Written by, K. Borys
Those of us who Naturally Rear believe that a healthy animal will not be overwhelmed by parasites. A healthy dog can resist becoming infected with heartworm and other parasites. This is the principle that ensures the survival of wild canines, who do not succumb to this parasite. Researchers have noted that many domestic dogs are able to mount a defense against heartworm. They’ve seen dogs whose immune systems are able to seek out and destroy heartworm microfilariae in their blood. They’ve also observed dogs who outlive their heartworm population with no appreciable symptoms of heartworm disease. Scientists speculate that when these dogs were originally infected with heartworm larvae, their bodies organized an immunological defense against new larval attacks, and though a few larvae were able to develop into adult heartworms, no further infestation could occur.
Dr. William Falconer a holistic vet for the past 12 years, thinks it comes down to three common dog-keeping practices: “We’re vaccinating our dogs too much, we’re feeding them poorly, and we’re using too many pesticides to kill their fleas. It all helps weaken their immune systems, and their immunity is really what’s going to save them.” Foxes, coyotes, and wolves, on the other hand, go unvaccinated, eat only raw meat, bones, and a few plants, and are never exposed to the dozens of toxic chemicals we use to kill fleas on our dogs and in our homes. Some seem to be able to “fight off” heartworm infestations; many others host the parasite, but in small enough numbers that the heartworms don’t threaten their hosts’ lives. More and more I’m coming to think that heartworm is really a man-made disease,” states Dr. William Falconer, “The heartworm has been out there forever as far as we know, but we don’t read reports of wolves and coyotes being wiped out by heartworm, and yet domestic dogs are falling prey to it. It speaks volumes to what we’re doing wrong in raising these animals.”
For a dog to contract heartworm the process is not just one simple mosquito bite as many vets may want you to believe, it is a multi step process. A mosquito bites a dog harboring the microfilariae, the mosquito ingests the larvae, or microfilariae. This can only happen if the dog is also harboring the mature adult heartworm, because the microfilariae are the offspring of the adult heartworm. These microfilariae can live for up two years in the dogs blood without causing any harm. They must, however, be taken up by a mosquito in order to develop any further. If they are not, they will simply die of old age and be passed out of the system. Once the mosquito ingests the microfilariae from the infected dog, the larvae must go through two stages of development, or molts before the mosquito can infect another dog. Once this stage has been reached the larvae migrate to the mosquito’s mouth. It is only this larvae which are capable of infecting another dog. This mosquito cycle takes anywhere from two weeks to about a month depending on the weather. The warmer the weather, the faster the development. If the larvae haven’t made the final development by then, they never will because the mosquito dies of old age at about 35 days, and along with the mosquito, die the larvae.
For the larvae to continue to develop in the mosquito, the temperature must remain above 57 degrees Fahrenheit at all times, day and night during the entire mosquito cycle. If at any time during the development, the temperature drops below 57 F, the development is aborted and must start over. Confusing, well I suppose it is, which is more reason for people to understand that a one shot mosquito bite is not how heartworm occurs.
Dr Martin Goldstein, in his book, "The Nature of Animal Healing" pp, 220, 221, 223, says: "Granted, heartworm is a serious condition... A few caveats are in order, however. Only a small percentage of dogs who get heartworm die of it, especially if they're routinely tested twice yearly for early detection. Even in untreated dogs, after a period of uncomfortable symptoms, the adult worms die... The chances of a microfilaria-infected mosquito biting your dog the first time are slim. Of it happening to the same dog twice? Very slim...Early in my career, I saw and treated hundreds of cases of heartworm disease, most with routine medication, yet witnessed only three deaths (the last was in 1979). By comparison, we're seeing, cancer kill dogs on a daily basis. To my mind, the likelihood that toxicity from heartworm pills is contributing to the tremendous amount of immune suppression now occurring, especially in cases of liver disease and cancer, is far greater and more immediate than the threat of the disease they're meant to prevent... As a precaution, I recommend that all dogs be tested twice a year for heartworm. For clients who insist on a more active form of prevention, I suggest doses of black walnut given two to three times a week, as I've actually reversed clinical heartworm with it..."
The most commonly prescribed drugs for heartworm prevention and treatment are fairly toxic, and capable of causing health complications and even death. Some of these drugs are suspected of causing liver damage and cancer.
There are other treatments for heartworm if a dog does become infected: homeopathy, holistic approaches and herbs along with natural preventatives. Many people, who follow Natural Rearing use essential oils, make their own natural sprays and there are products on the market which are safe and effective with no toxic chemical ingredients.