research found your site and glad i said no… Thanks again…

  103. Jan Says:

    Sherri, good for you for being a responsible pet parent. Just a reminder: if you’re not giving meds you should get your dog tested once or twice a year, depending on the incidence of heart worm in your area.

  104. Karen Says:

    Thanks so much for the information you share in your website. I have a 10 yr old dog that is paralyzed from the waist down, and I it was only a week or two after she received her last round of shots last year. Now surgery will be $7,500 which I can not afford. I also have a cat that had an extreme reaction to the topical flea medication and lost all of her hair and has seizures. This website has helped me decipher between fact and fiction and the reality of what these vaccination and pesticides are doing to our pets. I wonder what humans would be like if we had to get shots every year and receive monthly ingestions of pesticides? Cancer rates are so high in the US due to carcinogens and pollutants and we are doing the same things to our beloved pets.

  105. Kristin Says:

    thank you fir this article I liv in Virginia and they say that HW is a huge problem here… my two chi girls jabs been off of it for almost a month and I was scared to get the tested but this makes me feel so much better! :)

  106. Jan Says:

    Karen, I suggest you contact a homeopathic veterinarian. Find a link to referrals at http://www.dogs4dogs.com/vet Homeopathy might help. I don’t understand why surgery would. And homeopathy is inexpensive. If you can’t find a vet in your area, write me again.

    Also, get your dog’s file and contact the vaccine manufacturer(s) and tell them about the reaction, giving brand, serial #, lot #, etc. They’ll have to report it to the USDA and may help pay for your dog’s medical care. Read more here: http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2010/12/02/what-to-do-when-your-dog-has-a-vaccine-reaction/

    I’d give your vet hell. Why would he/she vaccinate a 10-year-old dog? http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2009/04/22/no-unnecessary-dog-shots/

    I wish you and your dog the best of luck. Don’t give up!

  107. Jan Says:

    Kristin, the time to test for heartworms is 6 weeks after you’ve had the last continuous warm weather and after you’ve been off medication.

  108. Karen Says:

    All very interesting posts, however my 11 year old mini dachshund went into heart failure last spring because of heartworms, she survived an injection of immiticide but was very hard on her. Immiticide then became in short supply and now its Nov. She has been on doxycycline for 1 month and heartgard for 7 months. I am hesitant to give her 2nd shot of immiticide, but she has a significant heart murmur, and worms need to be destroyed. What a mess, we live in extremely hot climate in summer, now temps are below 40 at night. Any feedback regarding final immiticide injection? Thanks, Karen

  109. Jan Says:

    Karen, I’m not an expert on this subject. I do know that there are holistic vets who treat heartworms in a more natural way. Find referral list at http://www.dogs4dogs.com/vet I wish you the best of luck.

  110. Bettina Says:

    Hello, what an interesting blog site. I’ve had 4 border collies over the last 30 years. Sonya was around when heartworm med was never pushed, living in OK we have mosquitos and she was outside, went to the park, neighborhood, and never got heartworm..living to a ripe age of 14. When I had 3 BC’s all were on heartworm and it (as well as the testing) was a financial strain …the male still got heartworm, and it was almost 200 to treat. He and one female have passed on from old age. My last BC, Dottie, I took off heartworm. She passed on this last summer from old age at the age of 14.5. I just rescued an adult BC/Lab mix and have no intention of dealing with heartworm or lots of medicines. Basic immunizations will be kept, regular bathing, yard control and quality of life will be utmost. The number of tests and medications for animals is fast approaching the number for humans and instead of addressing causes and environment, we pre-address an assumed illness/disease. Thanks for the site, pharmaceuticals are chemicals…and should be used wisely if needed.

  111. Jan Says:

    Bettina, I have two thoughts. 1) Regarding “basic immunizations,” please read Vaccinating Dogs: 10 Steps to Eliminating Unnecessary Shots at http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2009/04/22/no-unnecessary-dog-shots/ 2) Re heartworm, OKLA is heartworm country. If you choose not to give meds, please get the blood test at least yearly, at the end of the season. You might want to read Part 2 of my heartworm article: http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2009/06/16/heartworm-preventative-options/

    You’ve evidently been doing a lot right. Good luck in the future with all your dogs.

    PS Re your dog who got heartworm on the meds. If you gave them on time, and bought them from a vet, the medication maker should have paid your dog’s medical bills.

  112. Melissa H Says:

    Very good blog which prompts me to ask a couple of questions. I have a part toy part miniture poodle she is 4 yrs old. We have a hell of a time as she is allergic to fleas, and also alot of the flea medication. We finally have her ok with the medication but she is always biting scratching she does not have fleas i check her everyday but during the months she does not get the medication on she bites and scratches till she bleeds. She has very sensitive skin and we dont know how to make her stop except ask for 12month flea stuff.Can you give some advice so my little girl doesnt hurt herself.

  113. Jan Says:

    Melissa, you have been led down the path of treating the symptoms, not the cause. Why is your dog so reactive? Does she have other allergies? Food allergies, perhaps?

    You need a vet who specializes in holistic medicine to find out what’s going on. Remember, when you suppress symptoms, the problems just turn up elsewhere. I can’t think of anything worse than a 12-month flea med. Would you take it yourself? And how could she have the same symptoms when NOT taking flea medicine?

    There are referral lists for holistic and homeopathic vets at http://www.dogs4dogs.com/vets I can also refer you to vets who consult over the phone.

    Flea meds are serious medicine. Please see a vet who will look for the cause.
    I hope this helps.

  114. Is it ok to skip heartworm preventive? - Page 2 Says:

    […] to develop that the likelihood of the female mosquito living that long is remote.” source: Heartworm Medication: Is Year Round Protection Necessary? | Truth4Dogs I am not trying to persuade anyone one way or another and I admit I get sort of scared not to […]

  115. Melissa Holmes Says:

    Hello Jan I think you were right we were giving her Ceasar wet for small dogs. I looked all over online and it says alot of dogs have allergies to it. I assume she was there were 30+ black spots on her body and she just scratched when she was awake. I changed her food about a month ago and i just gave her bath last week and most of the black spots are gone and she isnt scratching or dragging her bum anymore. So for know ive fixed her but i might get the list from you closer to flea time as she is allergic to the fleas and also allergic to the medicine to get rid of the fleas however we changed vets last year and we did not seem to have a problem with the medication so knock on wood fingers crossed it will be ok thisn year. Shes hypoallergic so her skin is super sensitive.. thank you for you help my dog missy thanks you too..

