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Show ALL Forums  > Off Topic  > Canine heartworm treatment with an active outdoor dog      Home login  
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 sweetness-one
Joined: 10/17/2005
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Canine heartworm treatment with an active outdoor dogPage 1 of 1    
The title probably says it all but, for a bit of background. My Sammy (White German Shepherd) is just over 7 years old, and we're entering round 2 of heartworm treatment on Wednesday.

I'm not looking for beration, I'm already beating myself up enough over this, and anyone who knows me knows I love my boy and take care of him. Where I used to live way north, while I'd remotely heard of heartworms it was never something my veterinarian addressed at all, and (completely my fault) when I moved south a few years ago, his shots etc were all updated prior to that, and (again my fault) it really never dawned on me to research what I might need to do differently for a new climate where he was concerned. I just went with what I'd always done for the past 20+ years with any dog I've ever had.

We've successfully treated and killed the baby worms for the most part, so round 2 will be a shot this Wednesday to start killing the adults, followed by two more shots in a month with an overnight visit, to kill the rest.

Sammy has always been an outdoor dog, he comes into the garage to sleep, has a mattress pad there to sleep on. And, even though he's going on seven....he's not *quite* as hyper as he was as a pup but, he's still a VERY busy fellow. Think "dear lord, is he not tired YET?!" kind of busy, plus he's got almost 1/2 acre yard to run in all day. Comes in at night though, and out like a light, sleeps right through and doesn't need any bathroom breaks.

For the next two months, he needs to be kept basically immobilized while the heartworm treatment continues. For that, he will be in the garage for most of the day, since I've never crate-trained him and I can't leave him in the yard, since the vet does not want him moving more than he can help. I'll have to work but will still be able to come home a few times a day to take him out for bathroom breaks etc. I can't bring him in the house or he'll likely tear it up, as it will be a new amusement park for him, lol, whereas he is used to the garage.

My main question is, for anyone who might have gone through this before. Obviously I can't crate-train him in a short period of time, so that's not an option. But how do I keep him calm whilst in the garage, since the vet says both exercise AND stress might have negative effects. He loves sleeping on his bed but, if he's confined there beyond a very brief walk and bathroom breaks for the next two months, he will hate it, and likely stress himself just by being in there all day.

Any ideas? I'll give him his favourite toys of course, but...how to keep a VERY active dog confined for about two months, without him going crazy from the added stress of confinement?

Thanks in advance to everyone.
 *Cowboy*
Joined: 4/28/2006
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Canine heartworm treatment with an active outdoor dog
Posted: 1/24/2011 7:33:53 PM
I had an adult****r spaniel with full blown heartworms and they kept him heavily sedated for like 4 days for the immobilization part not several months. Maybe the way they treat heartworms has changed a lot as this was 20 years ago.
 OMG!WTF!
Joined: 12/3/2007
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Canine heartworm treatment with an active outdoor dog
Posted: 1/24/2011 10:30:35 PM
How sad. I'd ask your vet if he/she has any tips. If nothing else and if absolutely necessary, she might be able to recommend a mild mood stabilizer or sedative with minimal side effects. If stress is really going to kill him it might be worth looking into that option.

Instead of a crate you could get an indoor fence and set it up either in the garage or a part of the house he likes. He'd probably be able to jump over, but maybe something would work and give him a space he likes. You could still crate train him if you really need to but that wouldn't help the mental stress very much..

There are some dog toys that you can put food or treats inside and it challenges dogs to get the food out. Theoretically dogs would spend most of their time in the wild looking for and tearing apart food. These toys relieve some stress by allowing dogs to be dogs.

I knew a stressed out race horse once and her owners threw a miniature donkey in the stall with her. She stopped kicking the walls apart and was much calmer and relaxed. Could you introduce maybe another family member to keep Sammy company? Maybe a cat? Bunny? Ferret? Or would he eat them? This might be a perfect scenario for a super calm older dog? Even if the other animal were in a crate or fenced area, it would likely help a lot. Any other heart beating near him would be great.

Music or some kind of noise helps a little. Natural light and sun is good. There are also weird scent sprays that can be very calming for dogs. I think they're called Dog Appeasing Phermones. They replicate or maybe they actually are the phermones pregnant females have and this makes dogs happy and relaxed. I'd look that one up though.

