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Heartworms Treatment and Prevention


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#1 Hippiechick

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Posted 21 June 2006 - 11:46 AM

I guess its been a year and a half now since my step-daughter arranged for us to be given our boy Gizmo, he was already 1.5 years old and is a registered Lhasa Apso. Extremely intelligent, he refused to accept any new names, so Gizmo has stuck. We were told when we got him that he'd had all his shots and everything was current, that the previous owner couldn't find the paper work from the vet (which we honestly believed because Gizmo and his brother were given away because the guy who had them was undergoing chemo for bone-cancer, completely understandable)
So, time passes, we're into Feb of this year and I take him to the vet to get his shots and Flea and Tick stuff. They also tested for heartworms and he was positive. Having just been given his other shots the vet wanted to wait 2 weeks before starting treatment to allow for some of his immunities to build up. During this time I came to find out that the other Lhasa Apso that was rehomed at the same time as Gizmo had also had heartworms and rather than try treatment, they put the dog down. I was completely heartbroken. Do you know that papered Lhasa start at around $500+ from reputable breeders and depending on blood-lines I've seen them for over $1500! And this treatment runs $300. I would have happily come up with the additional money to treat this other dog especially with him being Gizmo's litter-brother. As smart and loving as Giz is...... well, ya know, it just broke my heart that they put this other one down.

Well, finally the two weeks pass and we start treatment. Phase 1 required a 3 day/night stay at the vets office. They give them a deep-intramuscular shot that requires the leg be numbed first because the medication itself is so painful. It also contains a high concentration of arsenic.I called later in the day to see how Giz was tolerating the treatment because frankly I was scared to death. I know that poor woman up at the office must have gotten sick of me calling because I checked on him every morning and afternoon. Finally, I could go pick him up. As sick as he was, he was still very happy to see me. And my sweet boy who has NEVER been a whiner at ALL whined at me all the way home. From the minute we got in the van to the minute we pulled in our drive it was like he was telling me all the horrible things he had suffered while he was away. Then, the real fun started. For the next 6 weeks, it was my task to keep him calm and quiet. Now, Giz is a very active, playful, "I wanna run" kind of dog. So, I put away all the toys and did my best not to allow him to get overly active.
The reason for them not wanting them to get active is because the arsenic is what kills the heartworms. They are long and thin and are inside the heart. As they begin to die, they don't just suddenly disappear, they disenigrate. The pieces of them are then pumped on through the blood stream. They aren't all tiny uniform sized pieces and therefor you don't want the dog to get his heart to pumping too hard. One of those pieces can easily lodge itself in a vein anywhere along the body and cause heartattacks or strokes or anuerysms leading to instantaneous death in some cases.


At the end of the initial 6 weeks, we get to go back to the vet for a half day stay for round 2 of treatment. They administer a second shot that now kills the microfilangia (sp?) that is what the mesquito injects into the dogs bloodstream and then grows into the heartworm. This phase can and with Gizmo did make them feel a little sick, but at least he was back home right away. As I said however, it did make him feel sick and he threw up a couple of times. I had some Meclazine on hand (ingredient found in drugs to prevent motion sickness) and I gave him a little of that and some Pepto Bismal according to the vets instructions. Also at this point, we were told we could increase his activity slightly, but not back to 100% yet. And this time period lasts yet another 6 weeks. UGH!

Finally, just after Mother's Day, the last 6 week period ended and we went back to the vet again to retest and make sure all the heartworms are gone. And Hallelujah!!! He was heartworm free! So, now he gets his monthly heartworm pill. A 6 month supply was less than $20. Heck the Flea and Tick stuff for a 3 month supply is over $40! So is it worth it to put your pups on preventitve? Hell yes!

We didn't have the opprotunity right off the bat to get started on the right foot. And looking back, I really regret waiting a year to take him to the vet because I thought everything was covered. I won't get another pet if I don't have money in hand right then to go and get the preventitive care they need. Its so invaluable for them these days. It was a hard lesson learned that thankfully had a good outcome for our boy.

