It is a scary thing to discover that your dog has heartworms. And your vet may even put more fear in you because treating heartworms is relatively dangerous, especially when you use conventional drugs. However, you do not have to use medications when there are natural remedies for heartworms in dogs that you can try. They may take longer to work than conventional drugs, but they are a lot safer for your pet.
Table of Contents
You will learn the following from this post:
What is Heartworm?
Heartworm is a parasitic infestation often located in the right chamber of an infected dog’s heart. The bite of a mosquito carrier most often infects the dog. Heartworm can be as big as 12 inches long, and a dog suffering from an advanced infestation can have hundreds of worms.
Symptoms of a Heartworm
A dog that does not have clinical signs may have heartworm infections but not heartworm disease. This shows that your dog may have the condition, but it’s not making them sick. The following are the four stages of heartworm disease, including their symptoms:
Stages of Hearthworm Diseases in Dogs
This stage carries no symptoms, or the symptoms are mild, such as occasional cough.
This moves from mild symptoms to the moderate stage. The symptoms can be occasional tiredness or cough after normal activities.
At this stage, the symptoms are more severe. Your dog may look sick, and the coughs may become more persistent, added to the fact that your pet gets tired easily. He could even have problems breathing or exhibit signs of heart failure.
This stage has reached a level called caval syndrome. This means that the blood flowing back to the heart becomes physically blocked by a significant number of worms. Many dogs who have reached the caval syndrome stage do not survive, even through surgery. However, it is not every dog with heartworm disease will develop caval syndrome. It is a rare condition. Even so, heartworm disease does not have to become a caval syndrome before it damages your dog’s heart, kidneys, liver, and lungs. The damage in the organs will eventually lead to death. So if your dog has heartworms, you should treat him with natural remedies for heartworms in dogs.
The following are common symptoms associated with heartworm. If you notice that your dog is exhibiting any of these symptoms, your pet probably suffers from heartworm disease. It would help if you get your vet’s attention as soon as possible or consider the natural remedies for heartworms in dogs. These symptoms are from the four stages already explained above:
When the disease is still in the early stage, symptoms in the dog can be subtle and, therefore, hard to identify. A mild cough is a common symptom in this early stage. Many dog owners do not consider this cough a significant problem, so they assume it is just an allergy or the symptom of a minor ailment. But the coughing can be a sign of heart blockage as it is often common in the case of heartworms.
Heartworm can restrict blood flow in dogs, and as the flow gets more restricted, the fatigue in the dog may grow quicker than usual. For instance, a puppy that used to love playing fetch but now gets easily tired after a throw or two may show signs of heartworm disease, which calls for serious concern.
Shortness of Breath
Since the heartworms are primarily active in the artery that leads out of the heart’s right chamber (and into the lungs), many dogs exhibit shortness of breath. This can even be more obvious without prior exercise.
Collapsing after Exercise
This is often associated with the fatigue a dog suffering from heartworm may be experiencing. Since the heartworm is blocking the heart and preventing it from pumping blood regularly, the dog may only chase his toy a few times before collapsing on the floor due to exhaustion.
When your dog is not eating normally, it could be an indication of heartworm disease. This is not always the situation though. A dog may lose his appetite for several other reasons different from heartworm infestation. However, veterinary testing can quickly determine whether the worms are present in your dog or not.
Weight Loss and Bloating
Even though heartworm causes most dogs to lose weight, some dogs instead have a bloated look to their stomachs because of poor accumulation and circulation of fluids. Therefore, check your dog’s sides and back for a more unambiguous indication of actual weight. You may also need to regularly check your dog so that you can easily spot any change in your pet’s weight patterns.
How Do Dogs Get Heartworms?
A lot of people do not know how a dog can get heartworm. But, contrary to popular beliefs, your dog cannot get heartworm from another dog or animal. The only way your canine companion can develop heartworm is through a bite from a mosquito that already carries the heartworm disease.
- The first step is that the mosquito has to bite another animal that already has heartworm.
- Then the mosquito picks up a microorganism called microfilariae (heartworm babies) from that infected animal.
- Inside the mosquito, the microfilariae develop and become larvae
- Now the mosquito transmits the larvae to your dog when it bites
- The larvae will then grow into adult heartworms in your dog due to the mosquito bites
- The heartworms breed in your dog and create other microfilariae
It takes about 6-7 months after your dog gets bitten by a mosquito for the adult heartworms to develop. Therefore, heartworm is a slow-growing disease. This shows that you can have enough time to treat the infestation with the natural remedies for heartworms in dogs before the organisms mature into adults. However, it would help if you understood that your dog might have heartworms without showing any symptoms associated with the disease.
Conventional Heartworm Treatment
This process is not only pretty expensive but also long, risky, and difficult. The natural remedies for heartworms in dogs are a better alternative. Here is what will happen if you decide that the conventional heartworm treatment is best for your dog:
The doctor will start your dog on regular monthly meds that will kill immature heartworms and prevent the development of new infections. This process will continue throughout the treatment period.
