Walk With Me: Curing Lily’s Heartworm Without Drugs | Episode 3

I don't care how big you are, you touch my donut and you die.

I don’t care how big you are, you touch my donut and you die.

Heartworm Treatment: Still Drug Free, Still Homeopathic

Lily had her check up this past week, to evaluate her homeopathic heartworm treatment, assessing where she is on the road to curing her heartworm infestation. While she looks fit as a fiddle, something was, well, odd.
As you’ll recall Margo learned of this diagnosis under duress and with overtones of condemnation in March of this year. That’s when she brought 11 year old Lily, the gregarious little Dachshund, in to be spayed, after her prior two heats had been unusually long. It was her first visit to Dr. WhiteCoat in Lily’s entire life, and it was the beginning of her decline in health.
Why would a vet visit result in a decline in health?

Lily received her first ever vaccination. If you haven’t already read my thoughts on this, I’ll tell you now: I consider a vaccination to be the strongest predictor of future chronic disease of all the decisions you will ever make for your animals. Or your kids.

Vaccinosis: A Force to be Reckoned With

True to form, as we saw in the last episode, Lily started manifesting the commonest chronic disease that dogs do when vaccines have mucked with their immune systems by being injected right past all the innate defenses Nature took eons to develop:
The Itch.
Allergic dermatitis. The commonest disease that fuels the conventional veterinary economy. In 2012, pet allergies accounted for $7 million spent by consumers who use VPI, a pet insurance provider. That’s not counting those many pet owners without insurance who lost sleep to the itch plaguing their companions.
It was largely this itch, the history of vaccinations, Lily’s intolerance to heat, and increased thirst that lead to her last prescription of the remedy sulphur, given in a single 10M potency dose. As Episode 1 revealed, her first prescription was another vaccinosis remedy called thuja 10M, which brought some nice response: a shinier coat, more bounce and energy, and a brief cough that resolved on its own.

Evaluating Lily’s Second Remedy Response

How did little Lily do after this last remedy of sulphur, given May 6, 2014? Did this step in her heartworm treatment make a difference?
In Margo’s words,

Her health, vitality, energy, all seem great. She is as normal as ever from what I can see!”

More good news:

  • Panting went away (she’d acted hot before this dose, even before exerting, just going out).
  • No further coughing or sneezing.
  • Her thirst had dropped from being high after her first remedy to just normal now.

But there was more, as I’d hoped for, and I dug in, searching for clues of symptoms that might lead me to my next prescription. Remember, it’s common to need more than one remedy to bring about a cure of a chronic disease, and in the majority of my heartworm cases that have been cured, it’s taken about six months to get them to “notice” the heartworms and kick them completely out. We are now about two months into the process with Lily.
Here’s what Lily was “talking about” since her last dose was given:

  1. Lily’s oddly ashen colored anus had cleared up, but she had been scooting (dragging her anus) regularly.
  2. She’d stopped chewing her nails and licking her feet, but boy howdy, she really loved to roll on her back in the grass!
  3. About a week after her sulphur, Lily’s left eye began weeping for two weeks before clearing on its own.
  4. Also a while after her remedy, and without any diet change to explain it, Lily had stools that were softer than normal and quite yellow. That lasted for a couple of weeks, then resolved on its own.
  5. Concurrently with the stool oddness, Lily briefly had bad breath.
  6. Lily, especially when on her leash, showed greater irritability toward other dogs, especially if they were bigger than her (gulp!).

A Hurried Prescription

It was then, in the midst of head scratching a bit, trying to get the “whole Lily” picture and match it with a remedy that could move her further down the path towards cure, that Margo informed me of some unusual budgetary constraints that would preclude my further analysis. I looked at her symptoms and my last analysis and made my decision:
Rx Mercurius vivus 10M, one dose.
Admittedly, there wasn’t a lot bothering Lily, but she clearly had some symptoms to work with. The remedy mercury, made from that highly poisonous metal that many of us had in our dental fillings and that we’d been warned not to play with in science class could create some of these symptoms if taken in excess by healthy people.

