Walk With Me: Curing Lily’s Heartworm Without Drugs | Episode 2

Dachshund in bike basket

Who you callin’ a biker chick?

I “saw” Lily for a second appointment this week, via telephone, and there have been some changes since her first remedy was given a month ago. As you may recall from Episode 1 of this series, she got a single dose of a homeopathic remedy called thuja 10M. It was given to start her on the road to curing her heartworms by getting her healthy. As you likely also recall, I won’t be using any of the usual poisons or imposed cage rest that’s common in Dr. WhiteCoat’s world of heartworm treatment.
I’ve invited you to share the journey to Lily’s negative heartworm test with me in real time. Hopefully, your veterinary homeopath will see this as well, so if you ever need help curing a dog you take in who happens to have heartworm, he or she can help you. In my experience, it’s not hard, but neither is it “one size fits all,” as is true with most of homeopathy: we must treat who’s in front of us, not a diagnostic label.

What Herb Do You Give to Cure Heartworm?

Ah, the confusion about what homeopathy is looms large on the internet. You’ll see herbs called homeopathy, supplements, foods, all sorts of misunderstanding muddies the waters.
Here’s veterinarian Dr. Kristy Conn, writing on Cesar Milan’s site:
“Garlic has long been used as a natural homeopathic antibiotic but should not be given to dogs because of their (sic) toxic potential.”
Whoops. Missed a couple of key points, did you catch them?
1. Garlic is a food and herb, not a “homeopathic antibiotic.”
2. Garlic is only toxic at extremely high doses. [Are you reading Dogs Naturally Magazine? Very enlightening article there with supportive research on feeding garlic liberally and safely.]
Homeopathy is often misused for “holistic” or just “natural.” It is both, but it’s its own modality as well.

So What’s This Homeopathy Stuff, Then?

Homeopathy is a system of medicine founded on the principal of “like cures like,” formally elucidated by physician Samuel Hahnemann in 1790. Homeopathic medicines are ultra diluted natural substances produced by homeopathic pharmacies, regulated by the HPUS in the States.
To learn more, I’ve linked to what I consider the best (free!) introductory book on the subject on this page. Please enjoy Dr. Dooley’s clear explanatory text on homeopathy so you don’t confuse it with spirulina. Or Reiki or something.
Homeopathy is the medicine I practice full time since my post graduate training in it in 1992. That’s what I’m using to cure Lily of her heartworms.

So, What’s the Remedy for Heartworms, Then??

Oh, darn. I was afraid you might ask that. Now, how to break this gently?

In homeopathy, there are no remedies for conditions, only remedies for sick patients.

As that wonderful free book I just linked to explains, a homeopathic doctor looks carefully at the pattern of how the sick patient shows her sickness, and chooses the most similar remedy to that rather large picture.
The “how one shows her illness” is in these lovely things called symptoms.  Lily is showing her unique Lily symptoms, while Mr. Piggy,  the heartworm positive dog I cured earlier, had his own set of symptoms.
What’s common to both dogs was the goal: cure the underlying chronic disease that allowed a parasite to establish housekeeping, and the welcome mat will be pulled in while the parasite is killed by the awakened vital force within. No sudden die off, but a gentle awakening of the inherent healing abilities in the patient to restore full, vital health.
There’s no remedy for heartworm then, but a remedy for Lily. And that will change periodically, depending on the symptom story she’s talking to her owner Margo about.

Lily Comes Out Swinging

Margo had good news for me yesterday: Lily kicked up her first cough shortly after getting a remedy from me! She’d come to me with no cough, no exercise intolerance what so ever, just a positive heartworm test. How would one look who’s parasites are “not noticed” by her immune system?
Just like Lily did: no symptoms at all.
How would one look who was “noticing” or trying to rid oneself of a parasite living in the heart and great vessels? A cough would be common. Lily’s cough came up very occasionally in the first couple weeks post remedy, and went away again. None was heard in the past week at all.
In addition, Lily got really thirsty! Her history on intake revealed that she rarely drank, and it was striking how much water she started drinking after her first remedy was given. That high thirst tailed off a bit, but she’s still drinking more than she used to. Maybe it’s a normal dog thirst now, we’ll see.
Further, panting was coming easily to Lily now, especially true as soon as she goes outside, regardless of the air temperature. No exertion was necessary, she’d just start panting on getting outside.
An odd symptom also began: Lily got some discoloration around her anus, like an ashen colored circle around the perimeter. It has lessened to near normal in the week before our visit, but her owner had never seen this before and it was there, Lily being a “tails up” kinda gal. [Good catch, Margo!]

Damn: She’s Itchy Now? What’s That Got to Do With Heartworm?

