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Old 08-23-2013, 12:49 PM
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Picklepaige Picklepaige is offline
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Default Heartworms?

Maggie has a mild case of heartworms, and has had them for a couple of years now. My mom, who is in charge of giving her heartworm preventative while I'm at school, skipped a month during the winter because she figured it wasn't possible to get them during the winter, and Maggie got heartworms after that.

We have been treating using the slow kill method, and every time we "finish" the treatment and get her tested, she still comes up as a mild positive, so we have to start over. Is this normal? I think we've done three treatments. It's a very, very mild positive so we're not really worried about it, but we're a bit frustrated that it's been about two years, and she's still coming up positive.
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Old 08-23-2013, 01:56 PM
Saeleofu Saeleofu is offline
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It can definitely take years for the test to come back negative. As long as there are still heartworms there, the test will be positive. Ivermectin doesn't kill adult heartworms, so you have to wait until the heartworms die naturally. Heartworms have a lifespan of 5-7 years, so expect it to take 5-7 years to come back negative.
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Old 08-23-2013, 07:30 PM
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What do you mean "finish treatment?" The slow-kill method is just giving Heartgard each month, +/- courses of doxycycline depending on your vet's recommendation.... so there is no end of treatment. It ends when a heartworm test comes back negative, but then technically you should be giving preventative year-round anyway so the routine would just continue....

Like Sael said you're not actually killing adult worms, by giving Heartgard you're basically preventing the infection from getting worse. You're just killing the babies, the adults just have to die naturally which takes a few years.

Happy's been doing the slow-kill method for 1.5 years, her test this spring came back "weak positive." Her symptoms are subsiding but I don't know what that necessarily means!
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Old 09-10-2013, 07:59 PM
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Is there a reason you're doing the slow-kill method instead of treatment? The heartworm treatment sucks because you have to keep them confined for 3 months, but it's much more ideal than the slow-kill method. Heartworms are actually becoming resistant to ivermectin because of this method. If you do the Immiticide treatment your dog is completely heartworm free after three months.
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Old 09-10-2013, 08:14 PM
Saeleofu Saeleofu is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MollyD View Post
Is there a reason you're doing the slow-kill method instead of treatment? The heartworm treatment sucks because you have to keep them confined for 3 months, but it's much more ideal than the slow-kill method. Heartworms are actually becoming resistant to ivermectin because of this method. If you do the Immiticide treatment your dog is completely heartworm free after three months.

I'm curious about how slow-kill is making heartworms resistant to ivermectin? The heartworms in the dog do not reproduce when using the slow-kill method, and ivermectin is used monthly in many/most dogs as heartworm preventative, anyway (Heartgard, Iverhart, generics, etc).
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Old 09-10-2013, 11:07 PM
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I recently went to a conference about this topic. I live in the Mississippi River Valley and heartworm resistance is very real here.

Here's an article about it:

http://veterinarynews.dvm360.com/dvm....jsp?id=818797

This one is a little easier to read:

http://www.pethealthnetwork.com/life...ange-treatment
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Old 09-10-2013, 11:17 PM
Saeleofu Saeleofu is offline
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Thanks for the links! I will definitely check them out
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Old 09-10-2013, 11:22 PM
Saeleofu Saeleofu is offline
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Hmmmm, very interesting. To me it doesn't sound like slow-kill causes resistance, but rather slow-kill doesn't work with resistant strains, and since you can't tell if your dog is infected with a resistant strain or not, you can't know if it's really working. Then if it's NOT working and the strain is resistant, you're spreading that strain by not treating it because the heartworms are unaffected by the treatment. Very interesting indeed. For now it appears to be localized to that area, BUT with dogs traveling, it's only a matter of time before it spreads.


ETA: On that note, year-round prevention doesn't so squat for resistant strains. So in order to really combat them, we need to develop new preventatives. I wonder if the old-school Filaribits would fall into that drug category? I don't remember what the drug is actually called or how it works, but it's a thought.
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Old 09-11-2013, 01:19 PM
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Just give them Guinness! Lol that supposedly works for heartworm prevention/treatment.
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Old 09-11-2013, 07:27 PM
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It actually does cause/spread resistance. Look at it this way, the slow-kill method kills the babies but not the adults, right? The adults can live for several years inside a dog before they die. So let's say the adults have 100 babies and the preventative kills all except 2 that happen to be resistant to the ivermectin. Those 2 babies grow up to be adults and have more resistance babies. Not to mention that dog won't be heartworm free anytime soon. A mosquito bites that dog, picks up the heartworm larvae, and spreads it to another dog. Bam, more resistant heartworms.

If you do the regular treatment with Immiticide, ALL of the heartworms die and don't have a chance to create any super babies.

The only drug that seems to be 100% effective is Moxidectin which is found in Advantage Multi and Proheart 6.


If you can't already tell, I've been thinking about this a lot lately! I'm trying to decide what to do about my dog since I do live in this high risk area.


More interesting articles:
http://www.veterinarypracticenews.co...e-counter.aspx

http://dogaware.com/articles/newshwresistance0711.html


Edited to add: It's similar to the problem we're having with antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria.
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