Heartworm Pills: Seriously Sick

“Angel is very sick and has been in intensive care at a vet clinic here in Asheville.”

This landed in my inbox April 9. It was from Jan, a past client I hadn’t heard from in about a year and a half. When I dug back into Angel’s case with Jan’s help, something surfaced: she was bouncing in and out of horrible diarrhea and vomiting, even landing her in the ER.

The timing was such that her sickness returned several days to a week after she’d gotten her monthly heartworm pills.

Sentinel, if you’re keeping score on brands. I think they are likely to all be similar in risk, though.

Intensive Care. Oh oh.

Luckily, Jan and I were able to make a time together that same day, and I learned more about Angel’s serious disease, now presumed “inflammatory bowel disease” or IBD.

She was one sick dog. So sick, she’d been in intensive care just six days before we talked. The symptoms that landed her there?

“She had diarrhea that was pure blood. I thought she was going to die.”

Angel would start a typical round of this illness with loud, (wake-up!) gurgling in her intestines, in the middle of the night. This often progressed to vomiting, and then, 30 to 60 minutes later, pouring diarrhea.

Poor thing.

Released from the E.R. just five days earlier, with a finding of pancreatitis this time, Jan was calling now because Angel was sick again. She’d had one good day and bounced back into spit ups, then diarrhea that was just liquid. Of course, she was on every anti- drug that might apply:

  • Anti-nausea
  • Anti-diarrhea, anti-inflammatory, etc.
  • And, Dr. WhiteCoat’s favorite: Antibiotics (really? this was all caused by a bacteria, then?)

And, of course, she was put on i.v. fluids and allowed no food. She’s just a wee thing, without much reserves.

First Take Away: HW Pills are Immune Wreckers

So, in this disease of inflammatory bowel, or IBD, what’s going on inside, exactly? The definitive diagnosis comes from a biopsy, sampling a tiny piece of the lining of the lower intestinal wall, which is examined under a microscope.

And the culprit is: Angel’s Immune System!

Wait. You mean that finely tuned, amazingly intelligent system that was designed to protect her against all manner of threats, from nasty viruses to cancer?

Yep. That system. Now attacking her intestines.

But that’s crazy!

Agreed. And this is one more example of the damage that heartworm pills can wreak. I wrote of other, more deadly versions here.

Homeopathy: DIY?

Somehow, Jan had discovered a remedy that was “working” quite well for several of the past episodes of this GI illness: nux vomica, aka “the hangover remedy.” Angel got ill, Jan would give her a few doses of the nux, and she’d have a few good weeks.

Before taking her next heartworm pill. Then it would start all over again.

dog getting medicine

Spin the drug-roulette wheel now. Whee!

Now for those who’ve learned a few remedies, it makes perfect sense that nux would help Angel. It’s a remedy for sick digestive systems. Liver problems. And, …wait for it…

…states of intoxication.

So, yet another point in favor of this being a drug-caused illness. Angel was given her monthly heartworm drug, became sick from the drug in a serious way, and she was remedied by a substance known to help with detoxification.

Don’t Try This at Home, Kids!

But, while that sounds useful on the surface, another take home point is this:

Angel had chronic disease. And repeated dosing of nux vomica was doing nothing to cure that chronic disease. It palliated it nicely. Which means, it made the symptoms go away without correcting the deeper disorder, (which we’d actually seen signs of from her early days).

And, without moving her in a curative direction, nux was allowing her chronic disease to grow.

“This last time, (the nux vomica) didn’t work. That’s why we ended up in the E.R.”

There’s a very valuable lesson here: unless you’re trained to manage chronic disease, it’s best to save your use of remedies for truly acute troubles only.

Acute, as in sudden injury (try arnica). Garbage gut (try arsenicum album). Bee sting (apis, STAT).

Chronic diseases reoccur, get slowly worse over time, and need professional help to cure.

So, I’ve got work to do now. We’ve got to not just get Angel out of this horrible dilemma of gut distress and diarrhea, but we’ve got to cure her, so she doesn’t keep repeating her trips to the E.R. It’ll take time, but we’ll get there, quite likely.

Angel: You are Not Alone

I recently rewrote my drug free heartworm prevention book, and called on my colleague Jean Dodds, DVM, famous for her work in blood diseases and immunology.

