Old  June 28th, 2007, 1:31am     #1
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Pros and Cons of Heartworm Treatment?
Most of you know my dog Weenie (a male red dachshund) has tested positive for heartworms. I've had a few days to think about the treatment and now I'm not sure if I want to go through with it and I was wondering if some of you who may have gone through the treatment with your dog might could weigh in yoru opinon.

I know of course a pro of treatment is that he'd be rid of the worms and would be able to start the heartworm prevention. Thats great.

The biggest con for me is of course death. How often does it happen? The Vet told us that Weenie could die from the treatment. He said that after he gets the first treatment he has to stay indoors for one month and has to be very careful and not get too playful or something. At the time i was thinking this would be easy but now i'm wondering about it. What if he jumped off the bed? Will he die from that?

The Vet also told us some dogs that dont get treatment sometimes outlive the worms, as he said that they only last 5 years. Weenie is 7 years old now. Should I even put him through all this??

Another reason i'm questioning all this now is because Weenie has been doing so well now after getting his teeth cleaned and the 7 teeth pulled. He seems so much happier and hasnt experienced any breathing difficulites like he was before the surgery so i'm wondering if maybe I should leave well enough alone and not get the treatment.

Please don't razz me or anything or say i"m a bad pet owner. I most likely will be able to get the grant to help pay for this so now money is not an issue. I'm jsut worried about his health in the long run. I love him so much and hes been through so much this year. I'm not sure if i want to put him through anything more.

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  Old  June 28th, 2007, 1:49am     #2
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All the dogs I've dealt with with heartworms have been big very sick dogs with severe cases. All lived through treatment. Which med does your vet use? Mine uses Melarsomine.
How is your dog's liver? Has the vet indicated the extent of the infestation (I asume he has done an ultrasound)? If its a moderate infection then the dog stands a much greater chance of surviving treatment without complications.
What you're trying to prevent by limiting activity is a clump of dead heartworm obstructing something. So you limit running around so the heart does not work too hard and the dead heartworms are ejected in a slow, orderly fashion. Jumping off the bed won't make the heart suddely push out a clump-running about till he is panting may. The more heartworms the dog has, the more likely they are to clog something up on the way out.

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  Old  June 28th, 2007, 2:12am     #3
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Please treat him for many reasons!
My parents inheirted a heartworm-positive dog from my grandmother. The dog went through treatment without incident. Treating her was definitely better than subjecting her to possible congestive heart failure and a miserable existance. Our vet didn't say anything about "getting playful"--he cautioned us more about doing things that would make the heart pump quickly and potentially cause issues because of the killed worms circulating and acting like a blood clot. Jumping off the bed doesn't really qualify. Running around the yard chasing a frisbee would.

I think you not only need to think about your dog but about other people's dogs as well--if you don't treat your dog, if he should live and by some chance not die of heart failure, he remains a heartworm larvae factory for 5-7 years. He is a potential maker of heartworms for other people who for whatever reason chose not to put their dog on heartworm preventative. In a sense, he becomes a Typhoid Mary of heartworms for many years to come. "Heartworms can infect over 30 (THIRTY) species of animals" including both domesticated ones like dogs and cats and wild animals like foxes, coyotes, wolves, etc.

And lastly, from vetinfo.com, your untreated dog could potentially (although rare) spread his heartworms to HUMANS.
Quote:
Humans are an aberrant host for heartworms. Basically, what this means
is that the microfilaria (baby heartworms) are transferred to humans and
they try to follow their normal lifecycle but can't, because they are in the
wrong host. This does not prevent them from succeeding in making it
partway through their lifecycle, though. So instead of winding up in the heart
and pulmonary arteries and living several years, as occurs in dogs, the
heartworms usually end up as cysts in the lungs. These cysts look
pretty much like lung cancer on an X-ray and a number of humans have had
surgery to remove the cyst and/or lung lobes as the result of the resemblance.
In addition, on rare occasions, heartworms find another spot in the body
with oxygen levels and conditions that support their development and live
there for some time. In humans, a spot that has these conditions is the
interior of the eye. So heartworms are occasionally found inside the eye in
humans.

I do not know the number of confirmed cases of either of these
conditions. However, if you want to make your friends (assuming they might be male)
realize the importance of the public health hazard, you could go to the
Pub Med web site: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez
and search on the term "dirofilaria immitis human" and among the first
few hits will be an article with this title, "Cas report: Unusual location
of Dirofilaria immitis in a 28-year old man necessitates orchiectomy". An
orchiectomy is the removal of a testicle.

So keeping your dog and cat on heartworm preventative is not only good
for their health, it helps to reduce the incidence of a disease that can
have serious impact, although rarely, on humans.