  116. Debra Says:

    I have a new Berner pup and I am finding vets to NOT be accomadating to my research into over vaccination and heartworm prevention. It’s amazing what they want to pump into these creatures. Even vets listed as ‘holistic’ are reading from the script of treatments. Seems if they add the words accupuncture or chiropractic care to their services it makes them holistic. It use to be buyer beware, now it’s owner beware and be protective of our furry loved ones.

  117. Jan Says:

    Debra, you’re so right. I have started writing an article making that very point. Acupuncture and chiro certification can just mean they took one course and do everything else alopathically. Or maybe they’re on a journey. Have you checked the referral lists at http://www.dogs4dogs.com/vets ? If you write back telling me where you live, I may have some suggestions.

  118. Karen Pluta Says:

    Jan – thank you for all this information. While my vet fully supports our raw fed diet for our 5 yr old Lab, he will still attempts to push heartworm meds and tick prevention. We did use both on Keb last summer, but no longer, especially the tick prevention because it did nothing to keep them off of Keb nor did it kill them, we were always removing them alive. I would much rather pay for blood testing (annual or bi-annual) than to spend the $$ on these so-called preventatives.

  119. Heartworm Medication Part 2: Options to Fear-Based Recommendations Says:

    […] profit-driven, lazy medicine.Take a look at the map above, courtesy of the  Heartworm Society.  Part 1 of this article demonstrated that transmission is heat and mosquito dependent.   As expected, […]

  120. Earl Says:

    This is excellent information. Wish the gal at the Wake Co. SPCA knew this. She lectured on the use of monthly preventatives and her concern for me on the financial burdens if my dog developed them. I was there to adopt a cat and I guess I looked poor.

  121. Alan Says:

    Great report, and I agree.

    Our vets here in Oz push every type of med on the average pet without researching into the pet’s circumstances.

    After being asked by my vet to have my Border Collie put on an annual heartworm injection, I then asked him how many cases had he seen where a dog had heartworm. He said none recently.

    I went home and rang another local vet and asked them what do they recommend for heartworm preventative. They said the annual. I then asked how many dogs come in with heartworm. They said, “None”.

    Rang another. Said there had been some “through the years” but none recently. Says that the ones who do have it simply die at home. I find that hard to believe. So no one brings their sick dog in? Oh, they also recommend the annual. I asked isn’t that over doing it a bit? They said its a pill like injection that sits in the fat layer and slowly releases. Interesting.

    And another. This vet was more frank stating they have not seen a heartworm case at the clinic or heard of one in this area. They agreed with me that it probably wasn’t needed.

    Now I know these results may be because everyone is taking preventatives, but if its not prevalent, why should I be injecting poison into my dog to kill a parasite which appears non-existant in my area?

    Then again, if no one uses preventatives will it then be prevalent? I don’t think many used preventatives in my area in the 60s, and our family farm had many dogs through the times. All lived healthy long lived lives and no one ever heard of giving heartworm medication.

    What I want to know is why the rise of canine cancer in the past 10 years? We never saw this previously. Maybe something to do with the other meds we give our dogs such as intestinal worming? Or is it hidden ingredients in the dog food? Ingredients which we also eat which accounts to the rise in human cancers of late?

  122. Jan Says:

    Alan, good for you for doing the research.

    Why so much cancer? I think the prime cause is the over-use of vaccines. Also, unnecessary “pet meds.” Also, chemicals on yards. And terrible pet food — especially corn laden foods. Add them all together and cancer seems all but inevitable.

    Thanks for posting.

  123. Do dogs need Heartworm meds in Reno? - City-Data Forum Says:

    […] searching the net provides a lot of very interesting info on the subject. According to this Heartworm Medication: Is Year Round Protection Necessary? | Truth4Dogs Seems there's a lot of FUD surrounding heartworm meds. I'll be watching this […]

  124. Stephanie Z. Says:

    Hi Jan: I’m working with a holistic vet in Solana Beach, CA. I’m trying to get as much info as possible – I do worry, but I’m heeding her suggestions. I have a 10-month old Bichon puppy – Hasn’t had 2nd set of vaccinations, no rabies as yet (she suggested I wait until he’s a year old), not neutured yet, but will do in a month or so. Can I have the vet who neuters him give him a titer test at the same time – because he fights like crazy when the holistic vet tries to draw blood.
    I’m feeding him Perfect Pet dog food – which he seems to be thriving on – amI doing OK? Thanks for your fabulous and valuable info.

  125. Don Says:

    I read that black walnut hulls (ground) are an excellent cure for worms of most kinds in dogs and cats. I’ve even taken them for myself!

    I had a hound dog that developed heart worm symptoms, coughing and loss of weight. I started giving her the black walnut hull capsules, 1 capsule twice a day. Her symptoms did not get any worse and she lived for two years after I started that treatment. She may have lived longer, I don’t know, she disappeared, maybe got hit by a car as she was prone to wonder the countryside.

    On the other hand, I had a Collie who received the heart worm medicine monthly in warm months (April through November) and she developed severe arthritis at age 12 and at age 13 she had to be put to sleep.

    I just ordered the generic version of Heart Gard for my golden retriever, but will not give her the pills all year, just in the warm months. I wouldn’t give her the pills at all except my wife insists on it. I would treat her once a month with the black walnut hulls, but then, I have to keep peace in the family.