Shepards are crazy smart so when you're at home with him it would be great if you could challenge his mind. Unfortunately that usually means being active...hunting, chasing etc. There are some challenging dog iq sort of games and toys out there. Hiding toys, finding treats, Pavlov type games, using his paws like hands when possible (digging or reaching under something), chewing up some raw animal part (antler, rawhide or leather of some kind). Try to find activities that might make him think.

Don't feel bad or guilty around Sammy. He doesn't get it and it will just freak him out even more. He's not mad at you.

best wishes
 peppermint petunias
Joined: 9/2/2009
Msg: 4
Canine heartworm treatment with an active outdoor dog
Posted: 1/25/2011 6:14:17 AM
Oil of lavender and geranium can be VERY calming but it may not be enough.


Its certainly the safest route to try IMO

Put a 10 drops of each on a blanket every day on his bed.

I know I would ask about a sedative that is mild.. Valium..??

I'm so sorry sweetness.
I hope he recovers completely..Give him a big nose kiss for me!!
A big HUG for you..



 JustAGrlWthACat
Joined: 4/17/2010
Msg: 5
Canine heartworm treatment with an active outdoor dog
Posted: 1/25/2011 3:02:57 PM
:( I'm sorry to read about your and his struggles. I hope the little pooper makes it through alright sweetness.
 sweetness-one
Joined: 10/17/2005
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Canine heartworm treatment with an active outdoor dog
Posted: 1/25/2011 3:27:29 PM
Thanks to everyone for their well-wishes and contributions.


I had an adult****r spaniel with full blown heartworms and they kept him heavily sedated for like 4 days for the immobilization part not several months. Maybe the way they treat heartworms has changed a lot as this was 20 years ago.


From what the vet has said, and from what I've researched, yes, the treatment has drastically changed in the last 20 years. Back then, a shot of ars.enic was the treatment of choice, and if the dog lived it lived, type of thing. The medicine today has changed, and this is why the vet is doing it in stages, less adverse effects to the dog overall.

Thanks to all for their ideas. I might try the fragrances that you suggested, Peppermint Petunias, and see how that works.

I also like the ideas you've suggested OMG!WTF! with the toys I can insert peanut butter and things like that in. He's got a couple of Kongs, so I can stuff those easily and keep him entertained. He doesn't care for rawhides but, he does like those dried pigs ears and things like that, and takes his time with those, so that's a good option for him too. Plus he loves his beef marrow bones, and those keep him occupied for quite a time as well. The garage has two windows so the daylight should be okay. I'll look into the doggie IQ games you suggested as well, that he can I can do when I get home from work each night. Music? He hates, for whatever reason, no matter what type.

Thanks to all for their ideas, I really appreciate it. It's not so much that I'm worried he'll stress over being confined for a day or two, it's the length of time that's required is all. Thanks so much, and if anyone else has any other ideas, please feel free to share them.
 OMG!WTF!
Joined: 12/3/2007
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Canine heartworm treatment with an active outdoor dog
Posted: 1/25/2011 3:49:16 PM
So I wasn't just imagining that thing about the pregnant female pheromones last night. Hmm. It was late. Check out this link. I'm thinking a collar full of those goodies might be just the thing.

http://vetmedicine.about.com/cs/behavior/a/dogbehaviorprob.htm
 the_humormonger
Joined: 5/30/2006
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Canine heartworm treatment with an active outdoor dog
Posted: 1/25/2011 9:28:42 PM
don't laugh, but my dog liked to watch tv. he particularly enjoyed animal planet, which has many shows that feature other animals barking, meowing, baaing, etc. honestly, he would watch the shows and sometimes even woof back. this might be a way to keep your dog entertained.
 grizzelda
Joined: 6/25/2006
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Canine heartworm treatment with an active outdoor dog
Posted: 1/26/2011 8:33:14 AM
Have you looked into boarding him? Some do offer day boarding and that may offer the solutions you need, enclosed, supervised and something to distract him during his confinement. Good Luck.
 fastdogphotog
Joined: 5/27/2008
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Canine heartworm treatment with an active outdoor dog
Posted: 1/26/2011 5:46:28 PM
I haven't dealt with heartworm treatment, so I can't offer specific suggestions there.

