I have heard that the heartworm treatment is worse than the disease. Is this True?
No, this is not true. You may have heard that heartworm treatment is done with Arsenic and that if the heartworms do not kill your pet the arsenic will.
What happens when the heartworms die?
Heartworm disease is caused by large, spaghetti sized worms in the main artery that feeds blood to the lungs. When these worms are killed they are not “b eamed” out of this artery, their dead bodies flow down stream. Eventually the dead worms plug up smaller blood vessels and cause small parts of the lungs to die. Different drugs are used during the heartworm treatment to minimize the lung damage.
Is it safe to use Arsenic in pets?
Yes, the dose of arsenic used is low enough to kill heartworms without harming the pet.
Arsenic is a poison, but so are Foxglove, Belladonna and Warfarin. These “poisons” have been used to treat heart failure (foxglove), prevent stokes (warfarin) and treat nerve gas toxicity (belladonna). Arsenic is used to treat heartworms because it is the only drug that kills heartworms gradually.
How does the Arsenic kill heartworms?
Arsenic binds to the heartworm intestinal cells causing poor digestion and eventual death. The heartworms die one by one; the older male heartworm dying first followed by the older female heartworms then the younger males, finally leaving the young female heartworms for last. This gradual process prevents the dead heartworms from causing severe damage to the pet. So Arsenic is as special a medication for heartworms as it was in the past for the French underground killing the Germans by mixing arsenic with their sugar for their coffee.
Read on and you will discover how we treat heartworms in dogs and why heartworm therapy in cats is ill advised.