I had the pleasure of meeting Lily this week, a healthy, full of life and charming Dachshund who also has heartworm. Worms. In her heart. Gulp. I blogged about her briefly a couple of weeks ago, but I thought you might like to come along for the ride, while I cure her of her parasite burden.
Heartworms. Those long spaghetti like worms. The ones that live in her heart.
We won't be subjecting Lily to harsh arsenic-based drugs to do this. Nor strict cage rest for two months. Why do vets impose this on the dogs going through conventional treatment? It's because they are poisoning the heartworms, and they die off rather suddenly and can get propelled into the lungs and/or blood vessels in big chunks. Not a pretty picture. Of course, arsenic is not a very pretty element, either. Long history of being used as a poison, often nefariously.
No, Lily won't be poisoned in the least, nor will her worms. And Margo says Lily would about die from being caged for two months. She was advised to not even approach the cage with loving words, as it could get Lily too excited!
Sheesh, what a punishment to get rid of a parasite.
A parasite called heartworm that's not even causing any disease.
Wait. These worms are living in her heart, right?
And there's more than one?
And you're saying she doesn't have any disease, Dr. Falconer?
That's right. I met Lily almost a month after her dread diagnosis from Animal Trustees of Austin on March 7, 2014. Was she carried into my clinic in decrepit condition, coughing her lungs out, looking morose?
No way! Lily came plunging in almost pulling Margo along on her leash! She couldn't wait to inspect every corner and every crevice in my painted concrete floor, and seemed to take great relish in smelling the glandular supplements that were on the shelves in my clinic. Her coat was shiny and soft, her eyes were bright, she happily greeted me, and there was an unmistakable bounce in her step that a sick dog never has.
Does that sound like disease to you?
Heartworm, Yes. Heartworm Disease, No.
Of course not. I speak more about this in my drug free heartworm prevention ebook. Lily is merely a dog with a positive test. She has at least three worms living inside her heart to turn that test positive. And that's a very different thing than heartworm disease, which typically presents a chronic cough and a lack of stamina. She has no symptoms indicating heartworm disease.
How is that possible? It's because Lily is a Vital Animal. And she's about to get more so, with my homeopathic help.
As I pointed out in my earlier blog post, Lily is eleven now, and has led a very healthy life. She's been with Margo since six weeks of age, had never been vaccinated, had her uterus intact until March 7, and had been fed healthy food. She'd basically never been sick in her eleven years, with the exception of a contact dermatitis while she stayed with Margo's son a couple of years back. She broke out in an itchy, itchy rash, likely due to a newly installed carpet and a polyester sweater given to her to withstand the cold. Probably some stress around being out of her normal territory and away from Mom, too. And staying with Big Dogs, who she is always wary of, being the pint sized Doxie she is.
Never Vaccinated. Never Spayed. Till A Month Ago. Then Lily's Troubles Began.
Lily's history revealed she'd been a happy camper, owned by a mom who had gotten wise to vaccinations years ago, and who raised a strapping healthy son without any. Kind of like the kids I raised. And she was intact, having heat cycles twice a year, though never becoming pregnant. Margo was careful around those times, a responsible pet owner. When her last couple of cycles seemed unusually heavy and long, Margo made the decision to have her spayed a month ago. And Lily, for the first time in her life, came into contact with conventional veterinary medicine.
That's when things started to go downhill.
She entered a system that doesn't condone independent thinking. Or award points for glowing health. Or allow for much flexibility. She must get a rabies shot, they said. She'd need blood tests to determine that she was well enough to withstand anesthesia, they said. There were more demands, more tests, more shots they wanted to do, but Margo refused.
She allowed the rabies shot only.
As you've learned if you've poked around this site at all, vaccinations are likely the most significant cause of illness in the animals we see in veterinary practice on a daily basis. To catch up, if this is news to you, start at this page. Whether or not you vaccinate those animals in your care is the most significant decision you will make. And I'm not saying that lightly. It's risky. To see blog posts where vaccination enters in, you can drop the word "vaccination" in the little search box you find near the bottom of every page. Go for it. We'll be here waiting for you when you return. No, really. It's that important.
Back Home Sick, With a Five Day Recovery
Normally, spayed animals recover pretty much to normal activity within a day. Many is the dog or cat who, other than having an incision scar, really exerts and plays and leaps and just acts normal after this procedure. This is the historical backdrop against which we now have pain killers routinely going home with spayed animals. Even though they typically do not show pain, they are sent home with pharmaceuticals to dampen pain. I've always found that odd, as does any vet who's been in practice as long as I have.
Lily came home with an unexpectedly large incision and took a full five days to recover, all the while on Tramadol, an opioid pain killer. Here's the sick version of Lily, during recovery:
I learned in taking her history that perhaps Lily had some disturbance in her estrus cycle all along. Margo felt the "too long" heats of late lasted two weeks or longer (normal is three weeks…). And the ones that got her in for a spay had way more blood. And the person checking Lily out from the clinic asked if she were pregnant. Unexpectedly large uterus? Probably, they made a longer incision than expected. The clinic had no notes on it. I called inquiring. No mention of pyometra, another possible cause of a large uterus in an older intact dog.
Who's My Patient Named Lily?
Margo reported Lily as being not much of a drinker. And she would absolutely refuse to set foot outside if it was raining, and even when it wasn't, avoided wet feet at all costs. She does like the outdoor fresh air, lying by the open door or heading out to her patio. And, not unexpectedly, loved to burrow and lie in the sun, common for her breed.
Everything else was pretty normal: people were drawn to pet her (she is charming!), she's gotten gray as she's aged, slowed down a bit this year, but still had plenty of spunk, enjoying a good romp and multiple daily walks. Her teeth are a bit dirty, but will likely improve now that Margo is going to start offering some raw bones to her.
So, how to prescribe a remedy on so few symptoms? My take was that we'd start with what she presented with:
- Recent reproductive tract abnormality
- Aversion to getting wet
- Thirst that was quite low
- Recent vaccination and a prolonged spay recovery
That lines up quite well with a remedy I could not practice without, a vaccinosis remedy called thuja. Lily received one dose of thuja 10M, and our plan is to watch for a month.
What do I expect? Maybe a more normal thirst. Maybe some more pep as she loses some chronic disease. And maybe some more clues, especially in the form of symptoms popping up in the first week after her dose. We give a remedy to provoke a healing response. It only happens when the similarity (homeo-) of remedy is high with her disease (-pathy). Of course the humbling of homeopathy can visit when we are certain of a remedy and the animal fails to respond at all.
So, Margo is keeping a diary on anything that changes. Anything. In as much detail as she can see clearly. We'll talk in a month and see what Lily thought of my prescription. And you'll be able to read about that soon after I hear it, so stay tuned.
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