Years ago, Dr. Dodds presented at the AHVMA about the growing number of dogs getting seriously ill after heartworm pills and vaccinations. She kindly sent me her paper focused entirely on the former, published years ago in a vet journal.

The data were downright scary.

Dr. Dodds catalogued disease coming after the heartworm monthly pills (Ivermectin or Milbemycin) that ranged from

  • lethargy
  • staggering
  • vomiting and diarrhea
  • unable to rise

all the way to

  • sudden death “2 days after dose”
  • bone marrow failure
  • seizures
  • severe ITP (immune mediated thrombocytopenia, not able to clot blood)
  • liver failure
  • IMHA and death (immune mediated hemolytic anemia, dying from immune attack on the dog’s own red blood cells)

Hey Teacher, What’d You Learn?

You know how it’s often said that the teacher learns more than the students? Rewriting my drug free heartworm book (and making it into an audiobook and course!) has clearly been an eye opener for me. I had relegated heartworm preventatives to a mildly intoxicating “hit” on those who received them monthly. They were not a good thing, but the animal could recover, they’d get over it.

It’s crystal clear to me now that these drugs pack a much more insidious wallop than just toxins. They are immune disrupters. Serious risks to your animal’s health and very existence.

Think about your own experiences of monthly heartworm drugs. We’d all love to read any insights your animals spoke to you about around the first of every month. Angel’s is not an exceptional case. Not by a long shot.

35 Comments

  1. Cassy on July 10, 2022 at 8:11 pm

    On the vet’s recommendation, I purchased Interceptor Plus for my 5 pound Morkie. She is 12 1/2 years old and missing some teeth, so the smaller size appealed to me. The Vet and the assistants have all told me, she looks more like 7 or 8 years old, rather than 12 1/2. I attribute that to “Petandim”, a vitamin that gets rid of oxidative stress and other garbage in a dog’s immune system. When I started Trixie-Belle on it, she began running around like a new puppy!!

    After receiving her vaccinations, I took her home and gave her one Interceptor Plus tablet. From the moment she ate it, she began to decline. She refused to eat OR to drink! She was completely lethargic. She had an uncoordinated gait. The things she normally did (ie: walking up stairs, jumping off the bed, and jumping up on the bed) she could not do. She would seemingly fall this way and that while trying to walk straight.

    Now my baby girl has been in bad health before, but I could ALWAYS get her to eat boiled chicken, even if she had severe vomiting and diarrhea. With this pill, she refused to eat ANYTHING at all, and she would not drink her water.

    I called the Vet and asked if this was a reaction they had seen with Ibterceptor Plus. I was told in no uncertain terms, “This just could NOT be the Inceptor Plus!”

    Thank heaven I found this site with info.
    I’m a Registered Nurse, and it looked, for the whole world, like a drug interaction. She drank a
    bit of water that afternoon, but nothing much after.

    Two days after the injection, we went back to the Vet. I told her, in no uncertain terms, that the Interceptor Plus was the ONLY THING different from what she has had every year before. I told them, “As an RN, I’m telling you, this is a reaction to the Interceptor Plus that you gave her.” This time, the Vet FINALLY agreed with me. They gave my Trixie-Belle fluids, something for nausea, and a strong a shot of Dexemethesone, something to counteract the allergic reaction. Within 3 to 4 hours, she devoured the boiled chicken I had made her!!

    I’m SO grateful that I figured it out in plenty of time!! Some animals DO react to heartworm treatment, regardless of what they say. You KNOW your pet. If they are not acting right, get them to the Vet or ER. It’s better to catch a reaction earlier, rather than later. My sweet baby made a full recovery!! Trixie-Belle is a happy and healthy, and as full of life as she ever has been!!!! It scares me to think that the Vet tried to talk me in to the yearly shot instead of the monthly, by mouth, form. I truly believe I’d likely have lost my dog to it, if I’d have followed their advice and done the yearly injection. !

    Again, ONLY you know you’re pet. If they are not acting right, err on the site of caution. Take them back to the Vet and demand something be done!!!

