Walk With Me: Curing Lily’s Heartworm Without Drugs | Episode 5

Lily the Dachshund, watching from her new position: in a laundry basket.

I’m watching, you varmints. My home, my rules.

When we last left our little heroine Lily the Dachshund, we were four months into curing her of heartworms using only homeopathy as her medicine. She’d been through some pretty weird symptoms, all spewing forth after her prior remedy of mercurius vivus, her third prescription.
You may recall, she began acting like she was on hallucinogens. Spaced out, distracted, not all there.
This was followed by an absolute fixation on eating all things dead until she finally went into a major purge of urgent diarrhea.
(Mom! I gotta go out! Right NOW!!)
A few hellish days of that, sprinkled with a couple of vomits, and Lily was back to being her happy, healthy self.
[You can start at the beginning here, if you are just joining us in Lily’s homeopathic heartworm treatment saga.]

Stool Stories. Shhh.

Lily’s appointment came around again this week, to evaluate her response to her last remedy, graphites 1M, given a month ago.
On the whole, Lily is still a largely healthy dog. Margo says she’s battled a few fleas which seem to be bursting out in her area, and she’s taken up residence in a laundry basket, where she can safely and surely survey her domain.
Probably making sure no lions are invading, things like that. Like most of her breed, she takes her guard duties pretty seriously.
As we discussed her further, it came to light that her old symptom of not drinking much had come back. And that’s brought about some hard, dry stools that look more like balls instead of logs.
[Margo was home when we had the “stool chat.” Others are not so lucky, being in their work cubicles, in earshot of coworkers. “So, tell me about her stools, then,” say I. “Oh, they’re normal,” my client responds. “What about that slimy mucus that used to cover them? Or the horrendous odor you were noting last month?” At this point, voices usually drop, and I know it’s difficult to tell the full story and have to apologize later to wide eyed coworkers. “Oh, that? Heh heh, I was just talking to my homeopathic vet. He really needs to know all the gross details to help my animals. But everything’s fine. No, really.”]

Friendlier, Calmer, but Still “Out There?”

I learned that Lily is not so “in your face” to the new dogs she meets now. Occasionally a growl, a small dog’s version of ‘the best defense is a good offense,’ but that’s sounding pretty normal for someone her size. Earlier, some obvious leash aggression had helped my decision to prescribe mercurius, a remedy often corresponding to the state of high suspicion, like everyone is a potential enemy.
That all settled down now since graphites, and now she’s normally sociable in new dog meeting situations. That helps Margo relax when they’re out for walks.
But there’s a new behavior, too. Or, maybe more a permutation of what we saw earlier: the “not quite there” symptoms.
Lily is now licking the carpet. Nothing’s on it, she’s just licking it periodically. In a spaced out way.
I see patients do this now and again, so it’s not new to me, but it’s new to Lily, so it got highlighted in my notes.
As we use human’s descriptions of their symptoms to help choose remedies for animals, the nearest we can come to describing this in dogs is an old word called carphologia. The homeopathic dictionary defines carphologia as “an aimless, semi-conscious picking at the bedclothes… Often occurs in delirium of fever or (in a) stuporous condition.”
The dogs that do this are usually off in their own world, seemingly focused on this one activity to the exclusion of noticing much else going on around them. If called, they stop and look up, as expected.
I’ve never seen this behavior in a cat. Might the cribbing horse be in a similar state? And, though I’ve never seen it in a person, I have a good sense of what it must look like.
Anything to do with heartworms? No, just part of how Lily shows herself through her symptoms. Useful info, not worrisome at all.

The Good Things Remain Good

Lily still has no cough, for months now. She’s never lost her voracious appetite, even when things got weird a couple months back and even when she had her “I eat dead things!” -induced diarrhea.
She’s not been scooting, though she loves a good roll on her back. Lily’s eyes are free of tears and look normally bright and alert.
So, once more, I’m treating the patient who’s in front of me, “talking to me” with her symptoms. She’s certainly not a sick dog, but a homeopathic vet pays attention to symptoms as an indication that balance may not be fully there in the patient.
I mention this to my clients, who may be happy to just live with a few remaining symptoms, and if they really want to do this after my explanation, I don’t push it. “I’m here if you need me,” I say. “Keep an eye on those symptoms, and let me know if they get any worse,” I say.

Are Lily’s Heartworms 86’d?

That’s a good question. They could be, by now. We’ll know pretty shortly, as I’ve asked Margo to get a mobile vet over (one with holistic training, so no worries about more unnecessary shots) to test her once more. I don’t pull blood samples often enough anymore to do it well or I’d do it myself.
In my experience, it’s often a six month span of time to get the immune system back up and “noticing” the parasites that have set up housekeeping in the heart vessels. Mr. Piggy pleasantly surprised us by ridding himself of heartworms in just a few months.
One dog years ago went heartworm negative in 2 weeks! I didn’t give homeopathy the credit, as I’d only given one remedy and it didn’t make sense to me that heartworms could leave so fast. Maybe that positive test was a fluke. No, not that kind of worm, just, you know, a spurious test. A false positive. These tests have a margin of error, like any measurement.

