Home Remedies For Heartworms In Dogs
Heartworms are deadly parasites that are transmitted in dogs through infected mosquitoes. Adult dogs are a natural host for these creatures and not only dogs, but heartworms are also found in many other animals like cats and foxes.
This potentially fatal disease is caused by a blood-sucking parasite known as Dirofilaria immitis. They live inside the dog’s body, mate, and reproduce. When the worm burden increases they affect the heart, lungs, and the associated blood vessels.
Dogs love to spend most of the time outside. Their active nature doesn’t let them rest indoors. This creates a risk of catching several types of biting bugs including fleas and ticks on their body. And, mosquitoes can be one of them too. You never know which one of them is a carrier of the disease!
There are plenty of preventive medications in the market to protect your furry friend from being bitten by the wrong bug but the treatments are limited and costly. There are many home remedies for heartworm in dogs which will be discussed below in the article!
Symptoms And Stages Of Heartworm And Dogs?
Generally, there are 4 stages of symptoms in dogs, and in most cases, these stages can overlap one another. The four clinical symptoms in your dog begin as soon as they are bit by a carrier mosquito. The following stages will educate you about the 4 major stages.
The first stage in dogs will most likely be symptoms free. The heartworms are present in the intestine and are starting to settle in the heart. But, in the first stage, the heartworms are not grown enough to start mating and reproducing. These are baby worms known as microfilariae and the dog’s body will not have adequate antigens to detect these worms.
In the second stage, you will notice mild symptoms which include showing resistance while doing exercises and a lingering cough. At this stage, the heartworms are in the dog’s body for an extended period and their system will have developed antibodies and probable microfilariae production. Hence, blood tests can detect heartworm disease in this stage.
In the third stage, the dog’s symptoms are very noticeable and it will have a severe effect on their health. Dogs will continue to cough, become lethargic, and most likely become uninterested in their daily activities. They may experience more trouble in breathing as compared to stage 2. At this stage, dogs might cough out blood which is the high time to consult a vet. At the clinic, the vet will perform a chest x-ray and the disease will be quite evident on it. The worms in the heart and associated blood vessels will be visible.
In the last stage, symptoms are similar to stage 3 but severe. The dog will show very visible heartworm symptoms and will fall seriously ill. Resisting in exercise, coughing blood, loss of appetite and lethargy will be much more noticeable.
After the checkup, the vet will prescribe tests that will reveal the impact of symptoms by observing the abnormal sounds within the dog’s lungs, heart, and liver. At this stage, even with treatment, it leaves the dog at high risk of long-term debilitation or in worst cases, death.
How To Determine The Severity Of Heartworm Disease In Dogs?
There are a few factors on which the severity of the disease depends upon:
- Worm burden inside the dog’s body – The number of worms inside the body is known as “worm burden”. The normal range of these worms is up to 15 but it can vary from 1 to 250.
- The duration of incubation – It is the time elapsed by the blood-sucking parasite to grow inside the dog’s body.
- The response of the infected in fighting off the infestation – In the early stages, the dog will have more ability and greater immunity to fight against the disease. As the dog gets older and the disease progresses it becomes difficult to fight against it.
The treatment of this disease is easy in the early stages. As it elevates it becomes more difficult to be treated and the dog’s health is also affected as long as they live.
It is your responsibility to keep an eye on the early symptoms and remain cautious regarding their behavior. If you find any symptoms that are indicators of heartworm disease, contact the vet immediately.
What Does Conventional Treatment Of Heartworm In Dogs Look Like?
There are a few treatments for dogs who have heartworm disease. The vet will put your dog on melarsomine dihydrochloride, which is the only commercial medicine available. It requires multiple shots of painful injections.
The “slow kill” method consists of ivermectin along with antibiotic doxycycline. It kills the microfilariae, which are baby worms. Killing them stops them to mature and reproduce. For dogs who are severely affected. The surgical procedure through the jugular vein is the only way out.
Things You Need To Know About The Conventional Treatment
There is a major difference between heartworm prevention and heartworm treatment.
Prevention is essential to protect your dog from the disease. Treatment is carried out when the dog is sick and they have become infected.
At the clinic, the first thing the vet will do is perform a blood test to confirm whether your pooch is heartworm positive or not. If the test is positive, the vet will prescribe the following tests to assess the degree of severity and to determine an appropriate treatment plan.
- Testing the dog’s urine or urinalysis
- An antigen test to confirm the presence of female adult heartworms
- X-rays and radiographs. It will help them to observe the shape and size of the heart. If the worm burden is greater, it will obstruct the pulmonary arteries and this test will show enlarged arteries.
- It gives a direct view of the heart and lungs and the surrounding vessels. This test will help to observe the condition and function of the heart.
In the initial treatment, dogs are most likely hospitalized and given an “adulticide” to kill the adult heartworms. The microfilariae are killed using monthly precautions that can be administered at home.
