Last Fall we rescued to beautiful Heidelberg German Shepherds, They were brother and sister, littermates that we hold sold less than four years ago to a married couple in their late 40’s. Unfortunately, the wife became ill and the husband subsequently died of a heart attack. The wife was placed in nursing care and the father of the deceased man who was afraid of dogs was basically throwing food over the fence to feed these two beautiful shepherds who were out of Champion Heidelberg’s Dargo and Champion Heidelberg’s Stefanie.
We were contacted about the situation and made the long drive to bring these two back to our kennel and try to re-home them. It took several months to find adoptive families. In the meantime, we administered care including stomach wormings, needed annual shots, and monthly heart worm treatment.
Well yesterday, I was contacted by the new owner of the male and he was found to have stage II heart worm disease. Given the time-frame and the stage of infection it was clear that he had contracted heart worms after the previous owner had died and before we rescued them. It only took three months for the male to become infected, and now requiring an expensive and risky treatment.
We have been using ivermection, the active ingredient in Heart Guard, manufactured by Merck for twenty years and have never had a heart worm. In addition, we tell all our customers the necessity of monthly treatment for heart worms and we offer to sell them a two year supply of heart worm medicine for one dog at a cost of only $21.50. Therefore, in twenty years, we have never had any problems with heart worms and it never occurred to us to check these two rescues for heart worms.
No matter what treatment type you use for heart worm treatment, please make sure you treat your German shepherd dog or puppy. If you do not treat them and live in most of the continental United States, your dog will eventually get heart worms even if they are primarily and inside dog.
Now there is some misinformation out there concerning heart worm treatment. One is that if your dog currently has heart worms and you treat the dog with a monthly heart worm treatment that you are placing them at great risk. Wrong, the reason your vet does not want you treat the dog that may have heart worms is because you will kill off the microfilaria in the blood stream and therefore they would test negative for heart worms. Another misconception is that you have to go through the very risky and expensive treatment offered by your vet to rid your dog of a heart worm infection. You can treat your infected dog with monthly doses of ivermection and within two-years all heart worms will be removed from your dog’s body. However, this is only effective for lower stages of infection. From what I understand if your Dog is Stage IV, there is no treatment or recovery.
Another concern voiced by some for this slower and cheaper treatment of heart worms by the use of ivermection is that it may result in producing ivermectin tolerant heart worms. However, since the ivermection treatment makes the female heart worm infertile, the scenario of producing ivermection tolerant heart worms is a mute point.
In addition, to using ivermection it also recommended that monthly treatments of doxycycline for five days will help reduce the chances of secondary infection from the absorption of dead heart worms in your dog’s body and will cause the remaining heart worms to starve or become weakened because the doxycycline kills Wolbachia. “Wolbachia is a genus of rickettsial organisms, sort of like bacteria but not exactly. They live inside the adult heart worm. These organisms seem to be protective or beneficial to the heart worms; treating the dog with the antibiotic doxycycline, which kills Wolbachia, seems to sterilize female heart worms, meaning they cannot reproduce. Wolbachia is also thought to be involved in the embolism and shock that result when heart worms die. The role of this organism is still being investigated.”*
Ivermection and Doxycycline for animal use can be purchased online without a prescription or at most feed stores. As always, we at Keystone German Shepherds & Kennels, do not suggest or recommend that you ever treat your German Shepherd dog or any animal without first consulting your veterinarian.
Please continue to check out our web page as we post updates on available litters: http://www.keystonegermanshepherds.com/PuppiesForSale.htm. We have several wonderful German shepherd puppies for sale that that are ready to go home.
Please call me at (918) 261-4729 if you would like to take one of puppies home with you. Please visit our web page to learn more about these wonderful Heidelberg German Shepherds that we raise at Keystone German Shepherds & Kennels. http://keystonegermanshepherds.com/
* From the Veterinary Information Network, Inc. All rights reserved, Copyright 2014 – 2015.