But a lot of greyhounds display severe separation anxiety, and suggestions for keeping them busy, entertained and calm are pretty common on greyhound forums. It seems the most common techique is to use one or more kongs or similar toys that require the dogs to work to get a treat (don't forget you can put peanut butter in the kong and then freeze it, so that it "lasts" longer). Many people have also had good luck with the DAP diffusers, which you can find at the major pet supply stores now. And some have had to resort to sedation or anti-anxiety drugs. You might want to ask your vet about these. You might also want to consider a radio tuned to a talk station.

Finally, I would recommend asking the same question on breed or dog specific forums, if you haven't already. I just did a quick google search, and it looks like there are several Shepard forums you could check.

Good luck, and best thoughts for an uneventful recovery.
 sweetness-one
Joined: 10/17/2005
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Canine heartworm treatment with an active outdoor dog
Posted: 1/26/2011 6:14:24 PM
Thanks again to all who have posted. And to OMGWTF, again, my sincere apologies; I was worried about starting this thread in the first place, and sure enough, many forum lurkers came to my email inbox last night telling me what a shytty dog mom I evidently am, and I was already stressed enough about the treatment today. I took that out on you, for which I am truly sorry.

We are home from the vet today, and *somebody* (ahem) is out like a light from the sedation the vet gave him during treatment today. And getting annoyed that mom keeps checking on him and waking him up, lol. The vet is pleased with results thus far though.

I will have to look into the diffusers both you and OMG suggested, fastdogphotog; I know Sammy hates flowery type scents but perhaps one of the pheremone diffusers that OMG suggested might work quite nicely. I'd never thought to freeze the peanut butter inside his kongs, but that's something I will try too.

Steroids start tomorrow, and apparently I can expect uh...a lot of poop for the next three weeks.

Thanks again to all.
 shakeitupbaby2012
Joined: 8/12/2010
Msg: 12
Canine heartworm treatment with an active outdoor dog
Posted: 1/26/2011 8:19:16 PM
I would definitely ask the vet for tips. I would be tempted to section off an area of the house where he can't damage anything and can have a window to see out, see the tv as suggested, etc. The garage has got to suck as far as staring at 4 walls all day when awake.
Boarding sounds like a good option.
Hopefully the vet has told you about future preventative treatment ( heartworm chews etc that you give monthly/ daily etc) once your dog is heartworm negative.
 moraima
Joined: 6/26/2005
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Canine heartworm treatment with an active outdoor dog
Posted: 1/26/2011 8:36:23 PM
Bach Rescue Remedy is a homeopathic sedative and A. Vogel Passion Flower is a herb sedative (has no smell of flowers). Both products are available in Canada, and I think in many other countries. Becare of rx sedatives and over the counter sedatives as they drop the blood pressure as a side effect.

I have used Passion Flower very successfully with dogs with lupus would couldn't handle thunderstorms because the the pressure to the brain.

While you are home on the weekend, why not try crate training. I do a lot of rescue work, and I have only seen one dog in several hundred that didn't accept crate training quickly. Bear in mind that in the wild any dog seeks out a small cave not much bigger than themselves as their safe place. Research crate training. You might be pleasantly surprised by crate training.

As far as people sending you hate mail, the world is full of people who just don't get how to deal with medical issues with animals.
 Ailliss
Joined: 3/16/2010
Msg: 14
Canine heartworm treatment with an active outdoor dog
Posted: 1/27/2011 3:29:25 AM
Sweetness, I too suggest the crate. You’d be amazed at how quickly he may accept it. Try first putting him in it while you are around for some time, then turn the t.v. on, then leave for a bit but keep the tv on. Mild sedatives will work wonders and probably necessary at first.

My last dog had PEMPHIGUS FOLIACEUS and was on corticosteroids (prednisone ) for a long time. It made her very thirsty so that she urinated a lot. Did not affect her number 2 though.

