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Just found this site and hope you can help. Adopted a basset from a shelter in Miassippi, I am in MA, they said he was healthy and then whenm I got him as we were leaving they mentioned, vey casually, that he has heartworm but very weak and to continue him on heartguard and not to go with the treatment that vets up here in Massachusetts follow that it's not necessary. Well long story, it's been the best time of life getting him and the worst ime of my life. I have been a wreck, talked to many vets, omline constantly, I have only had him aweek and if anything every happened to him I do not know what I would do. My head and my heart and everything I have heard and read tells me to gowith with the treatment, but he has a very tough life so far(abuse, then months in a kennel)he can finally run and jump and play and he gets so much attention, he seems to be thriving. the treatment seems so brutal, and he could die. The vet from Mi called me and was emphatic about keeping him on the Heartguard and eventually the worms would clear up,and the vets up here are just as emphatic in their position to proceed with treatment. Has anyone gone though this that could offer anything to me I am a wreck, Please help me!
 

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We had heartworms in one of ours-- she was treated and survived just fine---Heartguard does not kill adult heartworms----only the new ones. The adults will live and continue to grow. They may eventually get large enough to create a major problem. I think I would keep him on Heartguard. wait till Fall, and then have him treated. By then he will have adapted to the idea of having a good home and the treatment will be easiefor him.----Good luck
 

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I know several folks who have adopted older dogs who are heartworm postive and the owners have been advised that keeping them on the Heartguard and forgoing more vigorous treatment is the way to go. Seems it's younger vets recommending this, so I don't know if it's inexperience or new thinking. The dogs I know are all thriving. Luckily I've had no personal experience.

Judy
 

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You need a local vet who you trust to help you make such an important health decision, not a vet who's 2000 miles away. If you don't have one ask friends for referrals. There is Angel in Boston or Tufts in Grafton if you don't have a vet. I think there are a couple of people on the forum from the south of Boston area who might have the name of a reputable veterinarian. How old is your hound and has he had x-rays and other diagnostic tests to access the level of infection?

Dean's plan sounds good to me. If he were old and in poor health maybe what this vet is recommending might be the way to go, but it's a long drawn out process requring more than two years to kill the adult worms. There's a lot of information at the American Heartworm Society.
The older the worms when first exposed to ivermectin, the slower they are to die. In the meantime, the infection persists and continues to cause disease. Therefore, long-term continuous administration of ivermectin generally is not a substitute for conventional arsenical adulticide treatment. If arsenical therapy is declined, a lengthy course of prophylactic doses of ivermectin will gradually reduce the number of adult heartworms, but in chronic mature infections this may not be as clinically beneficial.
Sounds like you've got too many cooks stirring the pot. I also think that a shelter might recommend the Ivermectin treatment because of the low cost. Talk to a vet you trust then make a decision.

Good luck and let us know what you and your vet decide.

[ May 07, 2005, 01:56 PM: Message edited by: Barbara Winters ]
 
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To those who reponded, thank you. I was in such a state when I typed my original post, and was on my way out of my office.

My dog Beau is only 16 months old, and shows no signs of the infection as of yet. I have been to Angel Memorial, and consulted with a Vet at Tufts. They all were of the opinion that the treatment is the best the option, the sooner the better, because he is so young and healthy his chances at a full recovery with no dmage are excellent. I asked each one of them if it were there animal, what would they do, they all agreed treatment, if animals in same condition as Beau.

Dean, I like your suggestion of wating a bit until he gets established, afterall the summer is coming up and I was hoping that we could get in alot of outside time together. It was a hard decision, but I dropped him off this morning and will pick him up tommorrow, I can't stop crying, but I know it's for the best.

Regarding the shelters iN mIssippi, I have found out alot more about it than I wanted to know. They are not even allowed to ship dogs to my state, and found out his transfer papers were falsified, showing that he was going to another state. Additionally found out that they knew he had heartworm for (6) months prior to me adopting him, not the (2) days they told me. Through my research, I found out a family friend had also adopted a dog from this group, same situation happened to her. Could go on for a long time, but I at this point I am just happy he is with me, and he will have a happy, healthy life. Thank you again for your responses and thank you for this site.
 

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I am so glad I found this forum. I am about to adopt a 3 year old female basset. The rescue people have told me that she had a weak positive heartworm test. They have been treating her with chewable preventatives. I was not sure if this will work or not. Thank you for all your information. Good luck to you and Beau Mere!
 