The Underpinnings of Homeopathic Prescribing: Similarity

That’s how homeopathy works: like cures like. When experimenting with various substances (so called homeopathic “provings”), early homeopathic physicians took repeated doses of remedies made from the substances until symptoms were provoked. If enough people proving a remedy came up with the same symptoms, it was learned that this substance could cause these symptoms in the healthy. This was all catalogued in books called materia medicae, and these books can be referenced today.
[Interesting how the “guinea pigs” were humans in this field of homeopathy, isn’t it? And we now apply their results to the animals. There’s a sweet irony in this.]
The understanding was that any patient presenting with these particular symptoms could then be stimulated to cure themselves by giving a more highly diluted remedy of that same substance. So, with Lily, I knew her symptoms matched mercury’s pretty closely.
Here’s what the materia medica on mercury has to say:
Stools: dark green, bilious, frothy; like stirred eggs…yellowish; yellow; color of sulphur (lots more, including diarrhea and straining that didn’t particularly fit Lily’s case)
Anus feels raw, chafed. Itching of anus.
Burning pain in anus, with soft stools.
Eyes: Profuse lachrymation (tearing, watery discharge)
Mouth: Fetid odor… can smell it all over room. (Mercury patients often drool as well, though I’d not heard that mentioned for Lily).
Mind: …threatens to kill who approach. Irascible, impatient, discontented, fault-finding. Mistrustful. Everyone is an enemy; surrounded by enemy.
In addition, merc is one of the remedies which has the symptom of itchiness following vaccination, and it is a significant worm remedy, though there are many remedies in both categories. I suspect there’ll be enough similarity between merc’s symptoms and Lily’s that we’ll see a positive response.

The Big Picture: Extinguishing Lily’s Susceptibility

In the end, I’m steering her ship toward the calm, clear waters of cure and, in chronic disease at least, that course correction is a bit like turning an ocean liner. Incremental improvements over time in the Whole Lily will be her heartworm treatment, ultimately. Significantly different than the usual heartworm treatment of poisoning the worms with arsenic compounds.
From the above linked page, written by a couple of conventional vets:

  • Melarsomine has to be injected deep into the muscles of the back and the injections can be quite painful. Often pain medications are given concurrently with the melarsomine injections to reduce the level of discomfort for the dog.
  • The most important thing for a dog being treated for heartworm disease is complete rest. Strict confinement is essential during the heartworm treatment period and for at least one month following the last melarsomine injection. During the recovery period, embolism of dying worms is a major concern. This means that the dying worms cause obstructions in the blood vessels in the lungs. Exercise increases the risk of embolism, thereby increasing the risk of serious side effects.
  • If your dog starts to cough, has nosebleeds, develops a fever or is acting abnormally otherwise, you should consult your veterinarian immediately.

No Pain, Plenty of Gain

We’ll not expect any pain in Lily’s heartworm treatment, and she’s been anything but confined to strict rest! She’s a Dachshund, and has a job to do on every walk (which now includes getting into the big dogs’ business, it sounds like!). She’ll not have nosebleeds or other untoward reactions.
Why? Lily’s homeopathic heartworm treatment has only one goal: get Lily so healthy that parasites cannot possibly live in her body. Can you imagine what the side effects of that treatment look like? She’s showing some already, like her shiny coat and more pep in her step.
Have you had a dog go through conventional heartworm treatment? How did that go? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to subscribe to Vital Animal News so you can continue to follow Lily’s progress.
p.s. If you are looking for a homeopathic veterinarian to help you with heartworm treatment or anything else, please see the AVH list on this page. Could be there’s someone near you, or at least someone willing to help you by telephone.
p.p.s. Here, for easy reference are Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, if you’re coming late to the party.

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  1. Ashley D. on August 25, 2018 at 11:22 am

    I’m so glad I found this story on Lily! After helping my neighbor bury her beloved dog yesterday I feel the need to dive deeper into the health of my precious lab mix because if something were to happen to her that I could have prevented, I would be devastated. She’s a healthy, 6 year old lab mix that tested positive (light positive) about 3 years ago for heartworms. I was told to give a monthly preventative of heart guard as a treatment for a slow kill of the worms. I haven’t had her tested for heartworms since, but only rely on the preventative. However, when I stumbled upon HWF (Heart Worm Free) tonight while unable to sleep and worrying that there was something more I could do for the health of my dog….I jumped all over it and will cease the heart guard preventative and start HWF as soon as the bottle arrives. I’ll be researching to find out everything I can from this website. I treat my children holistically, so my pets deserve the same. I’m curious about alternatives to vaccinations as well as a raw diet. Thank you for this website and all the wonderful resources you guys have made available!

