Heartworm Dogs: Treatment w/o Drugs
“Tenchu’s vomiting today. The second time had little spots of blood in it. Should I be worried?”
Scherry’s message came in last Friday, with this lovely picture attached:
Is this heartworm disease?
Remember now, he came to me as a healthy but heartworm positive dog, and I started him on a remedy the day I saw him. A single high potency dose, given March 15th. Now it’s exactly two weeks later, and Tenchu is vomiting. With blood in it.
There’s a saying from the old timers in medicine, that’s got merit for single species doctors (MD’s) and veterinarians alike:
You’ll get 90% of your diagnoses correct with a thorough history taking and a physical exam.
I’ve always loved that. It really puts the “numbers game” of lab values, measurements on ultrasound images, and CT scans into a great perspective: close observation and listening to the symptoms will almost always find the answer of what’s ailing the sick patient.
This has been true for a very long time. We’ve just lost sight of this simple fact in modern medicine.
So, in an email exchange, Scherry and I went over his recent history. Tenchu had been playing ball the day before, one of his favorite past times, with a tennis ball amid a sea of oak flowers. You have seen them and the fine yellow sheen covering everything in the Austin area lately, as the oak is “going off,” as it does each Spring around this time.
“He had a raw beef bone on Wednesday and I noticed sharp pieces of bone shards in his bed. Could he have swallowed a sharp piece?”
Hmmm. Whaddya think, Sherlock?
Q: “How long has he been eating raw bones?”
A: “For the past 3 months or so.”
Q: “Any problems with that so far?”
Which is what I’d expect. Healthy dog, great teeth, no digestive issues, Tenchu, like most dogs, should be able to handle raw bones as a regular part of his diet. I encourage this, in fact.
Now it’s clear: this has nothing to do with his heartworm. But what’s going on is, as yet, unclear.
The distribution of the blood in the vomit was very odd: tiny pin point dots, spread throughout a lot of thick mucus. Not what you’d expect from something piercing or rubbing his stomach lining.
Me: “Are you sure it’s blood?” And, “How’s he feeling?”
Scherry: “Yes positive that is blood. Bright red spots. He is acting normal. Appetite good.”
1:39: “He just threw up two more big patches both with many little bright red dots of blood. This time there was also a lot of thick clear mucus in it.
He still is acting fine. Tail wag. Calm but easy excitable if I ask him to go for a ride.”
After I came back from lunch obligations, there was more email:
“Everyone including vets are telling me to take him in immediately for x rays and surgery if needed. I am freaking right now. He win (sic) eat. Hasn’t eaten or drank all day. I thought his appetite was fine, but he actually didn’t eat after further investigating.
2:19 His tummy is rumbling now. But no more vomitting so far and mood good. Should I do the cotton ball trick?”
No Tricks, But Time to Talk
Time for some emergency phone time. Freaking out is no good. I need to hear more to determine if there’s cause for my colleagues to be so concerned and my client to be freaked out.
Scherry tells me on the phone that Tenchu acts fine, but refuses to eat. When pushed by her, he growls at the bowl (!). No drinking either. His stomach is making noises, unusual for him.
Still thinking it’s an odd presentation for a foreign body, but it’s possible, I prescribed a remedy that Scherry gets at a local store: phosphorus 30C. This, like many remedies, can have a lot of symptoms associated with it, but a few of note that make it appropriate are:
- frequent vomiting, often a long time after eating
- foreign bodies in the gut
I have Scherry mix some in water and give a small squirt every half hour for 3 doses, and then watch for Tenchu’s response.
- Don’t ask him to eat, he needs to fast.
- Keep the water available only in very small quantities.
- And make sure he’s not vomiting it if he drinks.
- If so, pick his water bowl up (drinking and vomiting afterwards loses electrolytes in addition to the drink, not a good spiral to fall into).
I ask for an evening report.