While carrying out the first step, they will also give 30 days of the antibiotic doxycycline. This precaution is extra in case there are any Wolbachia bacteria. Wolbachia is a bacteria that lives in the heartworm and can prevent successful treatment if not taken out. Therefore, your dog will receive antibiotics first so that there will not be any complications.
There are three stages of days (60, 90, and 91) when your dog will receive a series of intramuscular injections of the adulticide drug known as Inniticide (melarsomine). This drug is so dangerous that it kills heartworms immediately. Your dog may have to stay in the clinic during this process to avoid complications.
Your vet may recommend some steroid drugs prednisone for your pet. The drug will serve to reduce the side effects of the previous medicines your dog has already received.
At four months, the vet will examine your pet and test him for microfilariae. This test will reveal whether your dog is ready for gradual exercises. If there are microfilariae in your dog, the vet may prescribe another drug and do the test again the following month.
A year after beginning the treatment, your vet will have to test the dog again to ensure that all the stages of the heartworms are no longer visible in your dog.
You can see that this method is a very long one. However, you can prevent this long and expensive process by simply practicing the natural remedies for heartworms in dogs.
6 Natural Remedies for Heartworms in Dogs
There are several natural remedies for heartworms in dogs that holistic veterinarians recommend. They include:
You can also call it “Heartworm Free”. This herbal product contains ingredients such as hop berries, apricot kennel extract, black seed, and garlic. HWF works as a cardiovascular detox for dogs suffering from heartworm disease. But a lot of the ingredients contained in HWF can be pretty toxic to your dog. For instance, the garlic in it can damage your dog’s red blood cells, which can lead to life-threatening anemia, worsening the dog’s condition.
2. Wormwood and Black Walnut
Wormwood and back walnut is another treatment for heartworms. Wormwood consists of tannins that are famous for irritating parasitic worms. However, it would help if you were careful when using tannins as they can damage your dog’s kidneys and liver and result in such side effects as diarrhea and vomiting.
Wormwoods do not usually work alone in treating heartworms; you will have to use it with black walnut. Excessive use of black walnut is toxic to dogs, and it can result in symptoms such as incoordination, seizures and tremors.
Wormwood and black walnut are natural treatments that might be effective in getting rid of adult heartworms, but this natural remedy might not be safe for your dog due to the risk of organ failure.
3. Homeopathic Heartworm Protocol
This protocol contains the following ingredients but in varying potencies:
- Allium sativum
- Allium cepa
- Lycopersicum esculentum
- Croton tiglium
All these ingredients will help eliminate any form of heartworm in your dog and prevent those heartworms from causing your pet any potential damage. If you can find a homeopathic heartworm protocol, you should not hesitate to use the treatment on your dog, for it is one of the most effective natural remedies for heartworms in dogs.
4. Herbal Heartworm Formula
Please do not attempt to use this formula on your own because it requires the advice of a pet on dosing. The tincture blend contains the following ingredients:
- 9 ml cinnamon
- 14 ml thyme
- 4 ml garlic
- 9 ml wormwood
- 14 ml ginger
For the proper dosage for your dog, consult your holistic vet. Suggestion: Start a dose of 0.1 ml per 5 lbs of your dog’s body weight, divide the quantity into 2 or 3 doses per day.
Wormwood can result in gastrointestinal irritation. Therefore, giving the tincture in a spate gelatin capsule with meals can reduce the risk and effect.
Bromelain is an enzyme, and this enzyme comes from pineapples. When taken, bromelain helps break down dead worms. This can reduce the risk of your dog developing pulmonary embolism resulting from worm die-off. You can purchase bromelain from any health store.
6. Ready-Made Herbal Blends
There are several ready-made herbal remedies you can get to help your dong eliminate heartworms. Because FDA will not allow manufacturers of herbal products to claim that their products kill heartworms, and that is why you will not find that information either on their products or the company website. To prevent unnecessary lawsuits, the manufacturers have to be subtle about their language in describing their products. They will instead say stuff like this:
- It helps detox foreign contaminations
- Promotes healthy blood circulation
- Supports normal heart function
You might need to call the company to determine if they can get rid of heartworms. They will give you a more direct response on the phone.
The ready-made herbal blends may include ingredients like:
- Hawthorn (a herb that strengthens the heart and helps in the circulation of blood)
- Dandelion leaves (the leaves help with detoxification)
- Garlic (insect repellant, immune system support, and anti-parasitic)
- Neem (insect repellant and immune system support)
- Black seed (anti-parasitic)
- Black Walnut (anti-parasitic)
- Wormwood (anti-parasitic)
Whenever you purchase ready-made herbal blends, always try to call the company to learn more about their products. They will tell you by phone if their products can help cure your dog’s heartworm disease. And ensure that you follow the manufacturer’s dosing directions whenever you use the products.
Even using natural remedies for heartworms in dogs does not make your dog do heavy activities. Therefore, depending on his energy level, you may not need to put him on complete crate rest (as recommended with conventional treatment), but ensure that he is not too energetic.
I hope your dog never suffers from heartworm. But if he does, you have the home remedies you can use, rather than the costly, long, and dangerous conventional treatment.