    P.S. My neighbor’s dog didn’t die of old age or chronic illness that they know of, but most likely torision of the stomach and organ failure as he was bloated beyond belief and he smelled like death even before suddenly passing away. R.I.P. sweet Magnum.

  2. Destiny on August 7, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    Curious to read more about how Lily is doing!!

  3. DM on July 5, 2014 at 8:21 am

    Thank you Dr Falconer for this informative series of articles regarding heartworm positive vs HW disease. It’s the 1st I have found which mirrors my situation and belief system.
    My question: Can an ultrasound provide any clinical assistance in a HW case that will be treated holistically? To tell you how many adults there are, their location, size, etc? Would knowing this information change how you approach a case at all?
    My situation sounds similar to Lily’s. My 7 yr old just tested positive to heartworm (babies & adults). She has no symptoms. She has been naturally reared and homeopathically treated since conception. She was previously unsuppressed until an emergency c-section to deliver a singleton. She is now testing HW positive while living in a climate where HW should be very low risk. We are treating her with a combination of HW nosodes (35C) and Ambertech’s HWF. Going herbal in this individual situation just feels right rather than my typical classical homeopathy only. My integrative vet gave her a thorough exam. Her opinion is her vital force seems to be handling these heartworms appropriately but she does need to be treated. She was unsure whether an ultrasound by a cardiologist might put important clinical information on the table to work with. An article from Dogs Naturally Magazine seems to indicate this is a necessary part of the workup.
    Your thoughts????? I look forward to your opinion.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on July 5, 2014 at 8:58 am

      Hi DM,
      I’ve never seen the need for ultrasound as I’m not treating the worms, I’m only treating the sick dog. It might make a difference if your approach, holistic or otherwise, is killing worms. I can’t speak to that.
      Over the years, I’ve treated probably close to 20 cases like this, and only remember one “failing,” which only meant the test remained positive, the old dog had few to no symptoms, and finally died of old age, not heartworms.
      I think you’ll do far better for a dog who’s given birth to a single pup and now has parasites to treat constitutionally. The inherited “taint” is showing through, and I know of nothing deeper than that approach to get the whole dog well. When you accomplish this, the worms will no longer have a home.
      Best of luck with her.

  4. Cindy Lankenau on June 24, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    to all;
    It looks like HWF is really improving the immune system,and improving the body’s ability to handle toxic wastes (dead worms), and very clever to use grapefruit seed extract.
    The Grapefruit seed extract would also kill the spirochetes that live in the Heart worms making the Heart worms even easier to kill.
    It looks like a nice supportive formula so the body can handle the dying worms; both physically and any emotional symptoms of anxiety as the worms are dying.
    Cindy Lankenau, DVM, RH (AHG)

    • Will Falconer, DVM on June 24, 2014 at 6:53 pm

      Thanks Cindy. I appreciate your herbal knowledge and help on answering this question.

  5. Anne Garcia on June 24, 2014 at 12:48 am

    In regards to Lisa Jewell post on 6/23. Also in regards to Kathie Richards post on 6/23/14. I’m new here first of all so may all bear with me. Thank You Lisa for mentioning this alternative treatment. I hope there is continued success. I’ve never heard of HWF by Amber Technology or heard of Amber Technology. Like both of you I’m also curious to know what Dr. Falconer can uncover about this product and offer his opinion. Awaiting your reply Dr. Falconer. I can’t express enough how valuable the info you freely share with so many is. If only I’d had a computer 30 yrs ago.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on June 24, 2014 at 5:07 am

      Welcome Anne! We’re glad you’ve stopped in and welcome your input. There is a big world out there now that computers have put so much at our fingertips!
      I hope my litter corner of the net offers value to the animal people who seek a healthier path.