7:20 pm “So no more vomiting. Drinking water again. Just had one of his raw food patties. Will limit water intake as you suggested. Will finish 3rd dose of phosphorus at 8pm. Will send more notes later tonight and tomorrow early afternoon.
Patient feels better, owner feels better, doctor feels better. Nice.
Tenchu went on to need a dose or two more of his remedy, got a loose stool briefly that indicated his “offending whatever” was moving out, and returned to normal the following day. Crisis averted. Surgery avoided.
But: His Heartworm?
We evaluated him by phone appointment last week, to try to see what’s changed in Tenchu’s chronic disease picture. Chronic, meaning the underlying illness that allowed heartworms to get a toe hold and live in his heart. What we’d just dealt with was a superimposed “acute” illness: gastritis, likely from consuming a whole lot of oak pollen, while he played fetch.
So, how’s the big picture?
From a homeopath’s perspective, Tenchu is doing great work. He brought a symptom briefly up right after his single remedy in my office, kept it high for 4-5 days, then moved past it. It was a heartworm symptom: cough.
His cough was so incidental when I took his case, Scherry and I didn’t even talk about it. I learned last week that it had been infrequent, no big deal. But right after he had his dose of homeopathic sulphur, it increased in frequency to twice a day, 1-2 coughs per bout, and he kept it up for 4-5 days.
And then: It. Went. Away.
Worse, Then Better: Homeopathic Aggravation
This is a homeopath’s dream scenario. A remedy is selected, based on the Whole Dog, and when given, it’s as if a fire was lit under the dog, “C’mon, boy, fight this disease and beat it!”
Symptoms briefly, tolerably, increase as the vital force turns up its response. Not sick, still eating, playing, and doing all his normal Tenchu stuff, but more cough. For a few days. Then gone. Or very infrequent, at least.
The rest of his symptoms center now around very external things: his skin is shedding like crazy, he’s licking his feet a lot, he’s got some circular eruptions on his left arm, and his nose is dripping.
Another clue we’re on a good road: the internal symptoms (lung cough) have given way to more external ones (itchy skin and runny nose). This is the best direction: get the inside better, the outside briefly takes up the charge, and finally, the patient is cured. Classic sign of the vital force at work.
New Remedy Time
It was clear to Scherry that he was on a plateau with these external symptoms; they weren’t trending for better in the past week. And he had a busy sleep symptom that we’d noted on his intake that had ceased while he was acutely ill: jerking, twitching, growling in his early falling asleep. And remember his vaccination history? Lots in early life. There’s a lovely left-sided vaccinosis remedy, might that appear in his analysis?
I did a brief analysis on Tenchu in my homeopathic software program, and decided on his next remedy:
Rx Thuja 10M, one dose.
Mailed it the same day, and likely Tenchu got it the following day. We’ll check him up again in 2-3 weeks and see where he’s gone.
So, ever been put in panic mode by Dr. WhiteCoat? How did you handle it? Let us know in the comments. No judgements, it’s just good to know you’ve not been alone.
I was put in a panic by Dr Whitecoat not too long ago. After taking my Foley (3yrs) in for a cough that was consistent for 3 weeks, she had lost a noticeable amount of mass in her hind legs (shes part pit so they were pretty muscular), and she started to be unable to finish her walks =( I got the devastating diagnosis of heartworms. When the first vet called with those results he also told me that it was affecting her lungs and kidneys. Naturally I was freaking out. So after I had come up with a list of questions for them, another vet called me back. I told him my concerns and questions, he then looked at her blood work and come to find out her kidney and liver levels were almost PERFECT. The other vet didn’t even bother to look at the blood work after seeing she was HW positive.. Thanks bud! I’ve never been through this, I had no idea what was going to happen at first. They didn’t suggest we get x-rays or anything, they just went straight into telling me that we need to start treatment. Well (luckily) she ended up with a UTI the same say we got the results, so they put treatment on the back burner to clear that up first. That gave me 2 weeks and I started looking into homeopathic treatments. I got some crazy looks from the vet when I told him my plan. I got the whole “your dog your decision” but I could feel like judgment behind those words. I have her on Bio Challenge VRM2 (black walnut, wormseed, kamala, quassia chips, bromelain enzyme, bethy nut, cellulose, lecucine) 1 capsule 10 days on, 5 days off x6. She is on the 6th round of this. I also give her one tab of garlic in her food each morning along with a turmeric capsule and a natural lung and whole body support. The plan is to take a 6 week break and continue the garlic and turmeric as well as the supplements and introduce a heart supplement as well. Then I am going to give her 2 capsules 10 on, 5 off. Wait about 4 months and have her retested… I really hope this works, we miss being able to actually play with our rambunctious pup and she misses it too! It’s so hard to keep a hyper, fun loving dog calm and tell her we can’t play.
