One thing that's undeniable after reading many, many posts is that Earth Clinic readers are passionate about the animals that share their lives. They want to do the right thing. Some readers simply want to use natural treatments, while other can't afford a vet visit and are hoping to find an alternative that will work. Deciding whether or not to treat their beloved dog with commercial heartworm preventative can be a difficult decision. Some dogs become very sick from commercial heartworm preventative; these dogs need a natural alternative.
Heartworm is Dangerous
There is no denying that heartworm is dangerous. If you go online and look at a picture of a dog's heart filled with worms, that's enough to convince anyone that this is not a problem that they want their own dog to develop. If a dog is diagnosed with heartworms, the treatment is also dangerous and hard on the dog. As the worms die off (from either conventional or natural treatment), it's possible that the dog could have a heart attack or stroke. However, the treatment is less dangerous than doing nothing.
The one thing that vets agree on, whether they promote natural treatments or the standard heartworm preventative and/or treatments, is that preventing heartworm from developing is far better than treating the infestation. Any treatment that is strong enough to kill the worms poses some danger to the dog. Heartworm can be present in the dog with few or no symptoms for some time, so make sure to get a diagnosis before starting any treatment.
Can Heartworm be Prevented with Natural Remedies?
Diet and a Healthy Immune System
A heathy immune system and a very nutritious raw or home-cooked diet have been theorized by some as helping the dog fight off heartworm in the earliest stages. Cats can develop heartworm, but 80% of the time, the larvae are killed by the cat's immune system, clearing the infection. Cats can become very ill with heartworm, but most cats do fairly well on their own.
Could a healthy dog's immune system fight off heartworms as well as a cat's immune sytem does? We don't know, but if someone is choosing not to give their dog a heartworm preventative of some type, doing all possible to boost the dog's immune system would seem wise.
Heartworm Prevention Tips from Earth Clinic Pet Lovers
- 1/2 tsp. of Cloud Nine herbal dip in 16 ounces of water in a sprayer bottle to repel fleas or mosquitoes. Shake bottle and apply every time before dog goes out.
- One 100mg capsule a day of pure co-Q-10 for a 100 lb. dog.
Natural Heartworm Treatments from Earth Clinic Pet Owners
It's important to realize that natural heartworm treatment is gradual, a balancing act between killing the worms and not shocking the dog. Some treatments cycle, so many days on and then a few days off. Keep the dog calm and quiet as much as possible, no running, jumping, etc. (Yes, this is easier said than done with some dogs!)
What Happens When a Dog is Treated for Heartworm
Theresa, our much-appreciated resource on natural pet remedies, made these comments on heartworm treatment:
When you treat for heartworm, what you are actually doing is killing the worms in the heart and the microfilaria in the bloodstream. When the adult worms in the heart die, they break into pieces and they only place they can go is downstream, into the lungs where they eventually get absorbed. The coughing and panting is the result of the worms dying and getting 'filtered out' of the bloodstream by the lungs. The coughing [most likely] is from the build up of the dead worms in the lung tissue that have yet to be absorbed, and the panting [most likely] is from the pain or discomfort from this process.
Dogs undergoing heartworm treatment should be kept as calm as possible and strict crate rest is generally prescribed. This treatment is long term – you will NOT see immediate improvement as it takes time for the worms to die off. Again, please read up on how to best support your dog during the treatment phase.
Natural Heartworm Treatments
1. Black Walnut Hull and Wormwood Tincture is the most popular heartworm treatment for Earth Clinic posters. Teriinttown posted how this remedy cured an adopted dog. This treatment is often effective, but some dogs are allergic to black walnut or wormwood; it might be a good idea to start with a low dose and see if the dog has any adverse reaction.[YEA] I adopted a dog that was heartworm positive and used Black Walnut hull and Wormwood treatment on her. It tastes bitter so you have to put it in some yummy moist food. No negative reactions at all to the treatment but the heartworms disappeared. I treated my other dog and myself to get rid of any parasites and we are all better for it. A great alternative to the traditional take the dog to the brink of death $1000 treatment! Thanks Earth Clinic.
2. Bio Challenge VRM2 has received positive reports from many readers. The treatment is 4-6 cycles of 10 days on and 5 days off. Please read the posts for more information.
3. HWF (Heartworm Free) is a mixture of black seed, hawthorne, sorrel, licorice, garlic, hops, apricot pits, grapefruit seed extract, and flavoring. It's a liquid that the reader gave to her dog on a bit of bread.
4. Jholl used a combination of natural and conventional heartworm treatments.
She is currently taking daily: hawthorn to keep her heart strong, chloroxygen to help increase oxygen levels, about 100 mg. of vitamin C and kidney rejuvenator to help her urinary system. She also takes dessicated liver capsule once a week. Then twice a month she gets a half dose of Ivermectin, about 5 mg of prednisone and doxycycline for about two days before through two days after the Ivermectin day…I have had many discussions with my vets (both the holistic vet and the conventional vet) over this and we are all in a better place with this protocol.
5. Hulda Clark's Pet Parasite Program is covered in detail. It is a 4-stage program using parsley water, black walnut, wormwood, and cloves.
6. Boops cured her husky's advanced heartworm after the vet gave a 20% chance of surviving the arsenic treatment. Boops used artemisia, CoQ10, HS II (an herbal supplement containing hawthorn berries, capsicum and garlic) and black walnut capsules. The treatment regimen is detailed in the post.
What is Heartworm?
Heartworm is a parasitic infection of the heart and arteries near the lungs that is caused when mosquito bites transfer the larvae of a parasitic roundworm into your dog or cat. Maturation of the infecting roundworms takes about six months but they can lie dormant even longer. Heartworm in dogs is most common, but it does affect other pets.
In the US, heartworm infection is most common in the Southeastern states and along the Mississippi Valley. Heartworm symptoms can be mild to non-existent, but may include general lethargy and a persistent cough. Heartworm treatment is difficult in dogs and generally thought to be unsuccessful in cats, so heartworm prevention is important.
Many readers have cured their dog's heartworm with natural remedies. However, not all treatments work on all dogs. This is a gradual process; don't expect overnight results.
Continue reading below for all the feedback from our readers on what remedies helped!