  2. Sarah on March 18, 2021 at 2:17 pm

    I am at a loss. My 11 month old Golden Doodle is starting his second round of vomiting and diarrhea after getting his Interceptor Plus. I did not attribute the first round to the drug; however, this second round is making me think otherwise. A month ago he started vomiting and then started having diarrhea with blood in both. We took him to an emergency vet. They did xrays and cleared him for an obstruction. Said that his blood looked good, but was dehydrated. They gave him IV fluids. Thought he may have gotten into something. Sent him home with anti-nausea meds and antibiotics. He finished that and started feeling better. Well, two nights ago, we gave him his Interceptor Plus and now today he has vomit and diarrhea through the house. The last bit of diarrhea is full of blood again. He is laying around and will only move around a little. We did get him to drink a little and has a vet appt tomorrow, but now after reading your blogs, I’m wondering if they will only give him something that will make it worse. Any advice would be much appreciated.

  3. Carolyn Gates on October 10, 2019 at 5:03 pm

    I too have noticed that my sheltie does not feel well after taking Interceptor. It seems to affect her immune system and make her prone to infections. So what do you give the dog to keep her from getting heartworms without giving the Interceptor. I have thought of enclosing her kennel with screen and not allowing her outside unless we have to go to the vet. My dog has a 12 x 43 kennel with kennel decks on the ground. Her feet never touch dirt or grass. She is 10 years old and has a compromised liver and hypothyroidism. Anal gland issues occur during the months of Interceptor dosing as well. What do I do? I know it is all related to the heartworm prevention protocol.

  4. Larry on January 22, 2019 at 9:40 pm

    10,000 dollars later and ibd do severe we need to hive him prednisone and antibiotics injections ourselves. Has anyone sued heart guard. Started the day after his pill.with vomiting. The bloody diarrhea the next day ..pure water. In icu for over a week . Still touch and go. Biopsy showed severe ibd the worst they have seen

  5. Atty on April 24, 2018 at 4:09 pm

    Hello Doc, I have a few concerns I hope you can quell if this post is still active. I have a 9 year old bestie, Belgian shepherd/retriever mix, and we lived in the high Rockies until last year when we moved to the coast of NC. A dramatic change to say the least, but she acclimated well. She had never had heartworm meds before we moved, and the threat of such a thing was next to none, on top of living a fairly holistic lifestyle with homemade meals and herbal remedies for minor normal things like hay fever (her eyes get goopy sometimes), things like that. But at the recommendation of our new vet she started taking tri-heart plus last year. Sometimes after taking it I can just tell she feels…wibbly wobbly. Just not herself you know? Last night she had her monthly, and today she vomited four times within an hour, blood present and getting progressively worse until stopping abruptly and now she’s resting with that wobbly look. I expect it to be worse next month, and from what I’ve read it’s a common side effect so am hesitant to both give it to her and to not. I’m not convinced garlic would keep her safe from bites in the mosquito capitol, and I don’t want to continue use of something making my girl feel so awful month after month until she’s potentially needing medical attention. What are your thoughts; any insight or ideas I could follow up on or take to my vet? Thanks so much!

    • Will Falconer, DVM on April 25, 2018 at 11:20 am

      It’s just never made sense to me to think that giving a pesticide on a monthly basis to a dog is somehow going to translate into better health. Hello? What are they thinking (they being those who vend them and those who buy into this world view)?
      Those who follow my drug-free protocol can truly say their dog gets healthier the LONGER they use it. Can anyone using monthly pesticides truly say the same? I seriously doubt it.

  6. Claire Grove on April 19, 2018 at 5:47 pm

    Our five year old Norwegian Elkhound passed. She seemed to have slowed down some. Acting as if her teeth were bothering her vet did blood work which revealed low platlets or itp. They said her stomach was upset from the prednisone and immunosuppresant. Then her red blood cells dropped. She had bloody diareah and because of a stroke passed. We are terribly sad and wonder what we could have done differently. I want to know what caused the itp. Any thoughts?

  7. Rachel D Putman on April 9, 2018 at 11:04 am

    Hello Dr,
    I know that this is a considerably older post but I’m hoping to get a response none the less.
    I also know you cannot give medical advice legally without my dog being a patient of yours.
    So generally speaking, could a dog with CCD that is 16 years old who has not shown any very serious symptoms with the disease and has seemed stable relapse horribly after taking heartworm medicine in your opinion?
    He’s shown the regular symptoms of CCD but I have been able to for the most part control them.
    I gave him his regular dose of Tri heart one week ago and he is having trouble walking, and showing super agitation.
    When he’s not on his trazodone regularly now he will have bouts of running through the house and slamming into walls.
    A week ago the trazodone was keeping him to sleep all night. Now it’s barely affecting him and he is staying awake screaming all night.
    He has been seen by to veterinarian here but they are both telling me that I should euthanize.
    I am just wondering if I should give it a little bit more time and see if it was the medicine and it goes out of his system.
    So again, generally speaking, do you think that may be a good idea?