I was put in a panic by Dr Whitecoat not too long ago. After taking my Foley in for a cough that was consistent for 3 weeks, she had lost a noticeable amount of mass in her hind legs (shes part pit so they were pretty muscular), and she started to be unable to finish her walks =( I got the devastating diagnosis of heartworms. When the first vet called with those results he also told me that it was affecting her lungs and kidneys. Naturally I was freaking out. So after I had come up with a list of questions for them, another vet called me back. I told him my concerns and questions, he then looked at her blood work and come to find out her kidney and liver levels were almost PERFECT. The other vet didn’t even bother to look at the blood work after seeing she was HW positive.. Thanks bud! I’ve never been through this, I had no idea what was going to happen at first. They didn’t suggest we get x-rays or anything, they just went straight into telling me that we need to start treatment. Well (luckily) she ended up with a UTI the same say we got the results, so they put treatment on the back burner to clear that up first. That gave me 2 weeks and I started looking into homeopathic treatments. I got some crazy looks from the vet when I told him my plan. I got the whole “your dog your decision” but I could feel like judgment behind those words. I have her on Bio Challenge VRM2 (black walnut, wormseed, kamala, quassia chips, bromelain enzyme, bethy nut, cellulose, lecucine) 1 capsule 10 days on, 5 days off x6. She is on the 6th round of this. I also give her one tab of garlic in her food each morning along with a turmeric capsule and a natural lung and whole body support. The plan is to take a 6 week break and continue the garlic and turmeric as well as the supplements and introduce a heart supplement as well. Then I am going to give her 2 capsules 10 on, 5 off. Wait about 4 months and have her retested… I really hope this works, we miss being able to actually play with our rambunctious pup and she misses it too! It’s so hard to keep a hyper, fun loving dog calm and tell her we can’t play.
I was wondering if there was a follow-up to Tenchu’s story. I recently started a natural protocol for heartworm prevention for my four Labs, in lieu of a monthly pill, and look forward to leaving the monthly “poison” behind us.
Yep! Dr White Coat told me it was time to put Amadeus to sleep when he was hospitalized and bleeding internally from the too high dose of steroids they gave him. I looked at my dog and refused. I saw a happy, totally cognitive animal who simply didn’t have the use of his back legs. That didn’t mean he needed to be put down. Back then he was 3 and now he is 7, happy, full of life and is able to walk again and run around and play like normal thanks to you.
Good for you, Naomi. All too often, euthanasia is Dr. WhiteCoat’s answer to vexing problems that look incurable. It’s just too easy, like flushing a life away. Doubly shameful when his medicine caused it.
And you’re right: he’s one full of life dog!