  126. Sam, Veterinary Student Says:

    Jan, I noticed you do a great job responding to comments that agree with you and systemically ignore those by people with actual qualifications that point out the issues with your recommendations (eg Beth the veterinary student and Julia the DVM). Immiticide is dangerous and expensive, and so is heartworm infection. It is dangerous and illegal to make treatment recommendations to people online and may constitute practicing veterinary medicine without a license. Many comments on here are based on logical fallacies (attributing an adverse reaction to a vaccine or drug based on temporal association without evidence of causation). I am a proponent of judicious vaccination and use of preventative drugs, but I feel that people vastly underestimate the danger of heartworm and other infectious diseases because of their lack of experience with them. Ivermectin is an incredibly safe drug, even for dogs that are MDR1 mutant homozygous, at the doses in heartworm preventative. Feel free to risk your own dogs’ lives, but don’t spread misinformation without an understanding of the risks.

  127. Jan Says:

    Sam, numerous vets have read and approved my articles. Many are written by vets. Everything is based on expert information. If you have a specific complaint about misinformation, please send it with validating written evidence from an expert source with no conflict of interest. If I’ve mistated something, I will rectify it immediately. I don’t make money doing this. It is a labor of love to try to help people.

    BTW, I have to approve all comments and could have just deleted any of them if I had some hidden agenda.

    Also, I have found that vet students and techs are generally the last to know the truth as their education is often based in propaganda from drug companies. Have you vetted the source of your information for a conflict of interest? Harvard medical students have filed complaints about this. Conflicts of interest are not often disclosed.

    Also, have I recently talked with a number of students who said they know almost nothing about vaccination; they plan to learn it when they go to work at a clinic. Dr. Ron Schultz, one of the world’s top experts, has stated the lack of good education on vaccinology is alarming.

    Here’s an article that’s a complilation of comments from vets about what they learned in vet school. http://truth4pets.org/2012/06/vets-on-vaccines/ I do not mean this to be a criticism of you or your school. But all is not what it seems.

    Have you seen our new video on pet vaccine reactions? And our new all-vaccination-info website? It is all evidence-based information. I hope you’ll take a look. http://truth4pets.org/2012/07/vaccine-reactions/

  128. Sam, Veterinary Student Says:

    Since I’m also currently a PhD student, yes I am quite educated about how to read primary literature and to evaluate the quality of studies. One of the first things taught is that anecdotes are not evidence. For example, some of the comments mention adverse events that occur after administration of a drug. While, certainly, adverse reactions are possible, we don’t know if the drug caused these problems. If the reported problems were not seen during studies of hundreds or thousands of dogs, it’s unlikely that the drug directly caused these clinical signs.

    Additionally, you state that heartworm medications kill intestinal parasites because they contain additional medications. In fact, just ivermectin intself kills roundworms and whipworms as well as the mites that cause sarcoptic mange. So there is one bit of misinformation.

    You also stated that heartworm medication and vaccines should not be given together. While there is evidence of more reactions occurring in animals given multiple vaccines in one visit, there is no research of which I am aware that shows any increase in adverse events when giving ivermectin together with a vaccination. In fact, the amount of antigen in each vaccine is hundreds of times smaller than the amount your immune system is presented with each time you consume a meal. As you know, typically it is the carrier or the adjuvant aspect of the vaccine that the animal is likely to react to, and thus giving a non-adjuvanted vaccine to an animal is quite safe even in conjunction with ivermectin.

    I am also an advocate of, as I said, judicious vaccination, which to me includes appropriate protection of puppies and one booster vaccine, followed by titering if desired. The vast majority of animals that are protected at one year of age will also be protected 7+ years later, as Schultz’s lab has shown. I am very familiar with vaccine literature and with potential adverse reactions.

    You also say that you believe over-vaccination causes cancer. Do you have any evidence or peer-reviewed journals linking vaccination to common cancers such as lymphoma or hemangiosarcoma? To my knowledge, no neoplasia besides injection site fibrosarcoma has been definitively linked to vaccination. One could easily argue that prevention of infectious diseases has led to longer lifespans in companion animals and thus a higher incidence of neoplasia as animals now rarely die of infectious disease. Do you have evidence that “corn based diets” cause cancer? Unless you do, this is also misinformation that you are spreading. If you do, please provide evidence. I don’t disagree that carb-heavy diets are not ideal, but to jump to them causing cancer is not scientifically valid.

    My school provided significant training in immunology (an entire immunology course) and vaccinology, including information on DOI studies, safety testing, appropriate vaccination intervals in puppies and why these intervals were chosen. Vets also have access to continuing education and are free to contact researchers or companies directly if they have questions about science or about product testing.

  129. Brenda Says:

    My husband and I have four dogs. We believe in adopting animals from the Humane Society and if we can, take in a stray and hungry animal. But, we recently are having a hard time financially, and can no longer buy heartworm pills for our four dogs. Our dogs have been on the heartworm pills since they were pups.

    We just got a note from our vet that it is time for their heartworm blood tests; that will cost us $125.00. Then, we have to purchase a 6-month box of heartworm pills for each dog which will cost us: $200.00.

    I can’t afford for myself to go to the doctor and pay this much?!

    I believe there will come a time when having a pet will only be for the rich! And those who are poor and have a pet will just have to take their chances and see how long their pet will live without these tests and meds!!! Although, I can only pray, and ask God to look after my dogs. My son is grown, but needs to go to the doctor; and if I did have $300.00 to give, then I believe my priority would be to take care of my son’s medical issues.

    Why can’t something be done to stop these outrageous prices of vet bills and medications so we can keep our pets healthy??

    Taking a pet to the Vet will only be for the rich in the future if things don’t change!!!

  130. Jan Says:

    Brenda, if you read my two articles on heartworms, you may have part of your solution. For one thing, heartworm isn’t a problem in cold weather. Did you read my article Part 2? There are alternatives there.

    Are you paying lots for vaccinations? People spend a fortune on unnecessary shots and the reactions the cause. Please read this: http://truth4pets.org/question-before-vaccination/

    Remember: an ounce of prevention may be worth a pound of cure, but unnecessary “preventative” medicines can be terribly expensive.

