Experienced and professional animal trainer provide their insights in answering this question :
A. Prior to starting any heartworm medication, your dog must have a negative heartworm test. This can be done at a local clinic in your area. Heartworm medications are usually prescription only and require a prescription from your local veterinarian. However if you are looking to find these medications at a lower cost than your vet clinic offers, many websites such as 1800PetMeds and DrsFosterSmith offer these products at a reduced rate. Since these products are prescription-only, you will need to have your vet fax over the prescription before they can mail you the medication. However, many vets are very happy to do this in order to provide medication for you at a lower cost!

How to Identify Common Pet Problems ?

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Generic Ivermectin

You can prevent heartworm disease by using the same medication sold by drug companies for a fraction of the price. If you have a large dog, you can order the generic ivermectin from Amazon.com. (I have large dogs, so this is the form of ivermectin that I give them to prevent heartworm disease.)

Although it may be disappointing that there are no over-the-counter treatments available, the reason for this is an important one – your dog should only begin treatment with a heartworm preventative medicine when a negative heartworm test has been confirmed by your veterinarian.
Heartworm disease is dangerous and isn`t something to treat by yourself. You can treat your dog at home, but make sure you get help from a holistic vet or herbalist. You can find a holistic vet at ahvma.org or a homeopathic vet at theavh.org. Many will do phone consults, so they don`t have to be local.
They can help with antibiotics, anxiety and pain medications, seizure and heartworm medications, and more! If it`s not in stock, most medications can arrive the next day. Let your Wal-Mart pharmacy team help you take the guesswork out of getting your pet`s medications.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that herbs such as garlic, black walnut and wormwood, and the homeopathic heartworm nosode, may actually prevent as well as treat infection.
Most of the monthly heartworm medicines have a safety factor of at least 15 days of protection if a dose is missed. This means that if you`re just a week or two late, your pet is likely still within that window of protection and would be unlikely to become infected during that time.
Why Is Doxycycline Important in Heartworm Treatment? The American Heartworm Society (AHS) recommends that doxycycline be incorporated into an adulticidal treatment regimen11 to eliminate Wolbachia.
Slow Kill Method

While not generally recommended, another method of handling heartworms is to only attack the microfilaria, leaving existing adult heartworms to die of natural causes. This is known as the slow kill method. It`s cheaper and does not require a rest period and debilitating adulticide.

An injectable drug, melarsomine (Immiticide®), is given to kill adult heartworms. Melarsomine kills adult heartworms in the heart and adjacent vessels. This drug is administered in a series of injections. Your veterinarian will determine the specific injection schedule according to your dog`s condition.
There are three main choices of where to get pet prescriptions filled. The vet`s office, an online pet pharmacy or your local pharmacy.
Ask your vet for a written prescription for the medicines that your pet needs. After 2005, vets are required to allow their clients to buy medicines from the supplier of their choice. Your vet will still need to see your pets for health checks and monitoring BUT the medicines will be much cheaper if you buy online.
Using GoodRx for medications approved for both pets and humans. Many prescription drugs — like antibiotics, antifungal medications, and even antidepressants — can be used for both pets and humans. In these cases, you can often fill your pet prescriptions at your regular pharmacy, such as a CVS, Walgreens, or Walmart.
Having these drugs available as prescription-only medications ensures that they are used appropriately. For example, heartworm preventatives are labeled as “prescription-only” because it`s critical that your veterinarian makes sure the medication is the right one based on your pet`s health status.
A: There are no home remedies for heartworm in cats. The only “natural” or “organic” home remedy for heartworm in cats is to consider treatments that center on preventing or warding off mosquito bites.
If you forget a month of preventative, make sure to give the next 2 doses on time to “catch up” for that missed month. If you miss several months in a row, you should give your vet a call for advice on when to plan for the next heartworm test and how to get started back on preventatives.
Not all dogs with heartworm disease develop into stage 4. But if it is left untreated, heartworm disease will progress and damage the dog`s heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys, eventually causing death.
Background. The American Heartworm Society currently recommends the use of a monthly macrocyclic lactone, a 28-day course of 10 mg/kg doxycycline BID, and the 3-dose protocol of melarsomine dihydrochloride for the treatment of canine heartworm disease.
Is there any other treatment available? Your veterinarian is recommending what is best. Only one drug, which is called melarsomine, is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of heartworm infection in dogs; this drug should be administered by injection in the veterinary hospital.
The lifespan of a dog in this condition is most likely limited to a few weeks or a few months. Your vet will guide you on the best course of action for treating your dog depending on the severity of their infection. Dogs can live for at least six to seven months after becoming infected with heartworms.
Use heartworm prevention medication year-round

That`s one reason veterinarians strongly recommend pets receive heartworm prevention medication year-round. Veterinarians have reported heartworm disease in pets in all 50 states. Living in a state with a colder climate doesn`t mean that your pet is safe.

