Case Report: Heartworm Cured Without Drugs (or Guilt)

Mr. Piggy the heartworm dog looking at the camera

“You’ll give me the safe, homeopathic heartworm treatment, right Mom?” “Yes, Mr. Piggy.”

Sometimes I’m embarrassed by my own profession. It happens all too often, actually. I received an email from a distraught dog owner last night who’d been beaten up verbally by Dr. WhiteCoat and staff. Why? Her dog was found to have a positive heartworm test.

M described Lily as “a beautiful, healthy, energetic 11 year old Doxie” who’d been raised naturally since coming into her life at six weeks old. (She’s also raised a very healthy 24 year old vaccine free, home birthed son, so I suspect she knows a thing or two about the Natural Path).

After a couple of messier heats than normal, M decided Lily should be spayed, and in pre-surgical blood work, they found a positive heartworm test. Now, you know if you’ve read my book on drug free heartworm prevention, a positive test means there are at least a few adult heartworms inside Lily. It does not mean Lily has heartworm disease.

What’s that, you ask? Heartworm disease means the dog is ill from its parasite hitchhiker, the heart is malfunctioning and a chronic cough is present.

“Lily has never exhibited any signs of heartworm infestation – no coughing, no exhaustion.”

Keep that important distinction in mind as you read on. M, returning to pick up Lily post surgery, is accosted in the waiting room by a woman brandishing an armload of pills and is told her treatment “option:” months of a toxic drug with cage rest while the worms are poisoned. Enter stage left the model of a heart with the spaghetti looking worms in it to seal the deal (which I also mention in my book: the ultimate fear inducer, guaranteed to make the faint at heart sign on the dotted line. My first employer used a real dog heart in a glass jar for this).

And the final jab: “This could have all been avoided if you’d just given Lily the heartworm preventative for these past eleven years.”

Heartworm: A Real Case, A Real Cure, No Drugs

It’s important to know that you have a choice, in both heartworm prevention and heartworm treatment. I’ll be seeing Lily next month to get her started on the road to cure. No poisons will be used.

Here’s a case from my files of an example of the homeopathic treatment alternative.

Mr. Piggy was so named because he made grunting sounds resembling another species. He was rescued a year prior as a skinny Pit Bull mix, and he’d been heartworm positive for that year. Victoria, his owner, had been trying her vet’s slow kill protocol with an antibiotic for six months, and it didn’t work. He was still showing worms on his test. A vet colleague and a client in her state had both recommended me, so we got Mr. Piggy started on treatment via telephone appointments.

How was he treated? Like all my homeopathic patients: as an individual. Mr. P. was, like most of my patients, a dog who was showing a few symptoms. Very few of his symptoms were related to heartworm per se, but were mostly common ones that any number of dogs might show:

  • reverse sneezing (that gasping bout that takes a dog’s full attention for 10-15 seconds intermittently)
  • a lackluster appetite, even when he came emaciated a year earlier
  • a left rear limb lameness that was brief but visible mostly when he arose from lying down
  • some rear end sensitivity, especially under the tail, and some slight anal gland issues
  • an occasional mild cough (this symptom likely due to the presence of the heartworms)

As has been the case with most of the dogs who present with a heartworm positive test, he was not sick. Mr. Piggy was not dying of this much feared parasite. He did not have significant heartworm disease, though he’d had the parasite for over a year

Here’s an excerpt from Chapter Six in my book, Vital Animals Don’t Get Heartworms that explains why this is common:

“No one ever dies suddenly with parasitic disease — parasites are, by nature, chronic, slow invaders, not acute ones like some viral invaders can be.”

Mr. Piggy got a single, high potency dose of a remedy called sulphur to get him started on the road to “waking up” to his disease.

Better in a Month

At his follow up, Mr P. was less sensitive under his tail, hadn’t reverse sneezed in a long time, was an eager eater, and snored less. Still lame on rising intermittently, though. 

Assessment: this was a close remedy, eliciting some response towards cure. But, time to move on.

A re-evaluation of his symptoms lead me to a second prescription, calcarea carbonica, that gave next to no results. Still a low level, infrequent cough, still a bit lame at times. But a couple symptoms emerged: a bit of yellow eye discharge, an aversion to getting his feet wet, and some drooling, which was new for him.

Back to the drawing board. A third remedy fit Mr. Piggy’s symptoms better, it appeared. He was given graphites in a high potency, single dose.