  131. Shay Says:

    @Brenda – I am in a similar situation and now have 7 dogs (all but one 65+ lbs with our biggest @ 165lbs) so they would take a TON of meds if we continue to give all the ones recommended. All but two of my pups were rescued (1 German Shepherd, 3 pit bulls, and 1 Norfolk Terrier). The dogs I actually meant to have are my Bullmastiff and Eng. Mastiff… the other 5 just kinda joined us over the last 5 or so years :)

    I haven’t bought the heartworm meds from my vet in a while because it’s about $50 a box for 6 mo @ 51-100 lbs – I was spending about $400 per 6 months. I ordered last time from drsfostersmith and it was half the price for the same product.

    I got to this site since I have been contemplating reducing how often I give this to my dogs since it is very expensive. I live in Phoenix, AZ where the winter months can be from 30 deg to 80 deg from week to week and 90 deg to 120 deg in the summer. I might give them the meds from May 1 to Sept 1 and test in April instead of monthly. I need to find out how much the test is x 7 dogs though.

    Also looking into given shots to my dogs myself and after looking at various information (including this site), I think I will only do that every 3 years which seems to be the current recommendation for most vaccines excepting bordetella which is annually (or more in high risk areas). I currently take all of them to the vet once every 6 months for a complete physical, but this is also becoming too costly and ends up costing me about $200 per month if I divide it up from the previous year (so about $300 per dog per year). They seem to get the same couple of shots every year. I still plan on doing this, but only having the vet do things I can’t do like a physical and blood work and I plan on changing vets to save some money.

    I do tire of my current vet always suggesting various tests or meds, which I personally think they do to cover themselves for liability more than anything. If I decline, I don’t get much push back (anymore). I’m trying out a new vet now since where I currently have been taking my dogs for probably 10 years now keeps changing vets which is annoying. The new vet I found is about half the price for various items such as x-rays, meds, visits, etc (it’s a shelter vet). My Shepherd has hip displaysia real bad so he’s on rimadyl pretty much constantly; rescued him when he was a wee pup (maybe 8 weeks old) from some crazy lady with like 40 dogs (mass breeder type). He had giardia real bad and had to have 14″ of his intestine removed at a young age ($1300 vet bill).

    On another note, does anyone have good information on the use of glucosamine as a supplement and if it’s worth it (as in if I give it will it slow/prevent/have no effect on things like hip displaysia)? It probably won’t help my Shepherd since he’s pretty far gone according to his x-ray last week, but the other dogs might benefit (most of them are 5-6 yrs old, with two of them being 2-3 years old). Vet said my Shepherd needs surgery for his hip and I’m not looking forward to that bill.

    I have been supplementing fish oil for years and buy it in 5 gal buckets….

  132. Jan Says:

    Shay, the latest protocols say to vaccinate “no more often than every three years,” not “every three years.” The three-year figure was a political compromise made to keep vets from losing money from reduced vaccination practice income. Please read this for the facts: http://truth4pets.org/question-before-vaccination/

    Re Bordetella, please read this: http://truth4pets.org/2012/07/kennel-cough-vaccine/ Experts say the vaccine is dangerous and ineffective and is only for kenneled dogs. Save your money.

    Also, remember when you vaccinate yourself, your dogs are at great risk if they have an immediate, life-treatening reaction.

    Re fish oil: oil goes rancid quickly and should be protected from heat and light. Experts recommend you buy in small containers, keep it in a cool dark place, and use it quickly. Rancid oil is a health hazard.

    I hope this is useful. You sound like a great dog parent.

  133. Sandra Says:

    I have two Chihuahua’s one takes Heartguard and seems fine with it the little girl is only 4 1/2 lbs and Hearguard makes her sick. We live in Austin, Texas. I want to protect her, what do you recommend?
    Is there a natural spray that I can use on her.
    They go outside to do their business and go for walks when the weather is not to hot or cold otherwise they are indoors… but I know that the mosquitos get inside as well. Appreciate any advice.

  134. Jan Says:

    Sandra, if you read the article, you know that it isn’t easy for dogs to get heartworm. They have to be bitten twice, at the right time of year, by the right mosquito. Unfortunately, this is the right time of year in Austin. One alternative is to test twice a year. Please read Part 2 of the article for more suggestions, and ask your vet. http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/category/pet-meds/heartworms/

  135. Bea Says:

    Thank you for putting this info out there for folks .I do think sometimes you do need to use the preventive,but I am not a big fan of it or the vaccines every year. My Chihuahua lived to be 18 years old and did not have heart worms .All of my dogs live to be very old dogs and none of them have been on the preventives. They are in the house at dusk and at dawn.If I were to use the preventive I do not not think I would use it all 12 months of the years.Oh I live in South Carolina about 45 miles inland,so we do have lots of mosquitoes . It is really all about being responsible with your pet.There are natural alternatives to use ..

  136. Jan Says:

    Bea, here is a two-part article on heartworm prevention. http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2009/05/13/heartworm-medication-safety/

  137. D. Campbell Says:

    My little Maltese has gotten tape worms and I think has had them about a month. When I discovered the worms, it scared me so took him to the vet and he gave him Ivermectin Max and vaccinated him again. He is almost 9 yrs old, and I’d heard that rabies shots aren’t really necessary every year, so I’ve been skipping a year or sometimes two and he’s been fine. After reading about the “Revolution” it sounded safer to me. He’s so tiny (4 3/4 lb. and I don’t like it that he gets the same amount of rabies vaccine as the giant dogs do. Makes no sense to me. And if the heart worm pil is for 6-12 lbs., then why wouldn’t 1/2 pill be enough for him at less than 5 lbs.” I hate giving him anything, but he has tapeworm now, so I have to do something to treat him, and the vet said that the Ivermectin Max would take care of that. Now he is wheezing, acting irritable, then sleeping, then around and around again. I suppose he’s OK, I just don’t like them overloading this precious little white ball of hair. I just hopehe gets through this. He was clean for heartworms. Now I wish I’d gotten the Revolution as it seems to take care of everything. Thanks for your comments.

