Showsight May 2021


three definitive real-life reasons why Bill and I decided not to use heartworm preventative, even though we’ve lived in Florida. In the late 1960s, we managed a small racing Greyhound kennel for absentee owners. All the Greyhound kennels immediately ordered the new miracle styrid caracide that was/is a livestock wormer for cattle, sheep, etc. Within six months, there wasn’t a racing kennel in the US that used it. Be it noted that (successful) racing Greyhound breeders and trainers are totally dedicated to canine care and diet, and they keep extensive health records. The first thing immediately noted was the “bottom line,” i.e., track times went off by as much as two seconds. Then, as bitches missed and litters failed to thrive normally, there was no doubt it was the new wormer. We heard there were lawsuits settled. A few years passed and we were living in Orlando, next door to dog-friends whose property had a small, stagnant pond. Florida Crackers (the state got its nickname for the whips once so adroitly used to move cattle) called such ponds “mosquito factories.” Worried, we both decided to get our dogs tested. One of the Kearny’s four Dobermans tested posi- tive for heartworm microfilaria, but she was seven years old and the vet treated her with a dose of styrid caracide. Bill and I had an older Doberman and two adult Rotties. All were negative. We played poker a lot back then and, after weigh- ing the odds, the four of us decided that one out of seven was pretty good. Their beloved Tessa lived to age 13. None of our dogs “caught” heartworm.

A decade or so later, the marketing was even greater to put dogs on the preventative that, by then, could be given monthly. I asked my vet if we should use the “new stuff.” He thought for a full minute, then said that we had enough acreage, no close neighbors who might have infect- ed dogs, and the odds were against my heavy-coated Akitas getting bitten on the nose or eyelid by a mosquito carrying heartworm. But, if we ever had a problem, he knew of a sheep wormer that would take care of it. It wasn’t “a big deal.” I still don’t use heartworm prevention and, knock wood, have never had a dog with heartworm… or allergies… or any immune system problems. Heartworm prevention has saved millions of dogs from the disease. Oddly, I could find no statistics on the incidence among untreated dogs. Whatever, I’m going to guess that for every untreated healthy dog there is at least one dog on heartworm preventative that is NOT healthy. I say this because I started my own curiosity survey after observing the parade of obese, hairless, itching, allergic, SICK dogs during a two-hour wait in the vet’s office. I say it because very few of my puppy owners poison their dogs, and I have never—in forty years—had one single owner tell me their dog had heartworm. I don’t recommend anything to anyone. I just thought you might like to know some of the risks, so that you can make your own informed decisions.


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