    • Will Falconer, DVM on April 9, 2018 at 12:41 pm

      You’ll have to tell me what CCD is, but I know (from Dr. Dodds’ work) that any dose of a HW pesticide can make one sick, at any point in their years of taking it.

  8. Amanda on October 15, 2017 at 10:28 am

    My 8 lb dog just died this morning. She has never had any medical problems and was up to date on her shots. I gave her HW prevention 2 days ago. She vomited later that day but seemed fined after & the next day. Last night she was clearing her throat/coughing a bit but also seemed ok. Thi s morning I found her dead on the kitchen floor with blood pooling out of her mouth. Could this be due to the HW prevention?

  9. Sarah on May 6, 2017 at 10:45 am

    I gave my 5 year old boxer mix her monthly heartworm preventative on May 2. I went to work around 8:15am (she seemed just fine), came home at 4:30pm to a strong stench of urine & ammonia only to realize she’d had an accident in her kennel (it was a very dark yellow). Minutes later I took her outside and noticed she had UTI-like symptoms (straining to urinate, panicking to go outside only to urinate a few drops, red/orange urine). I collected urine for her vet appointment and realized it was brown (coffee-color). She seemed fine otherwise (drank water, ate about half of her food that night, no indication of pain). She had a runny orange bowel movement that evening. She did need to urinate about every 2 hours in the night and had a runny bowel movement (could not indicate the color in the dark) around 2am.
    By morning her urine was lighter (back to orange/red). There was no indication of bacteria or UTI in the urinalysis at the vet’s office. The urinalysis showed a PH level of 8.2, signs of protein, a trace of blood, and a trace of squamous cells. X-rays showed no obstructions or tumors, CBC only showed slightly lower platelet counts (not too alarming). Her gallbladder was slightly enlarged but was not considered to be an issue. She did express tenderness when the vet pressed on her abdomen. All other counts and measurements were well within normal ranges. Lyme & ehrylichea tests came back clear. Coombs test produced a weak positive so a round of steroids was prescribed for precaution along with an antibiotic with a follow-up scheduled in 12 days.
    By 10am the day after symptoms began her urine was back to normal. She continues to show no signs of illness, has normal urine & bowel movements, and is eating her food with no vomiting.
    My gut told me (before reading this article) the heartworm preventative caused this. The timing is just too perfect. There is very little out there when I researched the connection until I found this article. Unfortunately our vet is very conventional and I’m sure he will insist on continuing HWP. In fact, when I mentioned I gave it to her that morning, he scoffed and said the HWP wouldn’t have caused any of this. I would very much like to find more research on this to take to him for our follow up, particularly Dr. Dodds’ paper.
    We have another dog on HWP who has never had issues but we will remove him from HWP as well. Hoping to get some advice on any natural preventatives.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on May 6, 2017 at 11:30 am

      I’m with you 100% Sarah. The drug sent her into screaming, “Get this poison out of my body!” Kidneys caught the brunt of it, maybe her bile production (stored in the gall bladder).
      Unfortunately, the steroids told her, “Stop all this response. Everything’s just fine.” So, you may see the other shoe drop in a month or so.
      Your timing of reading this article is fortunate. I’ve got a sale on my natural HW protocol on just until Sunday, and it includes a bonus: my homeopathic Detox Protocol, which I’d highly recommend you use for your girl ASAP. She’ll thank you for the help.
      Going forward, if you use my drug free HW prevention protocol, you’ll only see better and better health the longer you are on it. Here’s where you can find that: https://vitalanimal.com/drugfreeheartworm/
      All the best.