  138. Jan Says:

    D. Campbell, get another vet. Your tiny dog, actually NO dog, should be vaccinated at the same time he is getting wormed. Also, rabies is given no more often than every three years. Your vet should have told you that. It’s a very reactive vaccine, and especially hard on little dogs. I’m hoping your vet didn’t give other vaccines as well. Puppy shots are for puppies.

    Where do you live? Are you sure your dog is being exposed to mosquitos regularly? Heartworm medicine and flea meds are poisons. Only give what you absolutely need. It’s best to only give heartworm during hot weather, if at all. I hope you read both parts of my heartworm article.

    Please read this on vaccines: http://truth4pets.org/question-before-vaccination/

    Most importantly, please read this and take action to help your dog. http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2010/12/02/what-to-do-when-your-dog-has-a-vaccine-reaction/

  139. Diane Nichols Says:

    My pup has had 2 recent bouts with tummy upset..the first being after his monthly heart worm pill…it lasted for about a week..Our vet ‘sloughed’ it off as ‘no other dog has had this problem’..he also tends to get lethargic after his flea/tick meds..He is on Osteo 3 for arthritis and we’ve always tried to feed him well..even to the point my husband cooks much of his food and we add some dry food to this..We just started him on a new food this last week+ The Blue series..with bison and venison..in addition,my husband adds a bit of cooked beef, rice, green beans to this..Again he started with the tummy upset..my He has tested positive for both Lymes and Eric.(I never spell correctly word)..I was tested and determined to be Alpha Gal a few years ago due to a tick bite…is it possible the pup could be also allergic to red meat? My vet is stumped and not heard of such.

  140. Jan Says:

    Diane, I moved your comment on Blogs4Dogs to a post on heartworms on truth4dogs.com, another of my sites. It will get more visibility, and perhaps more comments, there.

    If your dog has problems with any medication, don’t give it anymore. Please read this article: http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2009/05/13/heartworm-medication-safety/

    Re your vet, his comment is ridiculous. Ask to see the package insert, if you didn’t keep it, to see possible side effects. Either your vet is oblivious, untruthful or informed.

    Re food, kibble isn’t a great product. Please see http://www.dogs4dogs.com/food If you feed it, don’t feed the same food every day. And don’t add other carbs like rice. It likely has too many carbs already.

    Re beef, yes, it’s a common allergen — or rather, food sensitivity. I’ve had two dogs who got diarrhea every time they ate it. Try adding other meats — a new one for a few weeks, then another for a few weeks, and so on to see what’s bothering your dog. You might also want to get a saliva food sensitivity test from hemopet.com It’s call Nutriscan. http://www.hemopet.org/nutriscan.html I just had the first panel done on my dog Mulligan and he was sensitive to turkey and venison to the point he should avoid them. If your vet doesn’t know about common conditions like food sensitivities and adverse reactions to medication, you need a new vet.

    Testing positive for Lyme just shows exposure to the tick or the Lyme vaccine.

  141. Diana Says:

    I’m responding to Shay, #131. Will you send this to her?
    In regards to her dog’s hip displaysia: Vets recommend surgery most of the time when it’s not needed. You cannot see ligaments on x-ray, so any diagnosis involving ligaments, is a complete & blind guess.

    Here are the recommended dosages for Glucosamine & Dhondroitin, & YES, they make a huge difference.
    . . . Recommended Daily Joint Supplement Dosages :
    Glucosamine: 500mg per 25 lbs. of body weight ( 20mg/lb)
    Chondroitin: 400mg per 25 lbs of body weight.
    You can safely give more so you don’t have to split tablets. Just give however many tablets it takes to be at or over those dosages. These are very safe supplements.
    —- Many supplements’ front labels say something like “1500mg Glucosamine” when this is the amount in what they consider a serving, rather than per tablet. Be sure you are calculating properly to give the right amount. For instance, if there are 3 tablets per serving & a serving is 1500 m.g., then each tablet is 500mg.

    From http://tiggerpoz.com/id12.html (devoted to joint healing only): “Surgery is often recommended for dogs’ stifle (knee) ligament injuries in cases where surgery is not the best treatment choice. When they have ligament injuries, most dogs will recover well wo/surgery. Sometimes surgery will be needed, but it is a mistake to accept any vet’s claim that your dog needs surgery wo/1st considering the facts presented here at this website.
    —- It is important for your dog that you understand these injuries & treatment options. “Just trust the doctor” is not a good way to make medical decisions. This is especially true w/
    dogs’ ligament injuries for the reasons explained at this website.
    This website was most recently updated in August 2013. The information here is current & accurate.
    In addition to in-depth study of the research literature on this subject, I have communicated w/100s of vets experienced in treatment of these injuries, & w/researchers who have studied all the various treatment options. Since this website was 1st created I have heard from 1,000s of people who have dealt w/these injuries in their own dogs about their experiences w/surgery & non-surgical recovery.
    I have reached these conclusions:

    —-That the majority of the surgeries done on dogs diagnosed w/ligament injuries are unnecessary, & do not improve ultimate recovery outcome.

    —-That surgery is often described to clients by vets as a medical necessity in cases where it is neither necessary nor the best treatment option.

    —-That the reasonably expectable results of ligament-injury-related surgical procedures are often misrepresented (lied about).

    —-That all the ligament-injury surgeries, especially the bone-altering TPLO, TTO & TTA, have risks which are often not disclosed to clients by surgeons.

    —-That non-surgical recovery, while usually the best 1st- choice treatment for dogs’ ligament injuries, is frequently inaccurately (lied about) portrayed or ignored in surgically-inclined vets’ presentations to clients of the available treatment options.

    —-That TPLO, TTO & TTA have become cash-cows for a # of veterinary ortho-surgeons who are making huge profits selling these questionable procedures by misrepresenting (lying about) potential outcomes & risks to clients.