A Month Later, Bingo: Negative Heartworm Test

This remedy hit the mark. Mr. Piggy was now using his once lame leg normally, his drooling went away, his grunting and snoring was less, the yellow eye goo vanished, and he was less sensitive about his keester. He reverse sneezed a couple of times in the blissful excitement of meeting another dog, but he was active, exuberant and playful.

Now, I’d not normally send a dog like Mr. Piggy in for a heartworm test this early, as it usually takes about six months of constitutional treatment like this for them to rid the parasite. But Victoria was taking him in to his referring vet for an exam, some titer testing, and, while they had his blood, a heartworm test was performed.

And the envelope please. Mr. Piggy is… negative for heartworm!

All he’d had for treatment was homeopathic medicine that fit his symptoms, some top notch immune support, and a glandular supplement to support his heart. His owner diligently carried on with his balanced raw feeding, got him out for regular runs, and stayed off the Perilous Path.

More Embarrassing Findings

I’m still embarrassed by my profession, and I’m not alone. I learned last week that 60% of conventional vets are still recommending annual vaccinations, this after over 20 years of evidence that this doesn’t even work. And, it makes animals sick. Here’s a quote from my friend Rodney Habib recently that I think is tweet worthy:

“In the age of information, ignorance is a choice”

It just means you’ve got to be your animal’s top advocate, a central theme that this site is built around. It’s your learning and understanding that will serve you best to keep your animal healthy and vital.

Spring is coming. Have you made your mind up about how you’ll prevent heartworm this year?

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Comments

  1. You’re lucky – I would say 100% of conventional vets in Australia recommend vaccination. Even the vet I use (only for sterilisation) does and he uses homeopathy! There is too much money tied up in it, as well as pressure. Great article on that!

    • Hi Madeleine, and welcome from Down Under!

      Are you saying they are all vaccinating annually down there? I’ve seen some thoughtful work from a veterinary group in Australia leading the charge for slowing way down on the vaccine recommendation.

      I hope they can make some progress and even show up the American vets, so we’ve got a better example to follow.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  2. Natalie Lenoir says:

    I love this success story. Also, just want to make a connection with another like minded veterinarian.
    I love Transfer Factor and Austin ;)
    Nice job!!
    I enjoy your blog. I don’t have many people to share info like this with here in Birmingham.
    Thanks again!

    • Hey Natalie,

      Thanks for stopping by to say hi! If you ever get up to Austin, do give me a heads up, and I’ll take you out to lunch. Are you using the Transfer Factor in your practice? I’m so impressed with all the research on it, spanning 50+ years and the way the Russians came, studied it against their gold standard for immune boosting (interleukin II), and ran back to Russia with TF, making it part of their hospitals formulary.

  3. Salli James says:

    Thank you for this whole newsletter. Arnica… was a Wow, I did not know the preventative prior to surgery was a No No… The success story with Mr. Piggy… PRICELESS! Thank you so much for this Share!

    Salli and Havanese gang.

  4. Tricia says:

    Thanks so much for talking about heartworm and what a great success story for Mr. Piggy. I know Lily will be just fine as well.

    So how do I “prevent”? Well, I mostly track the weather. I think its important to know when infection is even a possibility vs. just a regular mosquito bite.

    I follow the 57F rule with loosely calculated HDU’s after that. When I lived in Texas I think there was only 60 days that year that infection was even a possibility in my area.

    During that time we AVOIDED mosquitos. Staying in at dawn and dusk. Draining all water from pots and puddles. Mosquito dunks in the pond. And consistent, liberal use of Wondercide on both my dogs and myself. I then heartworm tested 6-8 months later. All good.

    Now that we live in Seattle I think we’ll have an easier time of it due to low temps but we’ll still use the Wondercide. I know I don’t like getting bitten by mosquitos so I imagine my dogs don’t either.

    I recently heard that for folks not using preventatives, if we decide to test, we should ask for the Antigen test instead of the Microfilarial. What are your thoughts on that Dr.?

    • Jeannee Taylor says:

      Hi Tricia !
      Native of Nevada transplanted to Texas here! Heart worms NEVER an issue in Nevada. I have started on the natural path with my not yet 2 year old shepherds and am nerveous about keeping them off Heartguard. (off since fall). I use wondercide . You mention tracking the weather ? I thought ALL mosquitos were carriers of heart worm but you make it sound like that is a wrong assumption so could you elaborate on that for me? also you mentioned HDU’S ? What does that stand for?
      Any info or direction to info on what you are referring to would be appreciated !
      Jeannee

    • Connie Disbrow says:

      I too am very interested in “tracking the weather” especially since we will be moving to Florida in about a year or so. Right now in the Pocono Mountains mosquitos are not too big a problem where I am, and we don’t have fleas either, but Florida I know will be a different story.

