It’s disgusting – and scary!
You don’t want your pup to get infected.
But, you’re concerned about exposure to unnecessary chemicals.
Can you prevent heartworms naturally?
Does natural heartworm prevention exist?
How Does Conventional Heartworm Prevention Medicine Work?
Heartworm prevention medicine is a bit misleading.
Heartworm prevention medicine doesn’t actually prevent heartworm.
Instead, it kills the heartworm larvae in your dog.
Mosquitoes carry heartworm larvae.
When an infected mosquito bites a dog, incubation takes about five-to-six months.
Without prevention, larvae grow into worms and lodge in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels, before multiplying.
The test veterinarians use today looks for antigens from adult worms.
If the test is positive, the worms are adults and require more harsh medications to kill.
Plus serious complications are a risk when killing adult heartworms.
The “slow kill” method you may hear about has fallen out of favor due to the lack of efficacy and length of time it takes to kill the adult worms.
The whole time the worms are alive they are damaging the heart and vessels.
Why Use Conventional Heartworm Prevention?
Dr. Marc Smith, the co-founder of PET | TAO and practicing veterinarian at Natchez Trace Veterinary Services, recommends oral medications, such as ivermectin, also known as TriHeart.
Dr. Smith and other holistic practitioners prefer oral medications to topical spot-on medications.
Oral medications only stay in the body for a few days, while spot-on medications stay in the body the entire month.
Additionally, oral heartworm preventives are very safe.
The necessary dose is approximately 1/30th of the dose needed to treat other parasitic diseases.
Are There Natural Alternatives?
Anecdotally, people recommend garlic, black walnut, wormwood, and homeopathic heartworm nosode for natural heartworm prevention.
However, using natural heartworm preventatives is risky, as there are no scientific studies proving their efficacy.
Furthermore, even anecdotally, a dog not developing a positive heartworm test doesn’t prove the preventative worked.
In fact, many dogs not taking preventive medication, traditional or natural, won’t test positive for heartworms.
Those who feel adamant about avoiding medications, but wish to protect their pet, can test their pup regularly throughout the heartworm season.
However, if your pup tests positive, medications are the best course of treatment.
Another consideration is cost. Preventative medicine costs between $5-$15 per month, while treatment costs $400-$1,000.
Other ways to naturally prevent heartworm include:
- Limit your dog’s exposure to mosquitos, if possible
- Take your pet for regular veterinary checkups and bloodwork
- In addition to the above tips, feed your dog a well-balanced diet to improve the overall health