    When a dog has been diagnosed w/a damaged ligament, there are many vets who routinely recommend immediate surgery. In the majority of cases these surgeries are unnecessary & potentially harmful. Most dogs will recover very well wo/
    surgical intervention if given the chance. It is not wise to let a vet rush you into agreeing to surgery. The way to determine if your dog needs surgery is to carefully restrict the dog’s activity for a period of 8 wks. as described on the pgs. of this website. If you see improvement in symptoms during the 8 wks., this will indicate that your dog is beginning to recover & will restore stability to the joint wo/surgical
    intervention. (This does not mean the dog will be fully recovered in 8 wks..) If you can look back at wk. 2 from wk. 8 & see that your dog has been improving during that time, Fido is stabilizing that injured joint.
    A quick decision whether to have surgery is not necessary at the time of diagnosis. Proper restriction of activity will minimize the risk of further injury to the joint while answering the question “Does Fido really need surgery?” Any vet who pushes you to quickly agree to surgery should not be trusted.
    Some vet-surgeons try to push people into agreeing to immediate surgery by telling them that wo/immediate surgery their dog will be crippled w/arthritis. This is not true. They may claim that only immediate surgery can protect against further injury to the joint. This is also false. Controlling the dog’s activity during recovery is the key to minimizing both future arthritic risk & the risk of further injury during recovery. Please see the page ‘Arthritis Risk?’ here at this website & the pages describing non-surgical recovery based on proper activity restriction.
    To be the best decision-maker for your dog, you need to be cautious & skeptical, not blindly trusting.
    A vet may have talked to you about your dog’s injury as though surgical intervention is a universally accepted medical necessity whenever there is a ligament injury. This is not true.
    Vets promoting surgical approaches may make claims like this:

    —” Large dogs always require surgery when they tear these ligaments”

    — “If a complete rupture rather than a partial tear is diagnosed, then surgery is necessary.”

    — “Research shows that only a very small % of dogs over 30 lbs. can recover wo/surgery.”

    —– You may see other websites which unquestioningly accept such statements & repeat them as though they were proven facts. But these are not facts.
    When I dug into the research literature looking for evidence that would back up such statements, I found that these statements are based on low quality Class III & IV articles written by surgeons promoting the surgeries they sell. These ‘studies’ are full of methodological flaws & outrageously sloppy reasoning which would be laughed at by anyone familiar w/the accepted norms of medical research. (See the page “But the Vet Said…” which is linked in the column at left.)

    —- Many large dogs recover well wo/surgery, as do many dogs diagnosed w/complete ligament ruptures. These non-surgical recoveries disprove the claims that dogs-over-so-many-lbs. always require surgery or dogs-diagnosed-w/-complete-ligament-tears always require surgery. Sweeping statements like “Large dogs require surgery” in the absence of any solid evidence, & in spite of numerous successful non-surgical recoveries by large dogs, shows that these vets are either incompetent or primarily interested in selling high-profit surgical procedures.

    —- Small dogs almost never need surgery for these injuries, so it is true that large dogs w/severe injuries are more likely to require surgery than small dogs. But the majority of large dogs & those diagnosed w/severe injuries do also recover well wo/surgery.

    The only way to know if a particular dog needs surgery is to restrict activity & see if the dog begins to re-stabilize the joint.
    Your vet cannot tell from an exam whether Fido will need surgery.
    Nor can the ortho specialist surgeon you are referred to by your vet.
    It is not surprising that vets who sell high-profit procedures praise those procedures.
    Vets reduce their own income significantly by recommending non-surgical recovery. Nevertheless, there are vets who recommend what is best for dogs even if that means they make much less $.
    “‘I have read over your website. I think it is fantastic. I am a veterinary surgeon & have been board certified for 10 yrs..'”

    “– A general practice vet’s opinion can be heavily influenced by the specialists he has relationships w/. The huge profit in these bone-alteration procedures has resulted in large #s of ortho-specialists enthusiastically promoting them. (A TPLO takes about 1 hr. in the operating room & costs the surgeon a few $100s to do. TTO & TTA are even faster & cheaper to do. Prices charged average over US $3500+. Several $1,000s profit per surgery.)

    “‘…Medical history is littered w/once-popular procedures that subsequently proved ineffective or dangerous …. ‘”
    ~ Consumer Reports ‘On Health’

    This website: http://tiggerpoz.com/id12.html tells it all. It’s excellent & complete with ALL the information about joint injuries & healing. Take a look.

    Best always!
    ~ Diana

  142. Jan Says:

    Diana, thanks for your informative post on truth4dogs.com. As requested, I forwarded your response to Shay. I have previously recommended tiggerpoz to people who have written me. I’d like to post your response more prominently, as a guest post, but I’d need to know that you are a vet. I won’t divulge your name to others if you’d rather I didn’t. You can email me; the address can be found at http://www.dogs4dogs.com/contact.

    Come back and post again soon.

  143. James Spaulding Says:

    Hello;My names is James Spaulding I making website called Chemicalfreepetproducts.com. At moment I doing a section on parasites in pets. I look at your page on prevention medication dogs and all the steps a dog has go through to Heart worms. i want very accurate information on my site. Is there any way you confirm what you saying? Jim

  144. Jan Says:

    James, I site sources for everything in my articles. I don’t care what information says, only that it’s factual.

    Much of my information comes from heartwormsociety.org However … bear in mind that it is sponsored by numerous makers of heartworm medication.

  145. Frannie Says:

    Seriously grateful for this website. I moved to NoVA and then to VaBch from Ohio Nov 2012 and my newest vet is already pushing the heartworm medicine and flea preventative really hard. In Ohio, we never saw a flea or tick on the dog and he always tested negative for heartworm. I’m sad to say that I used the flea and heartworm poisons on him monthly when we first got him as a pup. And then about 5 years ago, I realized that we had extreme cold winters (duh) and I ditched the poisons until spring and summer (without the consent of my vet!), and then I only dosed every other month for about four months out of the year.

    Upon arriving in Virginia I lived up in NOVA, I took him to a vet who scared me into putting him back on monthly heartworm and flea topical. I started him monthly on Interceptor, then they stopped making it and I put him on Pet Trust. His last dose was September 1, 2013 because I couldn’t find the Pet Trust anymore. It kills me every time I give him that stuff and ditto the Frontline.