      • Sarah Laux on May 6, 2017 at 12:55 pm

        Thank you for your quick response! Yes, after reading this, I was beginning to wonder what is next for us. Will more symptoms arise after steroids? Were the lowered platelets and weak positive Coombs test something she’ll deal with permanently or were they a one-time thing? I guess we’ll have to wait and see. However, her symptoms (Brown urine, bile concentrated bowel movements) subsided before we began steroids (or any medications) – 26 hours after she took her HWP in fact – so I’m hopeful.
        I did purchase your HW protocol deal and received the Detox Protocol in my inbox but have yet to receive the ebook or audiobook. Can you assist please?
        I am currently searching for a homeopathic vet near me (I’m only 20 minutes from St. Louis). I prefer holistic/functional medicine for my own health conditions brought on by conventional medicine so it only makes sense to do the same for her.
        Thank you – I am ecstatic I found this resource!

  10. Elaine on March 14, 2017 at 9:47 am

    Hello,
    I just read your article on Heartworm Pills after spending days searching the internet for reasons my dog is so sick and if she could potentially have had a reaction to her Heartgard.
    Just over a month ago I gave my dog her monthly Heartgard treat that she has taken for over eight years. The next morning we woke up to her vomiting and this continued throughout the day and into the next. I took her to the vet who did blood work and an X-ray to check for an obstruction. Everything came back normal including the special test they did on her pancreas. They gave me anti nausea medicine and that helped for the three days she was on it then back to vomiting. Another round of normal x rays and they were clueless. Thought maybe she was vomiting from being in pain because she was walking slow, stopped going up and down the porch steps, began panting and shaking with increased heart rate. That seemed to just make her even more sleepy and the vomiting continued. Trip to another vet, who told me to have an ultrasound done. Trip to a third vet for ultrasound. He found some gallbladder and duct inflammation. Started Denamarin but her gallbladder wasn’t improving so he switched to Ursodiol. More blood work: normal. Barium x ray showed stomach ulcers but everything else looked normal. Started omeprazole. Showed some improvement but then developed diarrhea so we started a probiotic. That helped the diarrhea. We finished her rx for omeprazole. Had another comprehensive ultrasound with nearly 50 images sent over to a board certified radiologist who said everything looked mostly normal however he advised that she be tested for Cushings. Discontinued all medication. Test came back positive. She was doing well. Eating again and no vomiting for over a week. She was a week past due for her Heartgard so I gave her her next dose before starting treatment of vetoryl for cushings and within 12 hours of taking the Heartgard she was back to vomiting. At two points throughout those five weeks she was on two different antibiotics as well.
    In short, my eight year old, spunky Bichon who was full of energy lost five pounds in five weeks and acts more like an 18 year old dog. She just started vomiting again Sunday night after taking her Heartgard earlier that day. My gut tells me this all started from the Heartgard because it’s too coincidental. Is there a way to reverse the effects? I will NOT be giving her any more and will research other options. But she’s been on it for eight years and has had no other problems up to this point. Any advice would be more than appreciated!

    • Will Falconer, DVM on March 17, 2017 at 10:33 am

      Unbelievable, Elaine. I can only imagine you spent thousands of dollars on this fiasco and you’re now no further ahead. I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through this.
      Your dog will benefit most from leaving conventional medicine, especially now, as they have no great answers to fixing what’s become a chronic disease in short order. Hire a homeopathic vet, one who does mostly or only homeopathy in his/her practice (these are the dedicated ones) and if no one is in your area (which is all too common), choose one who also does phone consultations. This can be reversed, but it’ll take some careful patient management, and a trained professional can provide that.
      If you’re in No. America, start with my Resources page and scroll down to the AVH list. Choose “special search” to get those two parameters to show you just those vets who match. Best of luck through this. There is cure at the end of the tunnel, but conventional medicine can’t get you there w/o doing more damage.

      • Elaine on March 25, 2017 at 11:06 pm

        Thank you, Dr. Falconer! I have located a vet using your resources page about 45 minutes away from us that specializes in Homeopathy and Homotoxicology among other things. Do you think that one would be what we are looking for? I will call there Monday for more information and schedule an appointment.
        Thank you for your reply and your resources!
        Elaine

        • Will Falconer, DVM on March 27, 2017 at 5:05 am

          Hi Elaine,
          It’d be better to find someone who’s certified by the AVH, and practices straight up classical homeopathy. Homotoxicology is something else and should be not confused with homeopathy.
          Again (and this is key): proximity to you is far less important than the kind of medicine they practice.
          Best of luck getting your little girl back on track.