Not so pleasant was the next symptom, also new for Lily: she was now an itchy dog! No fleas, no skin eruptions or sores, no doggy odor, Lily was just itchy, ranked by Margo at a 4 on a scale of 10, with 10 being the most intense. It’s showing up as belly dragging and foot and nail chewing.
For the explanation, we have to go back to Lily’s history. She was a basically healthy, intact, well nourished and unvaccinated dog earlier. It was her first visit to Dr. WhiteCoat to get spayed at 11 years of age that started her downhill slide. Surgery, in and of itself, wouldn’t normally send one into itchiness, but something else happened on that fateful day of March 7, 2014:
Lily got her first ever rabies vaccination!
As I’ve pointed out, we’ve seen illness, commonly allergic itchiness, crop up after vaccination, even after only one rabies vaccination. And that one vaccination was given under anesthesia, further impairing her defenses to the injected viruses.
So, her plot now thickens. Lily is not only heartworm positive, she’s likely been made allergic to something that should be quietly ignored by her immune system. Maybe a grass, or a pollen grain, or some food she’s being fed, her immune system is acting up like that normal thing is a threat, and sending her into a histamine led inflammatory reaction.
We’ve got more to work on now, don’t we? I’ll want to cure that allergic, unnatural state (rather than try to avoid every little thing she might now be allergic to or give her injections to “fool” her immune system into thinking those little things are no big deal.) As pointed out earlier, this disease and its variant, itchy, allergic ears, are the #1 and #2 reasons dogs see vets.

A Mini-Heat? In a Spayed Dog?

Lily had also, a week prior to our latest visit, gone through some behaviors Margo had only previously seen during her heat cycle: some urinary marking, vaginal licking, and a slightly irritable attitude toward other dogs.
Interesting. She’d had some reproductive disease that was suppressed by the surgeon’s scalpel (suppression is all surgery can do, by the way). Her first remedy was known to have affinity for the reproductive tract. Had we spurred a bit of disease expression, even though her organs were now absent? The jury is out, but I think it’s quite possible.

The Good News: Lily Feels and Looks Great!

The best news on our follow up appointment was that, even noticeable to those who don’t see her often, like Margo’s son and many others, Lily just seems much more vital and happier since her treatment! The most noticeable to everyone is her shinier, healthier coat. And Margo sees much less shedding.
I’m always cautious when I hear reports like this, because we really want to see improvement when we give a treatment to a loved one, what ever the treatment and which ever species has gotten something. As a homeopathic vet, I’ve got to be sure the improvement is real, not wished for, as I’m critically judging my patient’s response to measure my prescription’s accuracy.
I’m therefore quite pleased when others besides Lily’s chief caretaker verify that she’s clearly looking shinier and more bouncy and happy.
So far, so good. But we’ve got work to do. It’s time for Lily’s second homeopathic prescription.

Lily’s Symptom List to Date

Lily has shifted, and in shifting, has given us valuable clues to help choose her next remedy:

  • She’s thirsty! From low thirst to quite high to maybe normal.
  • She’s itchy!
  • She’s overheating easily, on going outside, even without exertion.
  • Her anal area erupted briefly.

And, the envelope please…

Remedy Number Two

Lily will get a second vaccinosis remedy that has a high similarity to all of this: Sulphur, a single dose in the 10M potency.
I’m very confident in my prescription and expect more good from Lily’s vital force when we check in about 6 weeks from now. And you’ll know shortly after I do, as you walk along with me on this Natural Path to get Lily to fight her own disease, on her own terms.
What parasite stands a chance of survival when her body gets so healthy that her immune system is fully up to speed?
Perhaps you’ve had some experience with heartworm in dogs you’ve cared for in the past. Please share them with us in the comments. I’m here to point out that horror stories, lock ups and death from treatment is only one side of the story. A side I’d guess Lily and Margo are more than happy not to take part in.

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  1. Linda McClure-Woodham on April 10, 2017 at 8:42 pm

    Just found you, Dr. Falconer, this night, 10APR 2017, and I am so thankful!!!
    I live in constant dread about heartworm disease in my precious furbabies. We no longer give any vaccines, but the fear of heartworm is ever present in the South. Reading Lily’s journey posted nearly 3 years ago has given me much needed relief and hope. Our 2 mixed-breed rescues eat home prepared food (commercial tossed out 2 yrs ago) along with supplements from Dr. Peter Dobias. They had last Ivermetin (liquid) in early Oct, and negative test in Nov. last year. We will travel from Chattanooga to Austin if necessary if our precious babies need treatment. THANK YOU! Linda
    I purchased your ebook about heartworm.