Yes, Doc, what you described when administering the sulphur and the resultant suspiciously increased cough, then it went away, was what I call a Healing Crisis. I also tell my clients, (humans, pets and performance animals – oh and barn animals lately), to stick with the protocols even though they may feel like 7 kinds of hell for a few days (I’m stuck on 24hr call when a client is experiencing one of these episodes). This is the body’s way of shutting itself down so it can get to work with it’s new influx of micro-nutrients and resultant waste purging, (I don’t use the word ‘detox’ because that’s not really what’s happening – as a Traditional Herbalist I don’t believe in unnatural or forced Detox processes. Using ‘detox’ as the explanation is too easy and cheap and leads people to seek out these types of products that will eventually be tossed in the trash once they cause other problems such as a shortage of electrolytes and Basic Foundations [tm] (whole food vitamins and minerals). The body repairs and manages waste disposal concurrently. So sticking with the protocol, strengthening the terrain and never going back to the way one ate before, (or how one fed a pet/animal before), they’ll never go through that particular healing crisis ever again. Minor ones usually manifest themselves as the body goes into deeper repair modes if/as the influx of micro-nutrients stays consistent, to eventually attenuate down for that particular target rich rebalance area. I’ve found that starting out with the basics for a few months will support the body in clearing away any ‘noise’ issues so that it can really begin to communicate and tell us what’s really out of balance.
Also, I just found your website today and it will be given to all my animal clients in their regimen documentation. You are appreciated. I’m so happy there are vets not afraid to post their alternative health care information for the betterment of overall/integrative animal health care. Thank you for caring.
Hi Belinda, and welcome!
Yes, a bit worse before better is golden, but my patients don’t usually endure what I’d call a “healing crisis.” Homeopathy, carefully prescribed, avoids that. I tell my clients my goal is to move their animal along in curing the chronic disease as quickly as possible, but without difficult upset. I don’t think I’ve ever had an emergency on my hands as a result of a remedy being given. It’s one of the things I value about homeopathy.
Thanks so much for stopping by and spreading the message of natural healing among the two-footeds and four-footeds!
Yes! Dr. Whitecoat is very adept at Panic and Guilt. A few years ago my young great dane had cancerous mast cell tumors removed. I received an HOUR long lecture from Dr. Whitecoat on how I’m killing my dog without chemo and radiation. He even gave me a pamphlet on credit I could apply for to pay for it all. Something didn’t feel right and I said no to all of it . Not knowing how much time I had left with her I started feeding her homemade meals with long slow walks to meander and play in the grass. I’m happy to report she is now going on 6yrs old and still likes to take her time on walks. She still gets tumors – but her own immune system (with a little help from Falconer) now fights them with a vengeance. No surgeries and no chemicals. She’s a happy healthy dog and I expect to live a long full life.
Yay for Mona, and your brave decision in the face of fear, Tricia.
I wish everyone in that scenario the grace to be able to just say, “I’ll think about this and let you know.” So much pressure, so much emotion, who can make a big decision under that kind of stress?
I’m glad you walked a different path, Tricia. It’s been a pleasure working with you.
p.s. I so love your pic of Raylan the Younger with his raw meaty bone that he’s about to appear next week in my new, updated drug-free heartworm book, “Vital Animals Don’t Get Heartworms! A Drug-Free Prevention Program That Works” Thanks!
Yes, Ms. Dr. Whitecoat proceeded to tell me Maxim’s (male neutered feline, abandoned at apartment complex over very cold holidays) mouth infections were caused by so many bad teeth. Eleven remaining teeth extracted later that day. No antibiotic, just extraction, many hundreds of dollars, and Maxim dead in a week. I gave up on whitecoats right then and there upon finding him dead.
Just yesterday saw a video about a 26-y.o. man recounting to the camera his being told he had stage 3 colon cancer and after an immediate, later that day and the next surgery, then being told he needed 9 months of chemo. He said no. He gave credit to his conscience telling him it was not his path, so to speak, and he’s here today, 10 years later letting us know what he did to purge the chemo and not only survive, but thrive…
I’m so sorry for your loss of Maxim. And the people like this young man who’ve been so motivated to say “No!” and forge their own path are really encouraging, aren’t they? It can be done.
Thanks for both.