Good luck in whatever you decide!
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  Old  June 28th, 2007, 10:36am     #4
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Here is an article I found online which may help you decide.

http://www.dogaware.com/heartwormtreatment.html

I'm sorry to hear about your dog's heartworm diagnosis. It's a very difficult decision to make, I realize, to put your dog thru such a dangerous treatment. You may decide to call other vets and get their opinion. The thing is, without treatment, the dog will most certainly not survive. With treatment, at least you have a good chance. I have known several dogs that have survived treatment and are still healthy years later, and their owners didn't (to my way of seeing it) follow the instructions of limitting the dog's activity as much as I would've if it had been my dog. that said, I would still urge you to follow the inactivity instructions as best as possible.

How old is your dog? Is it elderly and that's the biggest cause for concern?
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  Old  June 28th, 2007, 10:39am     #5
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Sorry I just re-read and see Weenie is 7. That's not old for his breed. Unless he has underlying other factors, I think if it were my dog I would try the treatment after exploring all methods, as there are several protocols out there, it seems.
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  Old  June 28th, 2007, 12:19pm     #6
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Thank you for the link. I'll go read it now.

I am still on the line. He's doing so well right now I hate to put him through anymore. DO you know if the medicine they give him makes him sick or hurts him?? I forgot to ask the vet that.

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  Old  June 28th, 2007, 12:31pm     #7
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It might give him some flu like symptoms and a little nausea. The new stuff is much better than what they used to use, as far as side effects go. The ones I had treated acted like they do when they've just had their rabies shots. Mildly annoyed, want to sleep, not interested in much.The beagle, I pretty much had to wake him up to feed him for a couple of days. Which is a plus if you want to keep him quiet.

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  Old  June 28th, 2007, 12:54pm     #8
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I know how scary this must be for you. My dogs are, to me, my babies, and I agonize over what to to or not to do for them health-wise all the time (more so than on myself!). Generally I lean to the side of natural/holistic methods but in the case of heartworm my holistic vet even says she treats them conventionally. She says she's seen dogs die of heartworm and it's a horrible way to go. Not trying to scare you further, just saying that one of the conventional treatments is probably the way to go. The dog doesn't need to remain absolutely motionless, they just want his heartrate to remain relaxed, I think.
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  Old  June 28th, 2007, 1:00pm     #9
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TY viokasegirl. That is good to know that its not going to hurt him. Thats what i was worried about. I dont want him in any pain.

TY too Twodogmom. You've been very helpful. The link you sent me was very informative. I'm going to print it out (if i can get this printer to work LOL) and bring it to the vet with me to ask some questions.

I appreciate all the input and please continue. I am just so scared! I just dont want to lose him!

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  Old  June 28th, 2007, 1:07pm     #10
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If you contact someone locally who does rescue they can probably give you a lot of first hand experience with heartworms. So many people just dump their heartworm infected dogs. That is how I ended up baby sitting those dogs-all dumped on the Humane Society. Nice dogs, too-the Beagle had papers.

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  Old  June 28th, 2007, 1:16pm     #11
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I won't try to add any advice because you have already received great advice from the others. I just wanted to add one thing: You are a GREAT pet parent because you care and you are asking questions and doing research.

Give Weenie a smooch for me. I'll keep positive thoughts. Love and blessings to you both!

Jodi
Autumn Comforts Primitive dolls, quilts & quilteds, ornies, candles, melts, fixin's, & other comforts & necessaries handcrafted by me in Oregon, U.S.A.
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  Old  June 28th, 2007, 1:31pm     #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gngrbrdmtn
I won't try to add any advice because you have already received great advice from the others. I just wanted to add one thing: You are a GREAT pet parent because you care and you are asking questions and doing research.

Give Weenie a smooch for me. I'll keep positive thoughts. Love and blessings to you both!

Awww thats sweet of you to say! i really do love my babies and I just wanna make sure i know what all treatments are available. Maybe theres something new we could try?? I just wanna make sure I know whats going on soi dont freak out. *L*

viokasegirl theres a lady with the St. Francis Society here taht has contacted me to help with the vet bills. She also is in a Dachshund Rescue Group. I will Definately talk to her and see if she can give me her own first hand experience. I didnt even think of that!

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  Old  June 28th, 2007, 1:37pm     #13
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We adopted a wonderful dog when we bought our house. She had heartworms, even some adults and we followed our vet's advice and she went through the treatments. She was a german shepherd/husky mix but about 20 pounds underweight when we got her. She did wonderfully, however, and had no problems from the treatments. She had the heartworms so long that they did a lot of damage to her heart and lungs, not the treatment, the worms themselves, but we had her for 6 more wonderful years. Wishing you all the best whatever you decide to do.
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