Lily’s Next Remedy

But, seeing there were still a couple of symptoms hanging around, and an old one come back to roost (not drinking water), I went ahead and prescribed Lily’s fifth remedy:
Oyster-shell-on-endCalcarea carbonica.
Made from the shells of oysters, a non-Latin way to call it is simply calcium carbonate, one of the most ubiquitous minerals on the planet. And the remedy made from it serves a large number of patients, both human and animal.
Calc, as it’s abbreviated, seems a good fit for Lily, covering low thirst, stools in balls, and this distracted mental state. Calcarea carbonica is one of several worms remedies, as well. Often useful in the growing youngster plagued with worms.
The calc patient also tends to be persistent, even obstinate, and I get the sense that Lily doesn’t easily change gears. “Mom, I know you’re calling, but there’s a bird up there I’m watching. I can’t let this go just yet. She might fly. Or fall, and I could get her.”
The classic description from human homeopathic literature for the calc child is the one who is so engrossed in getting his puzzle or other project finished that he can’t let go of it, even if his parents are literally walking out the door to go somewhere and he needs to go, too. These guys are tenacious. They. Must. Finish. Their. Work. First.
The calc patient often eats strange stuff, too, even rocks or dirt or stool. Lily had her bout with that with all the carrion eating episodes earlier.
And, calc is one of the rabies miasm remedies, so it could fit her earlier aggressive stance, where she bristled at other dogs all too easily.
This may be Lily’s last remedy. We’ll see. I’ll be really pleased if she turns out to be heartworm negative in this test coming up. If not, it just means we’ve still got work to do. No worries for Lily. She’s got bigger realities to deal with.
Hey, was that a lion I just heard?

Addendum: after repeatedly contacting Margo to learn of Lily’s heartworm status and even offering to pay for the test myself, I’ve heard nothing back. Sorry to leave you hanging, but that’s the vagaries of homeopathic practice at times. “Lost to followup.”

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  1. Margaret Arnold on October 14, 2019 at 9:35 am

    I just read this whole story and am so bummed that Margo never finished following up with you.

  2. Jackie Hykaway on June 12, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    I think of Lily often and wonder how she’s doing. I just read your addendum and realize we’ll never know. Darn!

  3. Peter on January 16, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    I bought your natural Heartworm prevention booklet and I read it in one sitting, and it confirmed that I’m doing all of the right things (except day dare but I can’t afford to do that every day because I already spend close $300 a month on her raw diet of beef, chicken, buffalo, quail, lamb, green tripe and venison and I prefer the convenience of having it done for me so I don’t get the ratio of meat/organ/bone wrong, preparing it takes time I don’t have, and including time to find all the varied meats and organs. So I Use Reel Raw. Since I don’t do day care I make sure when I wake up, my dog gets 45 min to an hour walking on my treadmill while I do some reading and studying, then I feed her before I leave for work. after work, I take her off leash hiking in the fields and woods. We work on training and play fetch and she plays with other dogs. A few times a month I also volunteer at a dog rehab center for dogs with all issues but mostly aggression. My dog will go with me and get walks, swim, train and socialize. She’s become a great role model for the dogs there for learning. My dog is extremely well behaved, respectful and highly obedient but the only reason I can have her off leash and have as much fun and freedom and take her anywhere with me is because of the e-collar, I trained her on it using low level stims but I have certainly used it to correct for noncompliance of a known command, like blowing me off when I call her back to me when she just wants to go say hi to that dog in the woods who is on leash and attempting to lunge and going nuts, and now that my dog is not licensed because I refuse to give th rabies vaccination again, I have to be damn sure my dog is 100% reliable and well behaved off leash, to avoid fights and situations where our cover might be blown. The e-collar is an amazing tool and it actually doesn’t shock dogs like the old models too. The modern day e-collar is like a muscle stim that just gets your dogs attention so say your dog is running after a ball and going into the street where a car is now coming, you say Allie here and activate the stim and as soon as ur dog turns and comes back to you you release the pressure/ stim and deliver praise. I am certain that there are people that abuse the e-collar but you can abuse anything, like you hand, you can use it to pet or use it to smack. I just didn’t agree with #6 in your book. I think having vocal cords removed is abusive and using citronella spray bark collars is abusive but proper use remote collars and bark collars is not. My dog as a freaking menace and positive only trainers could not help my dog and they said it was untrainable and even told me to put my dog down, if it wasn’t for balanced training and remote collars my dog would be ill behaved, super stressed out and stuck in the house all day. Now because of “shock” collars I can walk my dog without her being leash reactive, take her off leash with 100% recall and take her anywhere I go and she is amazing, the e-collar remove stress in fact. When you properly use it. But for anyone interested in using one, you do not just strap it on your dog and start pressing buttons, you have to TEACH your dog what the stim means, and this will result in having a well trained, balanced, stress free dog that you can take anywhere with you. Thank you Dr Falconer for your awesome Heartworm book and incredible resource/webpage which I tell a lot of people about, but please please learn more about How e-collars are helping dogs and actually save their lives when it comes to aggression rehab. It is like using an invisible leash.