  2. Kathi Richards on May 14, 2014 at 11:48 pm

    I was just thinking about Lily the other day and wondering how she was doing. Now I know. Real time can be real slow (just learning the patience thing, wait and see). I do have one comment about C Milan’s quote “Homeopathic remedies, like acupuncture, are becoming increasingly more popular for all kinds of conditions…” – I didn’t read it the same way as you (and I don’t always agree with Mr Milan). I read it as Homeopathic remedies are similar to acupuncture in that they are becoming increasingly more popular… Just semantics I guess. I fully understand that homeopathy is it’s own modality, just like acupuncture/acupressure, Reiki, essential oils, etc. I love all the various modalities for what they bring to the table. I truly wish there were more vets like you. Blessings

    • Will Falconer, DVM on May 15, 2014 at 8:41 am

      Real time in chronic disease treatment and cure is indeed usually slow, Kathi. A good reality check for us all to witness.
      I think you’ve nailed it about that quote. I read it wrong, and have deleted it now. Let me know if you find any other examples of misuse of the H word that I might use as a replacement.
      Good catch. Thanks!

  3. Kathy ohm on May 12, 2014 at 10:51 pm

    Hi Will,
    Kathy and Ike here. So glad you’re sharing Lilly’s journey with us. Its one thing to read that there are alternatives to the Whitecoat treatment. Its another to be able to follow your approach to treating Lilly step by step. So valuable, its allowed me to better understand the healing process. We’re currently in the Olympic North West (Sequim, WA) looking for a new home. Good bye to Wisconsin. Almost made it to Austin this winter. I’m due for a visit to see my Texas Clan and will for sure to let you know.
    take care
    your old co-op friend
    Kathy Ohm

    • Will Falconer, DVM on May 13, 2014 at 8:49 am

      Thanks Kathy, and all the best sorting out where on the planet you’ll next put roots. Do let me know if you swing through this area.
      All the best.

  4. Laura on May 11, 2014 at 9:33 am

    I am enjoying following this natural path with Lilly, Margo and you, Dr. Falconer. Thank you for taking all of us on this journey of understanding.

  5. Cindy Marabito on May 6, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    Thank you for a wonderful piece on heartworm … in my world, I see so many animals left at shelters due to heartworm infestation, their former owners ignorant of healthy diet and holistic preventative. I save the ones I can, but it’s a mere drop in the bucket.
    Here’s my question…the shelter tests with high and low heartworm infestation, but I can’t seem to get a regular conventional vet to perform a post treatment test with the same options of high or low..they will only report the animal is still infected. What’s the workaround on this?
    Thank you!
    Cindy at Reunion Rescue

    • Will Falconer, DVM on May 6, 2014 at 2:30 pm

      No clue, Cindy, but I’m not sure that’s useful information anyway. I’d divide it this way: testing positive? Okay, so are there symptoms of heartworm or not? If yes, it’s higher infestation, more disease present, and if no, there’s either quite a low burden or the body is at least tolerating the worms well.
      You’d obviously have a better prognosis in the latter group.

    • Amy Spanagel, CVT on May 10, 2014 at 10:57 pm

      Cindy, it can be done with an Idexx Heartworm only snap test. That will give you the high or low information you are looking for. I work for white coats but don’t agree with what they do. It is a job, but with my own pets they get the good natural things in life.

  6. Darci Michaels on May 4, 2014 at 10:02 pm

    Yes, I had a Golden named Belle. I adopted her at 2-3 years of age, heart worm and all! She was kept outside 24/7 in a higher risk for mosquitoes region and kibble fed. The first thing I did was put her on a raw diet. She put on weight VERY quickly, her coat became soft, shiny and all her hot spots disappeared. We went the route of Dr. Whitecoat. I knew not of Homeopathy as a cure back then. I wish I had. She recovered, i.e.. negative micforillea and lived a few years more with us before succumbing to an enlarged heart! A fall out of treatment I suppose. One of those “wish I knew then what I know now” stories. Belle was the dog who led me to the Homeopathy path. For that, and the joys of sharing her short time with us, I am so grateful. This story of Lilly, my own path of learning about, using and subsequent success stories with Homeopathy, makes me a devout believer in it’s powerful healing and body strengthening ability. Looking forward to the next update of Lilly’s journey.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on May 5, 2014 at 4:38 am

      Thanks, Darci, it does sound like Belle made amazing strides with your help. Hard to know why her heart did her in, but what a valuable service Belle provided, bringing you to a new medicine path.
      We’re glad you’re walking it with us.

      • Darci Michaels on May 5, 2014 at 6:49 am

        Thank you, me too!

      • Malabika Roychowdhury on November 30, 2018 at 6:38 am

        My 3 months old puppy diagonised with heartworm ,I am heartbroken ,he has just started his life.what to do Dr? We don’t have heartworm medicine in India but has good homeopathy option.please suggest.

        • Will Falconer, DVM on November 30, 2018 at 7:17 am

          No such remedy to cure every case. Need to hire a homeopath to treat constitutionally.

          Do that and don’t worry.