      • Connie and Jeannee,

        It’s important to note that this is Tricia’s recommendation (avoiding mosquitoes), not mine.

        My book is not based on avoidance of contact with mosquitoes, but rather on working on getting your animals so “bullet proof” that a mosquito bite does not result in a heartworm infestation.

        I share some research in it to a species doing quite well and living among mosquitoes 24/7!

      • Tricia says:

        Hi Connie –

        The tracking weather part is just that heartworm can’t develop if the temp dips below 57F day or night. Which is why its crazy for vets to prescribe pills all year long. After that its about letting your animals bodies do the work its meant to do. Dr. Falconers protocol works. We lived it for 2 summers in Texas. Avoiding mosquitos was more about comfort. A backyard with less buzzing is more enjoyable and less probable to get bitten. Human and dog alike.

    • Yes, Tricia, the antigen test is much more accurate. It’s also the most commonly run test when you just ask for a HW test, so odds are you’ll get that without specifying it.

  5. Susan Dailey says:

    I think the recovery was wonderful, wish we had a vet in my area that practiced this type of medicine.
    Well I have read your book, which I thought was a great read. I have four doggies and I will be taking them in for an annual test soon. Have to admit I’m a little worried because I haven’t given heart worm treatment for almost two years now, last test was negative. Keep you posted. My dogs are raw fed and I don’t use any type of white coat treatments for anything, I seem to solve many things with very simple remedies

    • Thanks for the feedback, Susan, and you should have no worries. The majority of my clients are testing negative year on year following my protocol outlined in the book.

      As I point out in the book, time your test for 7 months out from the last mosquito exposure date so you are getting accurate readings. Remember, it takes a full 6 months from bite to adult HW, IF all systems favor the parasite. Of course, following the protocol outlined in the book, all systems are clearly OPPOSED to the parasite!

      Keep us posted though.

      Thanks for being here.

  6. Marina says:

    Thank you for another very informative article. Yes, unfortunately most conventional veterinarians still have very closed minds when it comes to healthier alternatives for our animals. I recently took my two Shih Tzus in for their “required” rabies vaccines. Long story short, I told the doctor that I was only going to do the rabies vaccines because that’s all they needed (well, the law says they need them). My dogs are 7 years old and have already had all the other vaccines, and after the last full round at age 4 I said no more, other than the rabies. After a bit of back and forth, his opinion versus mine, he left the room and had his technician finish up with me. He tried very hard to be polite but I could that tell he was furious with me. Anyway, I was just glad to be done with that. I’m not looking forward to dealing with this again three years down the road but, who knows, maybe the laws will change prior to that time; at least to maybe stretch out the rabies requirement even further to say every 5 years or so. We’ll see.

    • Birdlegs88 says:

      Recently went to a new Vet for an issue with a recurring ear infection. Basically, wanted a second opinion as we had been medicating my dog for months insuccessfully. My regular Vet, who I love, is extremely conservative with his treatment and tries to save us money. In this instance I was frustrated by our failing to get the ear infection to heal. While at the second opinion Vet, I was asked about my heartworm prevention. When I told them I would not give my dogs poison and preferred instead to keep exposure to mosquitoes by using essential oils, you would have thought I was a dog abuser. When I told the Vet that I had studied this topic and followed it for years and offered to bring him literature on it, he wasn’t interested. I guess the money he makes for selling this crap outweighs any rational thought for the risks to our animals. Needless to say, I am returning to my long term Vet and will never “cheat” again.

      • Yes, dog abuser is often the vibe you get from these folks when you refuse to partake in the “prevention” that sells poisons and unnecessary vaccinations.

        A shame it’s that way, but one where you’ve got to wax your feathers a bit before embarking on a discussion like this.

    • Ah, Marina, I’m sorry you had to experience such stress over what should be a common sense decision for someone educated on immunity, even somewhat, as most of us were in vet school.

      The missing piece in most vets’ understanding is the duration of immunity from a virus vaccination. Laws not withstanding, your dogs are all “good citizens” already (immune to rabies) and will stay so for the rest of their lives without further shots. So say the folks with no financial incentive around vaccinations: the veterinary immunologists.

      p.s. We should never all Dr. WhiteCoat to think he’s in law enforcement. He’s clearly not. You can refuse more vaccines and have it marked on each animal’s record for all to see: No More Vaccinations, by Owner Request. Then, it’s not a battle each time you pay a visit for something.