Veterinarians sometimes prescribe diphenhydramine during heartworm treatment, as it helps reduce the risk of an allergic reaction to the heartworm treatment therapy. Benadryl makes an excellent addition to your pet first aid kit.
With heartworm disease treatment can be extremely difficult even for the young otherwise healthy dogs but our senior dogs can see more severe side effects and death if progressed disease is present. Know that 1 in 10 dogs will develop some form of heart disease as they age.
After treatment, the adult worms die and are carried by the blood to the lungs where they lodge in small blood vessels. There they decompose and are absorbed by the body over a period of several months.
Heartworms don`t live long in human blood, so you won`t need to have heartworms removed through either medication or surgery. Treatment for heartworms addresses any granulomas that appear on an imaging test that may have resulted from dead heartworm tissue buildup in your arteries.

Relevant Questions and Answers :

the most relevant questions and answers related to your specific issue

Q. Is there something I can buy over the counter at Walmart for heartworm? I don’t have the money for a prescription
ANSWER : A. Prior to starting any heartworm medication, your dog must have a negative heartworm test. This can be done at a local clinic in your area. Heartworm medications are usually prescription only and require a prescription from your local veterinarian. However if you are looking to find these medications at a lower cost than your vet clinic offers, many websites such as 1800PetMeds and DrsFosterSmith offer these products at a reduced rate. Since these products are prescription-only, you will need to have your vet fax over the prescription before they can mail you the medication. However, many vets are very happy to do this in order to provide medication for you at a lower cost!

Read Full Q/A … : Walmart – Official Site

Q. Vet is saying our dog has heartworm based on a sonogram. All tests are negative and he has no cough. I am very confused
ANSWER : A. Very rarely, a dog can have a heartworm infection and still test negative on an antigen test since the antigen tested for is produced only by the female worms. If the heartworms were not fully mature, or there were only male worms present, the antigen test result in infected animals would be falsely negative. This means the test result is negative when the animal is really infected.

An antibody test will be positive even if only one male worm is present. But this test has a downfall, too. Although it is very good at giving positive results when an infection is present, a positive antibody test just means the animal has been exposed to heartworms, but may or may not currently have heartworm disease. A negative antibody test means the animal has never been exposed to heartworms.

If they are actually seeing the heartworms via ultrasound, I would follow precautions by restricting exercise. This requirement might be difficult to adhere to, especially if your dog is accustomed to being active. But your dog’s normal physical activities must be restricted as soon as the diagnosis is confirmed, because physical exertion increases the rate at which the heartworms cause damage in the heart and lungs. The more severe the symptoms, the less activity your dog should have. And the diagnosis should be confirmed. Once a dog tests positive on an antigen test, the diagnosis should be confirmed with an additional—and different—test. Because the treatment regimen for heartworm is both expensive and complex, your veterinarian will want to be absolutely sure that treatment is necessary.

Q. Can giving a dog heartworm preventative to a dog that has heartworms make them sick?
ANSWER : A. YES. Never give a heartworm medication to a dog positive for heartworm unless instructed to do so by a vet.

Heartworm medications require a negative test prior to administration. This is due to the fact that giving a heartworm medication to a dog that is positive may kill off the adult worms too quickly. This can cause worms to become lodged in smaller blood vessels in the body which may lead to loss of blood to vital body parts and organs.

If your dog is heartworm positive, treatment usually involves a slow administration of medications to kill the worms under veterinary monitoring. Some vets may recommend hospitalizing a dog during their first treatment so that emergency care can be given if there is an adverse reaction or a worm becomes lodged in a vessel. A more recent procedure is to do a day-long “fast” die off of worms under monitor to prevent worms from repopulating that may occur during a longer term treatment.

Q. My girlfriends dog vomits every other day or 2. I dont know why? She already got 1 shot out of 3. Every2 weeks. Help?!
ANSWER : A. It’s possible that the dog has intestinal parasites, ate something it wasn’t supposed to, isn’t adapting to it’s current food, or something else. Just because it had one shot doesn’t mean it couldn’t be a disease like Parvo. Make sure your dog is on a high quality dog food, one that is high protein and doesn’t have a main ingredient of corn. A cheaper food doesn’t mean it’s going to be a better buy. The cheaper the food the more the dog needs to eat to gain energy from the food. When you buy a higher quality food your dog has to eat less to get the energy it needs and will poop less because it doesn’t have to eat as much. So with the high quality food you’re buying less and saving money that way. Please see a veterinarian with your vomiting concerns.

Q. How do I know if my pet has heartworms? What is the treatment?
ANSWER : A. Heartworms are a concern in certain parts of the world, such as the USA and warmer parts of Canada, South America, Australia, Southern Europe, Japan, South East Asia and the Middle East. They are transmitted by mosquitoes sucking blood from an infected host and then passing the developed larvae onto a new host through a mosquito bite.

The mature heartworms can be up to 1ft long and can live for 5-7 years in dogs and 2-3 in cats. They live in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels. The heartworms can cause lung disease, heart failure and even lead to death. Even after having removed the worms, the pet can still be left with damage to these areas.