    Now me and my dog are in Virginia Beach (sorry, it’s a long story – but we’re here to stay). He saw another new vet two days ago and now here I am with the heartworm pill decision. His heartworm accuplex panel came back negative today. Why can’t I just get him tested twice a year? He’s about 8 years old, 74 lbs. Again, he’s been off heartworm pills for 3 months and his test was negative. I just can’t do this to my dog anymore and it’s just horrible what I’ve done to him already.

    My dog is a great dog and I want him to have a good life. I need to try to find a vet that will work with me and my “less is more” approach.

    Again, all your research is much appreciated as is all the comments from people that want to make a difference. My heart goes out to everybody.

  146. Jan Says:

    Frannie, I’m so glad my heartworm article was helpful.

    You certainly can have your dog tested twice a year, but there are no guarantees of protection. It’s what I’d do but many people don’t feel comfortable doing this and I’m not a vet. It does take a long time for an infestation to become dangerous so frequent testing prevents anything major from happening without your knowing, while there’s still time to treat.

    Check out the holistic vet referral list at http://www.truth4pets.org/vets for a more sympathetic vet. You might also want to get an ebook by a vet who believes in prevention by making sure your dog is as healthy as possible. http://vitalanimal.com/drugfreeheartworm/

    I hope this helps.

  147. Frannie Says:

    Thank you so much for your input. I found a vet that provides care that will fit our needs. He provides chiropractic care, energetic stimulation including homeopathy and nutritional therapy. He has outstanding credentials. Haven’t gone yet, but will be soon. I would rather test my dog 3-4 times a year, titer him, and be proactive about prevention than apply poisons to him. He already has allergies so that means he has immune system problems. We had a crazy time with fleas too – he never had 1 flea in Ohio, but here we are in VaBch and now I’m throwing down DE in the carpet, flea combing him everyday, etc. Right now we have a break because the weather is colder, but I’m not looking forward to it again next time around.

    Now if I can just figure out the raw diet . . .. . . . .

    Really glad there are other people out there that are asking questions; and you are right, we need to get the word out.

  148. Question about heart worm meds - Boxer Forum : Boxer Breed Dog Forums Says:

    […] I can't find it on there site?? Maybe it's me?? General heartworm info and a heartworm map here: Heartworm Medication: Is Year Round Protection Necessary? | Truth4Dogs __________________ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qaru1pvCHOU Gunther Mastiff/Pit Mix […]

  149. Edward Says:

    I have been unable to ind an answer to this question.

    If a mosquito has contracted the heartworms and the teperature stays at the required point – say for 1 week and then drops to below 57 degrees for 1 night, is the cycle broken and the mosquito
    must be reinfected or will the cycle restart from where it left off or will the cycle restart from day 1 without being reinfected.
    Have done considerable research and maybe I just missed it.

    Thank You

  150. Major Heartworm Med Rant!!!! - Page 6 - YorkieTalk.com Forums - Yorkshire Terrier Community Says:

    […] Told These Facts about Heartworm?), and this one (The Billion Dollar Heartworm Scam), and this one (Heartworm Medication Part 1: Truths, Omissions and Profits), and countless […]

  151. Jan Says:

    Edward, it is my understanding, although I could be wrong, that one cold night will just postpone maturity.

  152. Edward Says:

    Thanks Jan

    Will search further as this is a very important point


  153. misticbear Says:

    hi – i have recently moved to the sierra nevada foothills in
    northern ca. from nyc. while in nyc, i never vaccinated or
    gave heartworm to any of my dogs. they didn’t need it and
    all were fine. i have one dog now and when we left nyc i
    gave her the rabies vaccine since we would be living in the
    country with lots of wildlife. i now face the heartworm question…
    as i hear it’s very bad here..i am taking her in for testing today for lyme / heartworm (ticks are terrible here too) .. my decision is do i do the 45 day heartworm regime during the bad months ..or treat her w/ meds if an early detection is made. i will test her every 6 months. i have used a topical like frontline 2x for the ticks…don’t know if i want to keep on because they get on her anyway .. we have been here 7 months now. heading into spring, i am trying to make the best choices .. thanks for any input you have to offer.

  154. Jan Says:

    Misticbear, it sounds like you have a good plan. If it were my dog, I’d do 45 days on the tick meds as well, and do them at separate times weeks apart. There is no great solution.

  155. misticbear Says:

    thank you! headed to the vet now. happy to get your response before i go. much appreciated!

  156. misticbear Says:

    i used sentry fiproguard last time instead of frontline – have you had experience with it? the vet said the mosquitos were around all
    year ..we did have a very mild winter.. does anyone have knowledge
    of this area? i am in nevada city. thanks! all info is much appreciated. it’s a whole new world for us here. we are so happy to be in nature & she loves romping in a big yard but it does come with it’s challenges! 😉

  157. misticbear Says:

    ps – also wondering if anyone has experience with the petguard herbal collar for ticks + fleas? thanks!

  158. Natural/Organic flea and tick protection? - YorkieTalk.com Forums - Yorkshire Terrier Community Says:

    […] friend of mine sent me this article. Thought you may wish to read it. Heartworm Medication: Is Year Round Protection Necessary? | Truth4Dogs Heartworm Medication Part 1: Truths, Omissions and Profits Written by Jan on May 13, 2009 – […]

  159. The Mosquito and the lifecycle of Heartworm | organicpuppy Says:

    […] http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2009/05/13/heartworm-medication-safety/ […]

  160. Betty Says:

    We have a four year old German Shepherd+Newfoundland mix. We lived in south Louisiana until he was three, and we moved to San Diego a year and a half ago. We recently got him tested for heartworms and he came up positive. We’re assuming that he contracted them in Louisiana.

    The only option the vets here have offered us is the three-month treatment of Immiticide injections. As our dog is very hyperactive, we are wary of giving him a treatment that will essentially require him to have little to no activity for three months. Furthermore, the treatment is cost prohibitive at over a thousand dollars.

    Do you know of any alternative treatment options for when a dog has tested heartworm positive?