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Mere,

Just my opinion but because he's so young I'd go with the treatment. The heartguard, like someone else said, doesn't kill adult worms. Have him tested by your own vet and see how advanced the worms are. Basically, start fresh. The shelter you got him from sounds like a nightmare.
 
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Regarding Beau:
Picked him up Tuesday night, and he was out of it because of pain meds, I had to carry him to car, and lift him onto the couch where he slept straight through the night. The pain med(Rimadyl) gave him terrible diarhea, I felt so bad. Consulted my vet who advised to take off Rimadyl, and feed boiled rice and boiled chicken only, and prescribed antibiotics. Worked like a charm. I was worried about no pain medication, but he shows no signs of being in pain, and is in fact much more active than he was before.

One thing though, just in case anyone also going through this, it is extremely critical for the dog to be on a very strict exercise restriction(no running, no jumping, only leash walks and only to go to bathroom)for up to (8) weeks. Although the dog may seem perfectly fine and healthy, you can not get complacement of the exercise restriction requirement, this is the most dangerous and critical period of the treatment. I put big notes up at my house on the door and on the bathroom mirror, to just keep this in the forefront. I will remind myself daily, and it will take it one day at a time. (8) weeks of resrtiction is worth a longer healthier life in my book. Beau comes to work with me every day, and all my co-workers are completelry aware of his treatment and all it entails. Good luck to anyone going through this, and if I can be of any help to anyone, just ask.
To Monica74, if your Basset has a weak test and shows little or no signs of damage from worms(heart, liver)all the more reason to go with treatment.
Dogs that are older and show advanced signs of the disease like congestive heart failure, kidney failure should be the only possible candidates to go the "preventative medicine route".
 

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I am on the Board of Directors of Basset Hound Rescue of Georgia. We rescue between 175-200 basset per year. Up to 25% of those are heartworm positive, and need the heartworm "cure". We get this cure done, therefore, very routinely. In dogs with extremely heavy heartworm loads, we often wait a few weeks (to fatten them up a bit, they are usually quite skinny when they come from the shelters), and then do a "split treatment" - one treatment, followed by another one four weeks later). But for dogs who are otherwise in reasonably good health, we just do the one treatment.

After the treatment, it is important that the dog be kept quiet and calm for four weeks, as the heartworms die, break off into the bloodstream and are absorbed by the body tissues.

I will say that in all the years we've been treating for heartworm (since 1992), we have only had one die of complications from the treatment. So you can see that it's a pretty routine and safe procedure. And then, of course, when they are adopted out, the adoption contract states that they must be kept on monthly heartworm preventive for the rest of their lives. (as should ALL dogs who live in the southern states).

In much older dogs (10 or older), we will often go with the Heartguard-only treatment. It does kill the worms eventually, because they worms that are adult cannot produce babies (they get killed by the Heartguard), and the adult worms themselves only have a lifespan of about three years.

In sum, the treatment is fine to give them. I have to say (no offense intended), that I sometimes am a bit amused at how vets (and rescues, even) in the northern part of the country get so tense when they get a dog with heartworms. It's a big deal to them, because it's rarer up there, but honestly, it's just routine to us now. If you asked Looziana Basset Rescue (Louisiana) and Suncoast Basset Rescue (Florida), they'll tell you the same thing - 25-35% of all incoming rescue dogs are heartworm positive, and need the "cure".

By the way, Mere is absolutely right. Any *reputable* rescue group will have the dog's heartworms treated (cured) before they adopt them out. Except, as I noted above, in certain rare cases where the dog is much older. And in *that* case, any reputable rescue will disclose that to you and discuss it fully with you, up front. BHRG always lets potential adoptees know any health problems the dog had when it came to us, and how we treated it. We also do not let dogs be adopted until they are fully healthy (shots, neutered, wormed, and any other health conditions treated).

[ May 16, 2005, 09:15 PM: Message edited by: Menzie ]
 
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Here is Beau, he is doing very well, had a little scare on Saturday night, he laid on floor in a dropping motion and it would not get up, I rushed to emrgency hospital at 2 a.m., when we got there he was his old happy self, vet said he looked great, took x-rays, and that maybe he was just passing a worm, but better safe than sorry.
 

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Oh, how scary. I am glad to hear that the vet thinks Beau will be OK. ;)
 
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