    • Will Falconer, DVM on January 16, 2016 at 4:38 pm

      Hey Peter,
      Please please please, read that section again. My tongue was firmly in my cheek when I wrote the chapter on “How to Give Your Dog Heartworm.” In other words, it was not what I’d even remotely recommend.
      And, I’d submit that to be able to use a shock collar, the owner should also wear one and give himself an equal “stim” at the same time his dog gets one. I’d love to hear how long its use lasts from that point forward.
      Sorry, but there are better training methods. And if a dog can’t focus enough to be trained, she needs a homeopath to cure her of “brain on fire” vaccinosis. All too common, but a clear sign of “not well yet.”
      Thanks for your comments.

  4. Jen on December 15, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    So, it’s almost 4 months now since “episode 5”, and many other blog posts have come since then. What happened? I know I’m not the only one who expected “episode 6” with the rest of the story…

    • Will Falconer, DVM on December 20, 2014 at 5:05 am

      I sometimes lose clients to “Oh, she’s fine. I don’t need to have another appointment.”
      But, I forwarded your comment to Margo along with my wonder of whether she’d had Lily tested yet, and like you, I’m still waiting for the next chapter.

  5. elle on September 9, 2014 at 9:31 am

    Thanks, Dr. Will. YES! YES! YES! It felt SO great when I no longer had cravings for carbs or sugar. I’m back in that place now, but not without having gained back a good portion of what I lost last year due to breaking my ketosis with small amounts of sugar and fruits.
    To get back on track recently, whenever I had a craving for something quick and sweet or carb-y, I’d grab a handful of raw macadamia nuts. And sometimes I’d drizzle Organic Whole Goat’s Milk Plain Kefir (Redwood Hill brand…yum!!) over it and make it into something that resembled a “bad carb” dish. What else disappeared was pain in my joints and indigestion. Lots of reasons to stick to high fat/protein/low carb (carbs for me being salads and veggies) lifestyle.
    Just showed Dr. Merritt’s videos to my husband and voila! He now understands why he has been unable to lose weight. It’s those spikes in blood sugar and the concomitant bodily reactions throughout the day. We have definitely used up our lifetime carb allowance. I had to laugh when she talked about the Snackwell era. I was right there in the 80’s eating Snackwell cookies because they were low fat (ha!ha!) and the whole grains, etc.
    Your postings are invaluable…more than you’ll ever know. Thanks!

  6. Elle on September 8, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    This may be the wrong place to post this, but I watched the 4 videos you recommended from Dr. Marlene Merritt on Blood Sugar and they were really well done. I was on a ketogenic diet about a year and a half ago and lost about 30 lbs. I looked and felt great. Then I found out the hard way that when you begin to eat sugar again even in small quantities, you are no longer burning fat for fuel and you have to start the whole process of weaning yourself off sugar and carbs again. This has been an illuminating experience to be sure.
    Dr. Merritt is brilliant and she has an easy way of talking that makes this subject understandable. There’s also a book called The Fat Switch by Dr. Richard Johnson that also makes this case quite clear with a multitude of historical examples and scientific research.
    I’ll miss your weekly newsletter while you’re away. I really look forward to it every week. Thank you so much!

    • Will Falconer, DVM on September 8, 2014 at 6:03 pm

      Yes, as there’s not a great place to respond to Vital Animal News comments, this is as good a place as any. I’m actually putting things in place to change all that, so it’ll be easier for access and comments, but that’s another story.
      Agreed on the sugar. Much as I like sweets, I can see that they really have to be out of my world, for the most part. I use stevia and birch sugar now, and eat few to no sweet fruits (the tropical ones are killers!).
      I understand Dr. Merritt has come up with a theory of “carb points” that we spend throughout our lives. When we’re young, we have lots to play with, so don’t notice much ill effect of eating sugary things, but as we age, our points “run out,” and we start paying with sickness. Makes great sense to me.
      And didn’t it feel great when the craving for carbs disappeared entirely? That was amazing to me.
      Thanks for your kind words, Elle. I always enjoy your comments here.

  7. Michelle on September 8, 2014 at 8:34 am

    Jealous.. I want a Will Falconer in my area ! lol

  8. Jackie Hykaway on September 7, 2014 at 9:44 pm

    What a fascinating case to follow! I’m on the edge of my seat waiting for Lily’s test results. Because of all that you post and share, I did some searching and found a homeopath for my dogs. Our first appointment and remedies were given at the end of July. It’s quite amazing to see the changes take place!

    • Will Falconer, DVM on September 7, 2014 at 9:46 pm

      Oh, I’m so glad for you, Jackie! Way to go! Yes, amazing results from homeopathy and the animals don’t make this stuff up!