      All the best going forward.

  7. Kathryn Palmer says:

    Loved the info on Arnica. Use it alot but did not know about the preop issues. Also, I am getting very close to not treating for heartworm with the monthly pill. My dogs are raw fed, only had the puppy shots and the dreaded required rabies vaccine. I am still afraid of the wrath of shame I will get from my vet if I don’t treat and I’m not sure I could handle the guilt if they did test positive for some reason. Help. How can I overcome these issues :) Also, if I understand the article correctly a dog can test positive one time and neg another is that correct? I am going to order the vital animals book. I really want to get on a competely natural path. I have to Bernese Mt. Dogs ages 4 and 3. Thank you for the wonderful info you put out for us. Katie

    • Hi Kathryn and welcome.

      I’m so glad you’re taking these cautious steps and are already raw feeding. As you’ll see in reading my book, you’ll have lots of company if you follow the protocol for drug free heartworm prevention! Best advice I can give is to surround yourself (even if that’s online) with others who see the truth you are perceiving. There’s no place for shaming on any vet’s part. You have a brain, you can think for yourself and make good decisions based on carefully weighing evidence before you, and if the vet is not on board, that’s his/her problem, not yours.

      Tests usually don’t just go negative on their own, no. Mr Piggy was treated homeopathically by me. That’s why he tested negative.

      We’re glad you’re here, Kathryn, and wish you and your Berners the best, most Vital long lives going forward!

  8. Esther says:

    Thank you for this whole newsletter what a wonderful article Dr. Falconer, very informative. I remember my male dog was given Arnica before surgery by a homeopathic veterinarian, her partner was the one doing the surgery. There was some problems with the anesthesia but I did not know it was because of Arnica. No one told me that.

    It is nice to know that you can treat heartworms with homeopathy. My dogs have not used preventative since last year. We have just have a negative test. It would be nice if you answer Tricia’s questions about Antigen test instead of microfilaria? I do not know what test they did, I guessing the usual but this veterinarian does not know I am not using preventative. I was using your heartworm nosode but the homeopathic doctor the dogs are being treated by do not want me to use it because she says it will interferes with remedies. We have lots of mosquitoes here, and even during the day we have the Asian mosquito.

    • jeannee Taylor says:

      Yes please Dr. Falconer. I too am interested in knowing about the Antigen V Microfilaria test.

      • Esther says:

        I just stating here what I found out from my homeopathic doctor about the heartworm test. She said all tests are Elisa for the antigen of heartworms. Hopefully this would put some minds at rest.

        • Yes, thanks Esther. As I answered Tricia a bit ago, the common tests for many years now are all antigen tests. It’d be unusual to test for microfilaria in the blood nowadays, though it was the common test 30 years ago when I entered practice.

  9. WOW, great article. Love your articles, I tell all my friends that have pets to get your emails. Thanks for all you do

  10. Kathi says:

    I live in Georgia and there is a mosquito problem here but I did stop giving heartworm pills back in November. Last month I had my two dogs tested (negative) and told my vet that I wasn’t doing vaccines (except rabies) or heartworm “preventative” anymore. She was ok with the vaccines but was horrified I wasn’t doing the heartworm pills anymore but instead was giving them a tincture three times a week. She asked me if I thought she would give her dogs something she considered to be toxic. Sigh. I didn’t want to get in an argument about it so I kept my mouth shut but I have to admit it does worry me with the number of mosquitoes we have here.

    • Hi Kathi,

      Too bad your vet took your decision to get your dogs of a toxic drug personally. It’ll be important to think through that, and recognize it as her fear, her feeling betrayed, etc. Nothing to do with you and where you are on your path of learning. As I point out in my drug free heartworm prevention book, there’s a tremendous amount of fear that exists around worms that live in the heart. It’s far more emotionally triggering than worms living in the intestines!

      The key is trusting and supporting the natural resistance to parasites, which is what I outline in detail in my book. And the real world results of my hundreds of patients over 20+ years helps you to see it’s not the mosquitoes we need focus on. They’ve stayed negative without drugs by focusing instead on building health and resistance.

      To the extent you get comfortable with that inherent powerhouse of prevention your dog has, you’ll find yourself thinking less and less about mosquitoes or worrying about heartworms.

Your comments or questions welcomed!

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