Heartworm Prevention: To give or not to give?

Heartworm is a deadly parasite that infects 244,000 American dogs a year. There are two very different sides on how to prevent canine deaths from this formidable parasite. Here are both arguments.

Traditional Medicine: states that giving your dog a heartworm preventative is an important step in maintaining the overall health of your dog (includes daily and monthly chewables, monthly topicals or a six month injectable). These medicines are very effective and when given correctly, can completely prevent heartworm.

Pet WebMD states that “Treating a heartworm infestation is difficult and dangerous. It is far easier and more effective to prevent the problem in the first place… If you live or travel with your dog in an area where heartworm is endemic, your dog should be on a heartworm prevention program. Ask your veterinarian about local prevalence and follow their recommendations for prevention. Most dogs should be on a heartworm preventive program.”

The traditional medicine approach recommends a yearly heartworm exam.

Holistic Medicine: states that heartworm preventatives are toxic to our pets and have frequent side effects. All of which point to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and testing for heartworm instead of needlessly treating an otherwise healthy pet.

Dr. Jeffrey Levy DVM PCH a Homeopathic Veterinarian states that he “treated many dogs with heartworms. The only dogs that developed symptoms of heart failure were those that were being vaccinated yearly, eating commercial dog food, and getting suppressive drug treatment for other symptoms, such as skin problems. My treatment, at that time, consisted of switching to a natural (that is, homemade) diet, stopping drug treatment whenever possible, and eliminating any chemical exposure, such as flea and tick poisons. I would usually prescribe hawthorn tincture as well. None of these dogs ever developed any symptoms of heart failure.”

He believes it is best to “do nothing to specifically prevent heartworm, but rather to minimize the chances of infestation by helping your dog to be healthier, and thereby less susceptible. This means avoiding those things that are detrimental to health, feeding a high quality homemade diet, regular exercise, a healthy emotional environment, and, most of all, constitutional homeopathic treatment. Of course, this will not guarantee that your dog will not get heartworms, but, under these conditions, even the worst-case scenario isn’t so terrible. If your dog were to get heartworms, s/he shouldn’t develop any symptoms as a result.”

Dr. Levy also recommends that that dogs undergo a yearly heartworm exam.

Which side will you choose?


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