Symptoms of heartworm infestation include coughing, weight loss, decrease in appetite and lethargy. In severe cases you may also notice pale gums, dark urine and laboured breathing, due to sudden blockages of blood flow produced by large numbers of worms.

Prevention is much better than the cure, and if you live in an area where heartworm is prevalent you should treat monthly year round. If you are unsure if it is a problem in your area, I suggest you ask your local vet. Also, your vet will be able to advise you about the most effective treatments available to you.

Treatment depends on the level of infestation and the veterinarian’s preferences. The pet will need to be stabilized before treatment can begin and exercise should be kept to an absolute minimum. In severe cases, surgical removal of the worms may be required.

Q. My Bulldog puppy growls, barks and even tries to bite me when I say “no” to him. What can I do?
ANSWER : A. First, avoid scolding him and acting aggressively towards him if you don’t want him to be acting aggressively towards you. There are other methods you can use to communicate to your dog that you don’t want him to continue doing what he is doing. I recommend you stop telling him “no”, scolding him, or raising your voice at him. Everything coming from you should be 100% positive and 100% calm.

Try to figure out ways to clearly communicate what you want to your dog. If you want your dog to leave something or someone alone, I strongly suggest teaching your dog commands like “leave it”. Here is a link to a video in which I explain how to do it:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1TS5nA7z5Q

Another thing I suggest you use is a no-reward marker. This clearly communicates when your dog has done something wrong. No-reward markers have to be introduced during your training sessions. You should be doing at least three training sessions per day, that are something like 3-10 minutes long (working on different things each training session). If you are teaching your dog something BRAND NEW, do not use the no-reward marker, as you do not want to discourage your dog from performing behaviors for you. Use the no-reward marker for known behaviors only. Here is another helpful video about this:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdU5a6fXKlg

Lure each new behavior (as shown in the video) using high value treats. Let’s say you’re working on “down” which is a behavior your dog knows fairly well. Present the treat to your dog. Ask your dog to “down” (only ask once). If he does not go “down” immediately, say, “uh-oh” or “eh-eh” in a gentle tone, and then place the treat behind your back. This communicates to your dog that they did something to make the treat go away.

After you place the treat behind your back to show your pup “that was wrong” you need to communicate to your pup “let’s try again” by getting your pup to walk around for a second, and then start the behavior all over again. If your puppy is very young, chances are you haven’t taught him a solid “down” behavior yet. So, as I said, do not use this method until you have lured each new behavior as shown in the video.

This is the order in which you should teach behaviors: Lure using a high value treat as shown in the video. After a few successful food lures, lure with an empty hand. If the pup is successful with the empty hand lure, reward with lots of treats. If the pup is unsuccessful, then go back to food-luring a couple more times. After a few successful empty-hand lures, you can begin to add the cue. Say “sit”, then lure with an empty hand, and then reward. Once your pup understands the cue, begin to work on the no-reward marker.

Q. Is there anything i can give my dog, that I can buy over the counter, for an anti-inflammatory?
ANSWER : A. If you are talking about something for pain like arthritis the answer is no, not really. There are specific NSAIDs for dogs and they are prescription only. NEVER give a dog tylenol or ibprofen. Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements can be bought over the counter and can be very helpful. However i reccomend going to your vet for an exam as there are many treatments available. There is the afor mentioned canine NSAIDs ( which willrequire initial bloodwork along with monitoring liver and kidney values through bloodwork at yearly or bi yearly intervals if your dog stays on them long term. There are also options like cold laser therapy and acupuncture. When treating arthritis a multi modal approach is most effective, meaning using two or more of the treatments together.

Q. My cat gets something that feels like acne, mostly above the base of her tail. Cleared up with a steroid shot, but returned 6 weeks later.
ANSWER : A. If the lesions clear up with a steroid shot, that would imply to me that this is a disease that has to do with the immune system. Steroids suppress the immune system, and prevent it from reacting. Typically in animals with auto-immune diseases the immune system is either reacting too forcefully to something that it should basically ignore (allergies) or attacking its own tissues for reasons we don’t understand.

It’s possible that your cat had fleas at one point and unfortunately now has an allergy to fleas. Cats with this problem will react significantly to even one flea bite, because of the allergy. So not only must the cat be continually protected against fleas (with a monthly product to repel them) we must also manage the allergic disease. This means immuno-suppression like she’s already gotten in the form of a steroid shot. Under almost 99% of circumstances I don’t recommend these long-acting steroid shots due to severe side effects with chronic use. There are many other safer alternatives in the form of oral medications that can be used.

She could also have allergies to something other than fleas – something in the environment or something in her food. It’s worth trying a trial of a hypoallergenic food in order to see if the condition improves.

If a food trial fails, and if managing the disease as if she was allergic ultimately doesn’t provide complete relief, then the area needs to by biopsied in order to obtain an exact diagnosis, and treat appropriately.

Read Full Q/A … : Vetinfo