If you do not give heartworm preventives to your dog, and even if you do, be prepared for some frightening information. There’s a heartworm drug shortage … it seems that the drug for treating heartworms in dogs, Immiticide, is gone.

Veterinarians are in a state of panic because Merial, the only distributor of the only drug that treats heartworms is all out.  Merial has sent a letter to veterinarians announcing a melarsomine shortage of unknown duration.  Melarsomine is the active ingredient in Immiticide, the only FDA approved medication for the treatment of canine heartworm disease.

“It’s bad when there’s only one drug to treat with,” Dr. Mark Hale states.  So his plan is just to hope for more clean bills of health.  It takes a dog two years from when the infection is contracted to show symptoms.  So now, more than ever, Hale is pushing regular testing and preventative measures.

According to Merial’s news release it could be weeks or even months before Immiticide is available again, but the distributor is working to secure a new supplier.

Luckily, dog owners can do more than just hope for a clean bill of health, and ironically, that plan doesn’t necessarily mean your dog needs to be on a heartworm preventive.  Allopathic veterinarians see the Immiticide shortage as a major cause for alarm while holistic vets may shrug their shoulders and carry on status quo.  What the holistic vets know is that mosquitoes don’t cause heartworm, rather unhealthy dogs get heartworm.

Holistic veterinarian, Dr. Jeffrey Levy says: “I practiced for seven years in the Santa Cruz, California area, and treated many dogs with heartworms. The only dogs that developed symptoms of heart failure were those that were being vaccinated yearly, eating commercial dog food, and getting suppressive drug treatment for other symptoms, such as skin problems. My treatment, at that time, consisted of switching to a natural (that is, homemade) diet, stopping drug treatment whenever possible, and eliminating any chemical exposure, such as flea and tick poisons. I would usually prescribe hawthorn tincture as well. None of these dogs ever developed any symptoms of heart failure.”

“I concluded from this that it was not the heartworms that caused disease, but the other factors that damaged the dogs’ health to the point that they could no longer compensate for an otherwise tolerable parasite load. It is not really that different from the common intestinal roundworms, in that most dogs do not show any symptoms. Only a dog whose health is compromised is unable to tolerate a few worms. Furthermore, a truly healthy dog would not be susceptible to either type of worm in the first place.”

“It seems to me that the real problem is that allopathic attitudes have instilled in many of us a fear of disease, fear of pathogens and parasites, fear of rabies, as if these are evil and malicious entities just waiting to lay waste to a naive and unprotected public.”

“Disease is not caused by viruses or by bacteria or by heartworm-bearing mosquitoes. Disease comes from within, and one aspect of disease can be the susceptibility to various pathogens. So the best thing to do is to address those susceptibilities on the deepest possible level, so that the pathogens will no longer be a threat. Most importantly, don’t buy into the fear.”

“That having been said, there are practical considerations of risk versus benefit in considering heartworm prevention. The risk of a dog contracting heartworms is directly related to geographic location. In heavily infested areas the risk is higher, and the prospect of using a preventive drug more justifiable. Whatever you choose to do, a yearly blood test for heartworm microfilaria is important.”

“There are basically three choices with regard to heartworm prevention: drugs, nosodes, or nothing.”

“There are currently a variety of heartworm preventive drugs, most of which are given monthly. I don’t like any of them due to their toxicity, the frequency of side effects, and their tendency to antidote homeopathic remedies. Incidentally, the once-a-month preventives should be given only every 6 weeks.”

“The next option is the heartworm nosode. It has the advantage of at least not being a toxic drug. It has been in use it for over 10 years now, and I am reasonably confident that it is effective. It is certainly very safe. The biggest problem with the nosode is integrating it with homeopathic treatment. But at least it’s less of a problem than with the drugs.”

“The last option, and in my opinion the best, is to do nothing. That is to say, do nothing to specifically prevent heartworm, but rather to minimize the chances of infestation by helping your dog to be healthier, and thereby less susceptible. This means avoiding those things that are detrimental to health, feeding a high quality homemade diet, regular exercise, a healthy emotional environment, and, most of all, constitutional homeopathic treatment. Of course, this will not guarantee that your dog will not get heartworms, but, under these conditions, even the worst-case scenario isn’t so terrible. If your dog were to get heartworms, s/he shouldn’t develop any symptoms as a result.”

If you are concerned about heartworms, work on boosting your dog’s immune system.  Consider giving your dog garlic and echinacea if your dog is in a high-risk area.  If your dog should test positive for heartworm, there are natural solutions available including black walnut, acupuncture and homeopathy so make sure you have access to a good holistic vet.