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What would you do?

Discussion in 'Dogs - all breeds / types' started by Mari, Mar 14, 2006.

  1. Mari

    Mari New Member

    Hi! I am new to the board - and am having a very hard time decidng what I should do next.

    You see I have a 15 year old Chow/Lab that was diagnosed with heartworms in June. The Dr. told me that the treatment would more than likely kill him and that I am at a fork in the road .......So I decided to enjoy what little time we have left and keep him comfortable. Well it is bothering me because I do not know if he is truly suffering or not. I mean I have read that animals do not show signs of sickenss until they are really sick - but in this case I know what is basically going on inside him and I can't bare the thought of what these worms are doing. Oscar is so sweet and gentle and lately he has been breathing harder and appears to be a little more restless than before.

    I just don't know what to do.. He is eating normal and has become a house dog since the day I brought him home in June when we found out he has the worms.

    Has anyone been through this? I don't want him to suffer!!! But at the same time I maybe being selfish and I don't want that either.

    Any opinions or advise would be greatly appreciated.

  2. DeLaUK

    DeLaUK New Member

    Sorry for what you and Oscar are going through.

    I think what you should do is spend a little time researching it on the internet. (if you havent already)

    Getting rid of heartworm is not a 'quick fix', Im not a vet but from what Ive seen myself (Ive only worked with a few heartworm dogs) and what Ive read and discussed with vets then I think your vet is right in the treatment itself being high risk due to your dogs age if there are any underlying age-related problems.

    Heres some good info, This site gets pretty technical but its a good reputable website.

    http://www.merckvetmanual.com/mvm/index ... /11300.htm

    Heres another less technical site with questions and answers about heartworm.


    I havent been through this personally as none of my dogs have had heartworm but I will say that when Ive had a dog with another disease that I know I cant treat medically for whatever reason and I know that the dog will die from the disease at some point I will make the decision to put the dog sleep based on quality of life. Some dogs do 'act' as though they are not sick but if you watch for things like appetite, how much effort they have to put into getting up and moving around, do they even want to get up and move around, does the dog seem depressed, watch for things like coughing and difficulty breathing. If a dog is miserable more often than not then maybe it is time to let him go.
  3. Mary_NH

    Mary_NH New Member

    I have no experience with this but I can share what a holistic vet told me....
    I had an elderly Shepherd who passed away last October.
    Sadie had liver disease and the main ingredient in HeartGuard can be detrimental to the liver so I didn't know if I should continue with HeartGuard or stop it completely.
    Sadie also had other health issues going on that were related to the liver disease.
    The holistic vet suggested I discontinue the HeartGuard as she would, most likely, pass away from various other health issues long before the heartworms could kill her.
    Heartworms take quite some time to get to the point where they casue the animal to have to be PTS.
    Enjoy your dog while you can yet keep an eye on any possible symptons that might be causing him pain and discomfort....research and make yourself away of what these symptons are so he doesn't have to suffer needlessly.
    Make his life wonderful while you can
    BTW this vet never gave her dog HeartGuard - and he did contract heartworms when he was about 8 years old and he lived to be 11.
  4. Jamiya

    Jamiya New Member

    How about trying some natural approaches to heartworm treatment? It is supposed to be much more gentle than the aggressive way regular vets do it. Take a look here: http://www.banditsbuddies.com/
  5. honeybears

    honeybears New Member

    I agree with Mary, your dog has given you it sounds like a wonderful 15 years, let her enjoy her life now with you and just watch for future signs of discomfort and go from there.

    I have heard it can take a long time before sympoms start to appear. I did have a cat PTS in August and the vet thought he may have had heartworms in the end. If he did I think he had it a long time before he got real sick. For him it was very labored breathing, that started lightly, and about a year later got much worse and his kidneys started shutting down, the vet thought this was caused by heartworm.

    So I think until she starts showing pain or discomfort just make her comfy and happy, she will let you know when its time

  6. Shineillusion

    Shineillusion New Member

    I don't think I'd treat a 15 year old dog either. I've had to treat younger dogs, and it was very difficult and painfull for the dog to go through. I just don't think I'd put an old dog through that, even if I was certain the treatment wouldn't kill him.

    You do have to remember that your dog is a source of infection for other dogs, so keep him inside, and when he does have to go out, try not to take him out during the times that mosquitos are most active. ie dusk and dawn.

    As long as he's not suffering, is eating and drinking, doesn't have any problems "going", and in general seems to be enjoying life, I don't think you need to feel guilty about not treating him. It's entirely possible he has a light load of worms that aren't causing a great deal of damage yet, and by the time they do, he'll have passed from old age.

    Give him hugs and kisses, and enjoy the time he has left.
  7. Mary_NH

    Mary_NH New Member

    if you don't have any cats you could use a product like Advantix (very toxic to cats) to keep the mosquitoes from bothering him.
    That way mosquitoes won't bite him and then pass heartworm larvae onto another unprotected dog.
    Also if you do have cats that's how they'll get it - from a dog that has heartworm and been had by a mosquito
  8. JeanReed

    JeanReed New Member

    What would I do?

    Hi Mari

    I am sorry to hear about your dog. The only advice that I can give you is what my vet told me when my 13 year old Rottweiler was diagnosed with Cancer. At that age she was too old to operate on as the anesthetic probably would have killed her. He told me to just make her comfortable and let her live out her days and she would let me know when it was time.

    I continued to feed her and she continued to try and eat (it was stomach cancer) until one day I offered her her breakfast and she just looked at me. The look said it all. She had given up and was asking me to do so aswell.

    I phoned the vet and that night he came to the house and sent her to the Rainbow Bridge.

    Give Oscar all the love you can and make him comfortable. Whilst he is still "healthy" let him be happy. He will let you know when the time has come.

  9. Jamiya

    Jamiya New Member

  10. dogangel

    dogangel New Member

    In treating HW (heartworms) there are two approaches - one is the "brutal" method - which is very risky even with younger dogs - and that is the traditional treatment with a couple of shots of Immiticide which kill all the worms at once - hence blood clots and/or pulmonary emboli. Most definitely I wouldn't put an older pupper through that. The second approach is the gentle, but longer one (it may take 1-2 years until your dog would test negative), which is the regular dose of monthly Heartguard. I think this one would improve his quality of life dramatically, and possibly give him more time with you.

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