  11. Bethberisford on July 27, 2016 at 9:31 am

    very interesting I never used to give heartworm pills to dogs. I don’t even think they had heartworm medicine 40 years ago

  12. Donna Harris on April 10, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    I watched Barking Mad and was absolutely stunned by what the head of the vet college was saying. It really turned me off vets, at least, the standard vet who tries to sell me everything. I grew up not getting my dog vaccinated because my mother didn’t believe in it except for the scare of rabies by vets. Then, I acquired my first purebred dog. The breeder recommended not vaccinating. I went with that. I now have rescue dogs. Yes, of course, they were both vaccinated before they came to my house, sadly. They both had their own issues with being absolutely itchy and the other one went to skin and bones with a diagnosis of borderline EPI. Put him on enzymes which kind of helped but then he just didn’t improve. Went to a different vet for blood work. His levels were perfect. They both went on raw. I sadly gave them both a rabies vaccines out of fear because I had to board one dog. I now sign a waiver and will never vaccinate, again. I’m amazed at how good I feel about not giving heartworm meds (never have) etc. or vaccinating, anymore. Thank goodness for the vets like you. Knowledge is such power rather than accepting whatever a vet/doctor tells you. Thank you for doing this.

    • Lauren on July 14, 2016 at 1:29 pm

      Thank you all for writing in this column, especially thank you Donna. I am like you, stop giving my 2 dachshunds HWP about 2 years now. One is 14 and the other is 10 years old. I feed them raw. They don’t look like their age, and nobody can believe their age. Sophie and Louis are very active, full of life. I take them to the vet to check for heartworm twice a year, and use mosquito repellent oil for dogs on their hair before I walk them or take them outside. My vet did persuade me to buy the HWP and I did but I still keep them in the cupboard in the kitchen.
      I have been asking myself whether is there anyone out there does what I do for their pets? Now that I know there are, I am more sure of myself about my choice.

  13. Scott Farley on January 18, 2016 at 9:48 pm

    My dog has heartworm he’s just started on his pills but keeps throwing up a few hours after taking them

    • Will Falconer, DVM on January 19, 2016 at 7:58 am

      Hi Scott,
      So, he tested positive for heartworm? And they are treating him with pills to prevent it? What are they?

  14. Nicole on May 6, 2014 at 8:06 am

    I have been reading about homeopathics for heartworm for years. I understand that the current prescription drugs are very harmful and not ideal but your blogs give no indications why I would want to buy your book to figure out what the remedy you suggest is. There are so many homeopathic vets who suggest there are no solutions for preventative with homeopathics but regular testing and treating when found. Plus preventing mosquitoes are key. Is there research that I can look into more specifically to understand some of your underlying ideas versus just bashing current options? I won’t purchase a book with no idea what I am looking at if for. All I know is it apparently has a solution – even some hints as to what I will be looking at would get me more intrigued.
    Nicole

    • Will Falconer, DVM on May 6, 2014 at 8:24 am

      Hi Nicole,
      While I’m a homeopathic veterinarian, I’m not suggesting there’s a homeopathic remedy to replace toxic heartworm prevention drugs. I’d hardly have produced over 50 pages of well thought out information to do that. One page would have done it, if that.
      No, this book is not about substituting a natural product for a toxic one. It’s ultimately about getting your animal so bullet proof to disease in general that heartworm resistance is a mere by product. By its nature, this is a holistic approach, and I spell out what I see over the years as the key areas that can be improved upon to build resistance.
      It’s a common misuse of the word “holistic” to imagine it means using a “natural” product for in place of a drug. We’ve got to think far beyond that. And that’s where I’ve gone with my book.

  15. C.J. on February 25, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    I have had my 9-year-old dog, who I rescued 3 years ago, to a holistic vet in the North Texas area for the past few months to seek help with severe skin issues that I am positive are due to over-vaccination in the past and antibiotics that our regular vet had prescribed a couple of times back before I realized it was not the right thing to dod. She is some better, thank goodness. I had taken her off heartworm preventative before seeing the holistic vet, but holistic vet insists that she has to have it due to a damaged immune system. I am soooo confused, and don’t feel “right” about giving her the heartworm prev., but the vet has me terrified of her getting heartworms. I am going to order your book right away, Dr. Will, but wondering if there’s any validity to this vet’s stance. I feel like I’m damned if I do; damned if I don’t!