  161. Jan Says:

    Betty, I don’t know of any treatments off-hand but you can email my holistic vet’s office and ask. She’s in Solana Beach. I would think it would be less expense and perhaps easier on your dog to get holistic treatment. Also, I believe that there are degrees of infestation. You might want to get a heart ultrasound first. They’re several hundred dollars but might save you money in the long run. Email me and I’ll give you contact info. http://www.dogs4dogs.com/contact.

  162. Best Glucosamine Snowsuits Heartworm Meds For Dogs In Canada | glucosamine for dogs Says:

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  163. Best Glucosamine Revolution Snowsuits For Dogs In | glucosamine for dogs Says:

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  164. Ariana Says:

    I stopped giving my bulldog heartworm meds after reading some disturbing side effects. I live in NYC and up until now I was kind of misinformed about heartworm and how it is transmitted. I didn’t think my dog was at a high risk as he is always indoors for the most part in our apartment. Now that it is fall, we have been leaving our windows open occasionally and my boyfriend noticed 1-2 mosquitoes in our apartment. He really worried me and noted that our guy who is 6.5 has been acting more stubborn on walks. I think this is just a quality of bulldogs but now i’m freaking out and am worried sick that he has heart-worm. Last test he had was a year back and it was negative. He then went on the meds for lets say 6 months and I stopped giving them to him in the winter months. I really don’t want to put him back on these meds but i’m sure the vet will suggest I do. I really hope he doesn’t have it and that there are other preventative options. Any words of advice?

  165. Terry D'Souza Says:

    Jan, I love your common sense approach and your candor. Keep up the good work.

    I live in the Cincinnati, OH area and my German Shepherd Sue gets the heartworm etc. pill once a month from May thru’ Nov.
    Thanks for the 57 F guideline.

  166. Newt Says:

    Qts. 1 … If using iverhart max primarily for heartworms , and if
    Skipping winter months per suggestions ….. Would I not lose
    Out on the treatment iverhart max offers for round, hook and
    Tape worms for skipped months ?

    QTs. 2…If not skipping winter months , is iverhart max the only
    Treatment or action I need to take ?

    Qts 3 …not sure I ‘ ve understood how to treat for worms ?

    Qt 4 … Why is a topical product like Advantix 11 needed or justified if I am correct in stating that it does nothing to treat
    Or prevent round and hook worms and only fights fleas which can
    Be licked or eaten and cause tape worms . I guess I’ m trying to
    Determine what is needed for other worms in addition to using iverhart max every 6 weeks in non winter months primarily for heartworms .

  167. Charles Kaufman Says:

    I am reading “scared” and love it. I have been a supporter of the ‘rabies challenge fund’ for years. I also am doing an on-going quiz on my FB rescue page based on your quiz. I love being able to educate people and help dogs. It is a real fight to get people to let go of old beliefs, but well worth it. Thanks
    Charles Kaufman – Atlanta Dog U.com

  168. savannah Says:

    LOVED this posting. I have to say something about the posting from Sam (128), having a degree, even post grad education doesn’t mean you have ARRIVED, if the education you have gotten was biased and tainted. Arrogance runs high in academia, believe me I know, credentials don’t make up for common sense. Sometimes the outcome is the ability to regurgitate the propaganda they have been taught. Lots of PhD’s aren’t as EVOLVED as many of those lacking those initials and the high priced piece of paper.

    Education is important, but it also depends on the SOURCE. Wisdom FAR exceeds most education! Suffice to say I am of the holistic camp. My mom was on her way to being a Dr way back when and she use to say the only thing Drs were good for was setting a bone and reading an xray, everything else- they just practiced, ha.

    She thought dog food was crap way back when and ALL our dogs were fed people food. Had 1 rabies shot, as she said it LASTS, no proof to the contrary was her argument to the Vet. Our dogs died of old age literally-oldest fox hounds ever! I have had shelties and both made 17-why, fed organic people diet, limited vaccines and other “promoted” prevention, use a holistic approach and Vet. I truly believe the food fed to dogs and humans is causing cancer in all of us because of what they AREN’T telling us.

    So please, limit your exposure to stuff…my family all died in their 90’s-lived healthy productive lives w/o disease, never saw Drs., didn’t believe in the medical industry, wouldn’t pop a medical pill, rather use an herb.

    And be a pet advocate, they have no voice. I am not against sound info, but as Jan says-research the source and WHO is backing the advice, statistics, info. Please note that Vet medicine is part of the medical INDUSTRY and it is a FOR profit industry, the focus is NOT what it once was, it is a BUSINESS-bottom line, and revenue has replaced needed care/ with “preventative” care in many cases. Sad reality.

    I could site my “credentials” but I secure enough to not NEED to. You don’t have to be “scared”, opt for being INFORMED on heartworm and other pet concerns, make the best choices for your pet based on SOLID research and not fear!!!!

  169. Jan Says:

    Savanna, thanks so much for posting. For me, information not making a profit for the author is the most trustworthy. I received an email just yesterday saying that my whole website (www.truth4pets.org) was useless because I’m not a vet — even though everything I wrote had links to the information source. The person writing me was slamming one of my best articles on vaccination. http://truth4pets.org/question-before-vaccination/ As my dogs would say: grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

  170. Bee Says:

    I live in the Dallas Ft Worth area…our summer temps range from 80+ in the early morning to 110 in the afternoon. According to your temp range, we fit the mold where mosquitos would be able to not only carry heart worms but produce adults as well as babes. I grew up south of Houston and had a dog that lived outside all the time. He did have heart worms and it did kill him.

    So, my question is what is the best treatment to be sure your animal’s immune system is strong enough to ward them off…especially, if the animal is already dealing with cancer.

  171. Jan Says:

    Your dog has a lot of issues and needs a really knowledgeable vet. I can recommend:
    Shawn Messonnier DVM Plano, TX “a vet who does very minimal vaccines and uses multiple holistic modalities.” Dr. Messonier is author of the award-winning The Natural Health Bible for Dogs & Cats and The Natural Vet’s Guide to Preventing and Treating Cancer in Dogs. There are other vet referrals here: http://truth4pets.org/vets/

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