Sorry for the book, but this is a story every dog owner needs to know so they can make sure it doesn't happen to them and their loving loyal family member. :hugz:

#2 Eudie

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Posted 21 June 2006 - 01:35 PM

:hugz: to you and to Gizmo. That poor sweet fella should never have had to go through this. I buy my cat Revolution, it's a once a month flea and tick spot-on treatment that is also a bloodworm preventative among other things (lice and I can't remember all the other stuff it is good for). It's a new product and costs the same as Advantage or FrontLine and is much better. My cat used to be sick for a day or so when I put the others on her, but the Revolution doesn't seem to bother her at all.

And for those of you who say you can't afford it, I think Hippiechick will agree with me that the cost of heartworm treatment is astronomical. My family pinches every penny until it screams, but I still find the money each month to keep my baby healthy.

#3 RandomWiktor

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Posted 21 June 2006 - 07:51 PM

Excellent account, and thankyou for posting this. Heartworm is a very serious, deadly, damaging, and hard to treat disease. Many dogs die during treatment, or have lasting damage to the heart, so most shelters (and owners) euthanize rather that treat; truly tragic considering how easily preventable it is.
When I was in vet tech school, we had 2 strays from a Lousiana shelter that were cleared out to make room for New Orleans pets. In many southern states, Heartworm is so common and the communties are so poor that heartworm isn't even treated in shelters; it is left up to the future adopter. As a result, one of the dogs we recieved had been untreated for heartworm - AND a broken leg - for the entire 3 years she spent in the shelter. We almost lost her, because they massive amount of dying worms caused a systemic infection. To think, it all could have been avoided if her owners just put her on some cheap preventitives.

#4 BettaMomma

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Posted 11 September 2006 - 08:41 PM

AMEN! :cheers:
I thought of you - and hadn't clicked in to read this post - as I was giving Scotty his monthly dose of heartworm meds yesterday. It seems like such a trivial thing to take care of at the time - but can mean the world of difference for them.

:) SO glad Gizmo has recovered!!

#5 caldella

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Posted 27 August 2007 - 10:18 PM

I became extremely insistent on heartworm medication for our dog after seeing one on one of the animal planet shows that follow animal control/cruelty officers. The dog was at hte stage where he died within the next day or two, and it was disturbing. What most people don't realize is that, since these worms get in the bloodstream, they don't just stay in the heart. They pool in the heart, lungs, just about anything they can, and the dogs get to a point where they cant' even breathe....

Besides, the Heartguard pills are some smelly beef flavor that my dog actually thinks is a goody for him. =)

I'm sorry you had to go through what you did with your sweet Gizmo. The important thing is that you caught it early enough for treatment to be effective.

Edited by caldella, 27 August 2007 - 10:19 PM.


#6 eminatic

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Posted 09 February 2008 - 02:07 AM

yikes i've recently taken my dog off heartguard AND advantage under my vets directions....i have recently moved and the vet in this state told me that since this is a dry, desert climate, there was no risk of heartworm, as there are no mosquitos here....

#7 Hippiechick

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Posted 26 February 2008 - 05:27 PM

QUOTE (eminatic @ Feb 9 2008, 02:07 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
yikes i've recently taken my dog off heartguard AND advantage under my vets directions....i have recently moved and the vet in this state told me that since this is a dry, desert climate, there was no risk of heartworm, as there are no mosquitos here....

What was the reasoning behind this? Honestly, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

#8 liama138

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Posted 27 February 2008 - 09:14 AM

I'm so happy for you and Gizmo. My mom's dog, Phoebe (a 5lb yorkie), got heartworms when she was a year old even though she had always been on heartguard. The vet said that if she throws up or has diarrhea the day she had it, that she's succeptable. She's a big grass eater, so now mom keeps her inside for a day after she gives her her heartguard.

#9 Jeyy88

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Posted 02 May 2011 - 07:45 PM

We use sentinel for our dog and it covers heartworm, fleas, hookworm, whipworm and roundworm. Its a tad on the expensive side but for all the it covers its worth it! I'm glad to hear Gizmo got better but its sad that they put the other dog down! I don't understand when people decide to get a dog and end up not being able to afford basic vet care!




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