  16. Nancy on April 17, 2013 at 7:13 am

    Hi Dr. Will,
    Every time I try to tell my vet about the dangers of heart worm meds, they go off on a tangent about the warm winters and more coyotes having heart worm. Can you explain to me what their rationale is about this?

    • Will Falconer, DVM on April 17, 2013 at 5:12 pm

      Hi Nancy,
      Do you notice a kind of glazed over look in the eyes when they tell you this? Almost like they’ve said it a hundred times before? Any dollar signs visible in the eyes?
      It’s the same lack of rational reasoning that keeps vets vaccinating annually, even though it’s been publicized in every vet journal for more than 20 years that this practice lacks merit, is risky, and should stop. This, coming from the experts, immunologists, even the vet schools and specialty organizations, like the Feline Practitioners.
      And most have no idea about building resistance naturally. They’ve been trained to think it takes drugs and vaccines to keep an animal “well,” even though the outcome from that approach is failing them left and right.

  17. Will Falconer, DVM on April 16, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    Hey Doria,
    Yes, Dr. Dodds is quite the researcher to have on our side.
    And, hey, on this blog, we don’t hide names, as you may have noticed on my posts on Banfield, so go ahead: tell the folks who made the parvo vaccine. Though, truth be known, parvovirus is a significant immune suppressor, whether in the wild or from any company’s syringe!

  18. Doria Ragoczy-McPherson on April 16, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    Hi, Dr Will!
    Dr Jean is one of my heros, though I’ve never actually met her. A whippet of mine, Whippoorwill Sasson, F. Ch., and her best friend, a Whippet named Ch. O’Bailee’s Brittania, were among the first documented cases of AIHA, back in 1991, when Dr Dodds was just making the connection between Parvo Vaccine (we won’t name the company!) and AIHA. As a consulting Vet, she tried so hard to save them.
    I’m glad Dr Jean’s taking aim at the toxic chemicals that supposedly prevent heartworm infestation, too. I still don’t use them on my Whippets. I give them Bug Off Garlic daily, and you should see the mosquitos dive-bomb my dogs like miniature fighter planes….then peel off at the last instant, as if they had the WRONG TARGET!!! I don’t mind a few mosquito bites on myself, since I can’t get heartworm!!!

  19. Scherry Hodges on April 16, 2013 at 9:33 am

    Going heartworm prevention free is hard. But we are doing it. I am amazed how deeply imprinted I am with fear of this disease. It is an irrational fear though, and I am glad to realize it so that we can move forward into supreme vitality! We are so grateful to Dr. Falconer and the other vets who are stepping up and leading the way to sanity and well being for our beloved pets. Jan, we wish you and Angel a safe and comfortable journey on your way to better health. She is so cute! A little doll! Thank you for sharing your story!!! Love, Scherry & TENCHU (aka: the heartworm positive dog who was always on heartworm preventatives-Sentinal & Trifexis)

    • Cj hammond on February 29, 2016 at 1:15 pm

      You should be afraid of
      Heartworms attacking your pet. I’m not saying the
      Standard preventative is safe but I very quickly lost a dear little dog when I was sick and could
      Not pay for my
      Own meds not to mention hers.

  20. Don Carson on April 16, 2013 at 8:15 am

    I had purchased the drug-free heartworm prevention program back last year July 9 2012 and computer crashed. What do I need to do?

    • Will Falconer, DVM on April 16, 2013 at 9:32 am

      Hi Don,
      I’ve got my help desk aware of your issue, and she’ll be sure you get your book. Thanks.

    • michele on July 18, 2019 at 7:51 pm

      my dog is in the er bloated stomach and was druling all over the place red blood count high and vomited sometime after I gave him his heart worm pill this all happened . came home from shopping . he has had the hw pills for three years now what do you all think . I am waiting on results for another dr to read the xrays can you believe that you go to a expensive er and there not sure about the xray .. .how do you keep them safe from worms with out the pills . thaks

      • Kathy on August 1, 2019 at 8:24 am

        Same thing happened to my dog in June. Her belly filled up with air. She went to ER with rapid heart rate and dry heaving. They had to put a tube down her nose to drain 600 ml of air out of her stomach. All the day after I gave her heartgard plus.

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