Holistic Heartworm Treatments For Dogs – Why Aren’t They Safe
There can be some downsides to ivermectin. And this is why most people tend to move towards natural treatments that are promoted by holistic veterinarians.
Heartworm Free or HWF:
HWF is an herbal product that consists of natural ingredients like garlic, apricot kernel extract, hop berries, and black seed. Since this disease affects the heart and the lungs, this product is considered to be a “cardiovascular detox for heartworm disease.
But, some of the ingredients are toxic for dogs like garlic, as it contains thiosulfate, dogs shouldn’t eat it because it damages the red blood cells and can be life-threatening. Hence, most people avoid this treatment to avoid putting their pooch’s life in danger.
Black Walnut And Wormwood:
Wormwood and black nut are used together but black walnut is toxic to dogs which cause tremors, seizures, and incoordination. Wormwood contains tannins which is an effective ingredient to irritate parasitic worms. But, it can damage the liver and cause vomiting and diarrhea.
This natural remedy can prove itself to be effective for heartworm disease but it carries the risk of organ failure which makes it an unsafe treatment for heartworm prevention.
Natural Ways To Prevent Heartworm In Dogs
While you cannot stop your canine friend from going outside, there are a few home remedies for heartworm in dogs so that they lead a healthy and happy life.
Many people have shown concern and observed side effects related to conventional treatments. There are several natural ways to prevent these blood-sucking parasites from latching on your furry friend.
Vegetables are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals that helps strengthen the immune system. This common orange vegetable is also packed with vitamin A and it will help your dog get rid of the heartworms.
Indelicately chopped carrots will scrape the walls of the digestive tract and stomach as they are passed through the system which removes the mucus and any parasites that are within it. You can make this tasty treat a part of your dog’s diet at any time. It is filled with essential vitamins that dogs require to fight against multiple diseases.
Pumpkin seeds are highly effective against heartworms. It contains an amino acid called “cucurbitacin”. This acid paralyzes the worms which results in easy elimination from the intestine. You can grind them and add them to their regular diet.
Along with being a natural dewormer, pumpkins are also a great source of proteins for dogs. The fleshy part also helps to cure diarrhea and also contains essential vitamins like A and C and Beta-carotene that slows the aging process in dogs.
Dried coconut acts as anthelmintic medicine or vermifuge. In other words, dried coconut acts as an anti-parasitic drug. It helps to remove heartworms and other internal parasites. Sprinkle the powder on their food according to their size which is as follows:
- 1 teaspoon for small dogs
- 2 teaspoons for medium dogs
- 3 teaspoons for large dogs
Coconut oil contains lauric acid, which also helps to get rid of other viruses, help in digestion, improve brain energy, and mental function. Feeding coconut oil regularly to dogs will also eliminate heartworms from the intestine.
Turmeric has a wide range of benefits for dogs. It helps to boost the immune system and has anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties. It can eliminate these blood-sucking parasites and also repair the damage caused by these pesky creatures. The anti-inflammatory properties reduce joint inflammation. It also helps in breaking down dietary fibers too.
Turmeric contains the substance curcumin; it can be hard for dogs to digest it. Therefore, you should mix it with their regular food in small quantities to reduce the risk of diarrhea and other digestive upsets.
Apple Cider Vinegar:
As humans, we have all become aware of the benefits of apple cider vinegar but little did we know that fermented apple cider vinegar is one of the best ways to deworm your four-legged friend.
Fermented ACV, unlike other kinds of vinegar, increases the alkaline level inside the dog’s intestine, making it unbearable for the worms to survive.
Add one-fourth or one teaspoon of raw organic apple cider vinegar to your canine buddy’s water every day. Throughout this treatment, you will notice that the coat of your dog has also thickened which is a plus point.
For humans, chamomile is proven one of the best natural ingredients to get rid of bloating and has other soothing properties too. It can also help with the inflammation in dogs caused by these parasites. Not only heartworms, but chamomile is also an effective ingredient to get rid of roundworms and whipworms.
It is best if you give it as a tincture and the recommended dosage is 0.25mL- 0.5mLper 20 lbs of dog’s weight and repeats it twice a day. Chamomile is cheaply available in any store and online as well.
The Bottom Line:
Heartworm is a preventable disease. There are many preventive medications that you can give to your canine friend. Other than that, you should also buy a yard spray to keep mosquitoes and biting bugs away from the garden.
Being a dog owner, you have to take care of the needs of your dog. With the amount of love, warmth, and attention they give, you have to repay it by taking care of their health and spending time with them as much as you can.
You cannot confine your dog indoors just because of the fear of mosquitoes, preventive medications and proper cleaning will ensure that your dog is heartworm free. If by chance your four-legged friend is infected, you don’t need to worry. Your pooch will be heartworm free if you follow the proper procedure of deworming them.
In the initial stages, home remedies can be an effective treatment but if the disease is in the advanced stage, conventional treatment is the only way out.