Heartworm Treatment Success Story

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Heartworm Treatment Success Story

Postby BlueKohl » Sat Apr 28, 2012 10:16 am

I just wanted to share some good news on this thread. Maybe it might encourage someone who has made the tough decision to start heartworm treatment. Kohl, my baby that I adopted about 3 months ago from a high kill shelter from their euthanasia list, is now heartworm free!

It has been a long road through treatment, as I even had one vet tell me it would be best to put him down because he wouldn't make it through treatment because of his heart sounds. We live in East Texas and the sad truth here, is many dogs have heartworms, and some vets feel that its just the way it is rather than trying to fight them. Well, Kohl and I decided to fight.

For those of you who are interested, we used an alternative treatment not fully approved in the US. I have treated dogs with Immiticide before, which is the standard treatment, but my holistic vet decided that Immiticide might be too strong and kill too many worms at once to send his heart into shock, or cause an embolism, so we used Levamisole. We treated with antibiotics for one month, then used the Levamisole, steriods, and a different antibiotic for 10 days. After that he has been on a natural heart supplement, steriods, and antibotics for a month, leading to his successful heartworm negative result in a blood exam yesterday. We will be using an antigen test in 6 months to be sure, but this vet has a very high rate of success in this method, and feels that as long as the blood exam is negative, then the antigen test should be after the correct time frame. His heart sounds better too.

The best part is....he can now play outside off leash in the yard! The long weeks of keeping him contained in one room are over, and he can even go on a 5 minute jog this week, gradually increasing in time. He is very excited about that.

This is him enjoying his first playtime outside!
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Re: Heartworm Treatment Success Story

Postby Kingsgurl » Mon Apr 30, 2012 1:45 am

Interesting! I haven't heard of this alternative treatment! Glad you had success with it. My foster is two weeks out of being done using the Immiticide. so I feel your pain on the scary part of treatment.
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Re: Heartworm Treatment Success Story

Postby randomroads » Wed May 02, 2012 8:18 am

What does your vet recommend as a preventative?
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Re: Heartworm Treatment Success Story

Postby Ilovethepits » Wed May 02, 2012 2:34 pm

I am so happy for Kohl and for you!! We don't seem to have a lot of heartworm up here in Minnesota although dogs DO get it here. It seems like such a scary thing to go through. I am glad that your vet seems to have a protocol down to help more dogs survive. Thank you for sharing the information.
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Re: Heartworm Treatment Success Story

Postby Kingsgurl » Wed May 02, 2012 3:27 pm

How effective is the Levamisole against the adult worms? I know it kills off the microfilaria in the bloodstream, which would arrest the progression of the disease. The antibiotics kill of bacteria needed by the adults to reproduce, as well. Does the Levamisole slowly kill off the adults or is it similiar to the other slow kill method (preventative) in that it shortens their lifespan?

It is awesome your pup is doing so well. Scary, nasty things, heartworms! He looks so happy enjoying the sun!
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Re: Heartworm Treatment Success Story

Postby Misskiwi67 » Wed May 02, 2012 4:14 pm

Kingsgurl wrote:How effective is the Levamisole against the adult worms? I know it kills off the microfilaria in the bloodstream, which would arrest the progression of the disease. The antibiotics kill of bacteria needed by the adults to reproduce, as well. Does the Levamisole slowly kill off the adults or is it similiar to the other slow kill method (preventative) in that it shortens their lifespan?

It is awesome your pup is doing so well. Scary, nasty things, heartworms! He looks so happy enjoying the sun!


Probably the latter. And likely causing drug resistance if failure occurs.

Limited efficacy of levamisole against adults of Dirofilaria immitis in a dog
J Am Vet Med Assoc. June 1988;192(12):1743-4.
O O Barriga1; F Andujar
1Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, Ohio State University, Columbus 43210-1092.
Article Abstract

A dog with chronic dirofilariasis (Dirofilaria immitis) was given 15 doses of 12 or 24 mg of levamisole/kg of body weight in 6 treatments within 96 days. Concentration of microfilariae in the blood was determined before and after treatment, and Aedes triseriatus mosquitoes were fed on the dog 1 to 5 days after each treatment and examined for D immitis larvae. Several adult worms were recovered from the dog 160 days after the end of the treatments.


LEVAMISOLE at 10 mg/kg PO sid for 7 days appears to be an effective microfilaricide. Adverse effects include vomiting, diarrhea, behavior changes, seizures, tremors, coma, hyperthermia, and depression. Crushing the bollets may increase toxicity. An adulticide dose of 11 mg/kg for 30 days gives inconsistent results and may cause hemolytic anemia, thrombocytopenia, arrhythmias, and reticuloendotheliosis of the CNS. Different formulations are available in the US and Australia and may account for the differences in results seen.
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Re: Heartworm Treatment Success Story

Postby BlueKohl » Wed May 02, 2012 5:11 pm

In certain dosages, Levamasole slowly kills off the adults within a one month period from what I understand from the vet. He fully expects her to test negative on her antigen test in six months. It's not like other slow kill methods because it's not waiting for the adults to die due to life span, which could take years from what I understand.

As for what I have read, most research points to levamasole being used for microfilaria only, and I asked my vet about it. He said that the dosage we are giving him is much more concentrated than the dosage normally given to kill microfilaria but wouldn't be specific because he didn't want people to try to self administer to dogs since you can easily get it online, in various formulations, as it is a goat wormer too I believe. He stressed that the levamisole came from formularies overseas and not here in the US. Also, he said that it is a very specific dose per dog and planned course of treatment to ensure that all worms do not die at once so that the heart goes through the least stress. Plus, there are all of the support drugs as well.

As for prevention, my holistic vet offers the standard preventatives, as I do not think he feels that the homeopathic "preventatives" or routines are as well proven. Both of my dogs are on Trifexis at the moment because they have flea allergies, and it's the easiest way to take care of that problem too. In East Texas, fleas can be brutal year round, but Trifexis does its job.
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