  6. Lisa Jewell on June 23, 2014 at 8:27 am

    I am on the board of Chouteau Pound Pals, a no-kill, non-profit shelter located in a small town in NE Oklahoma. We had 2 HW+ dogs in our shelter and I just happened upon a product called HWF by Amber Technology. It is a natural alternative to the traditional HW treatment and was something that we could easily administer at the pound because the dogs do not have to be confined at all during treatment. They suggest a HW test after 9 weeks of treatment and if the dog still tests positive, continue the treatment and test again at 6months. One dog tested negative after 9 weeks of treatment and the other dog tested positive, but the Vet called it a “light positive” (?). We were extremely happy that we could treat these dogs easily and safely in a shelter environment and do it for a lot less money!
    Are you familiar with the product? What are your thoughts on it?

    • Kathi Richards on June 23, 2014 at 1:00 pm

      I too would be curious about your take on this product Dr Falconer. I am lucky that I don’t live in a heartworm area yet knowledge is power. I am thoroughly enjoying this adventure with Lily. Thank you.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on June 24, 2014 at 5:00 am

      Looking only at data supplied by the company, I can see they’ve apparently done some careful work (and gotten better results over the few years they’ve done trials). Being a homeopath myself, I can’t comment on the formula, which is herbal. Perhaps a member of the veterinary herbalist’s group would have a better take on it.
      I’ll do this: I have a colleague in this latter group, who’s also a homeopath, and I’ll see if she’d comment for us. Stay tuned.

  7. Ann Jackson on June 22, 2014 at 11:44 pm

    I had waited 20 years to get my own dog so was really excited to pick up a fat, healthy German Shepherd puppy five years ago next month. I put off having her vaccinations as long as possible. However, it had too be done and within five minutes of her final vaccine she had explosive diarrhea which basically I then struggled to control for the rest of her short life. From that point on her body would become allergic to almost every food we tried her on. I went down the allopathic route initially but it was a Caninne Dietician and homeopathy that kept her alive. When she was two years old she needed to have te kennel cough vaccine as I had to go away for work and I could find no kennels that would take her. It was a disaster – she started to lose weight – went from an already underweight 29 kilos to 24 kilos in four weeks. Was still high energy and enjoying life but I knew she was slowly slipping away. Once again homeopathy brought her back and I managed to stop the diarrhea. The damage had been done however and a year later she collapsed and died suddenly from cancer. Despite being a trained homeopath I couldn’t save her from the damage of that initial vaccine – but for the short time she was with me her vitality and love off life was a blessing as well as a lesson to enjoy every moment with the one you love.
    I now have a wonderful rescue GS who came to me full off allergies ( again) and emotional damage. Homeopathy and diet have sorted out the itching and discharge and together with patience and love has produced a balanced, happy girl

    • Will Falconer, DVM on June 24, 2014 at 4:49 am

      Oh Ann! I’m so sorry you had to go through this with your GS gal. It sounds like she was the post child for the harm possible from vaccinations.
      Perhaps her story is her greatest gift to a broader audience. Those who are seeking a greater understanding of natural health in the animals, upon hearing this story, may take it more deeply and think twice about that “only one” vaccination.
      Thank you for sharing this with us. It’s truly a cautionary tale, and I hope it opens others eyes as it did yours.

  8. Darci Michaels on June 22, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    i had a golden retriever. I rescued her from a life of living outside 24-7 She was a mess; full of hotspots, her fur was missing and she was oozing pus. Her fur was also matted and she was skin and bones. She had heart worm. I put her on a raw diet. Stopped any conventional treatments of any kind. However, not knowing a Homeopath then I opted to use a conventional treatment. The vet told me she was going to spread the heart worm to other dogs. Belle was restricted from movement for about a month or more. I remember her back being arched in the middle after the injection. She was clearly in pain. She continued to get better and thrived for a while. One day about 2 years after treatment she collapsed and would not move. Rushed her to the vet. Her heart was enlarged and her stomach was full of cancer. Just like that. We put her down the next day. I was heart broken. It was so fast.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on June 22, 2014 at 9:44 pm

      Oh, poor girl. Life was hard for her and you did what you could, Darci.
      Thanks for sharing her story with us.

      • Anne Garcia on June 24, 2014 at 12:23 am

        Darcy, you did all you could for Belle. You rescued her!! Showed her what love is. So many never get a second chance. I’m very sorry for your loss of her. Please take comfort in all you gave and showed her. A friend of mine has always had Goldens and every one of them succumbed to cancer eventually. I’m convinced every breed has their own predisposition to specific medical conditions,some chronic and some that eventually alter their lifespan.