Wish your doggie the best.
 OMG!WTF!
Joined: 12/3/2007
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Canine heartworm treatment with an active outdoor dog
Posted: 1/27/2011 4:13:23 AM
I don't think you'd be allowed to board a dog with heartworm. It's not directly contageous but facilities tend to freak out about that sort of thing. But even more of an issue is that the meds Sammy is on probably weaken his immune system so being around other dogs might not be the best idea. Check with the vet maybe too.


many forum lurkers came to my email inbox last night telling me what a shytty dog mom I evidently am,


Obvious morons. Try not to sweat the dim among us. They've missed out on so much.


Bach Rescue Remedy is a homeopathic sedative and A. Vogel Passion Flower is a herb sedative (has no smell of flowers).


Sounds cool. Worth a try for sure.
 Ulster born
Joined: 5/29/2009
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Canine heartworm treatment with an active outdoor dog
Posted: 1/29/2011 7:46:13 PM
Would you be willing to sedate him for the duration? Don't know how your vet would be with that idea (keeping a dog sedated for two months), but you could ask?
 Earthpuppy
Joined: 2/9/2008
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Canine heartworm treatment with an active outdoor dog
Posted: 1/30/2011 5:12:20 AM
I assume you are going the arsenic route of conventional treatment, and that you have a doggie door from garage to yard?

Dogs have a sense of smell several hundred times more sensitive than humans. I would urge caution and conservative amounts should you go that aroma therapy calming route. The sedation for two months would be expensive as would multiple trips home, or kenneling. One cheaper route may be to buy caging for inside the garage and outside, perhaps a 6x6 foot containment on both sides of the doggie door. On the outside you could put up tarps on the sides to minimize external visual cues that would excite the pup. That way he can still do his routines, though in a more confined way. Two months of disrupted routines, crate confinement, or excessive sedation could turn him into a life-long pooch potato. I would suggest looking for wider pet forums of folks who have gone through this and get ideas there.

I inherited a step-dog once, a Newfoundland who had full blown heartworms. In a custody dispute, my mate's ex stole the dog from us, lied about it, had his whole family lie about it (they lived 800 miles away in Florida), and then brought him back a year later when he could not afford treatment. In the meantime we had given up after over 6 months of searching and hoping, had adopted a Husky male, and had just found a collie mix female, just prior to the return of the Newfie. It was difficult enough to keep the Newfie calm with the territorial issues between him and the Husky. To make matters even more difficult, the new female on the scene went into heat. Epic battles ensued for a couple of days until we figured out the problem and had her kenneled, spayed, and allowed time for her phermones to dissipate. Telling you all this to say that the Newfie survived even those circumstances when he was to remain as calm as possible. He lived to the ripe old age of 12...respectable for a 150 pound dog.

There is no guarantee that even the most dilligent confinement can stop some blockages. Like humans, the mental plays into part of the healing process. The happier the pup during the treatment, the better his odds are, and that there will be no long term psychological changes from the trauma. Good luck to you and Sammy and many happy years of romping together.

I just googled "Canine heartworm treatment forums"...there are bunches.
 sweetness-one
Joined: 10/17/2005
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Canine heartworm treatment with an active outdoor dog
Posted: 2/7/2011 5:07:49 PM
Thanks again to all who posted, your posts have all been insightful and thoughtful.


I assume you are going the arsenic route of conventional treatment, and that you have a doggie door from garage to yard?


My vet is doing things a bit differently than some do, from what he'd read from the most recent updates from the American Heartworm Association, so he's doing some things a bit in reverse to what I'd read from previous cases online...but yes, he is using Immiticide at this stage. Having a doggie door from garage to yard though, would really defeat the purpose of needing to keep the dog confined though, no offence.

For an update: It's been almost two weeks since the first shot and, colour me a worrywart evidently! The lil bugger has taken to the garage like white on rice! A friend asked me for an update and then advised me (after me telling him how things were going) to be careful, that next thing I know, Sammy might be requesting a recliner , tv and a beer fridge out there! He's already got a single mattress for his bed, so I assume the beer fridge request and sports telly won't be far behind...lil bugger!

Main times he gets het up, are when we are outside in the yard while he's leashed, if the neighbourhood dogs are out, he really wants to go play with them through the fence. Or if squirrels happen to be about, that type of thing. It's been rainy here off and on though, and he hates the rain, so perhaps that has helped.

Ailiss, you were correct about the prednisone. Although I've also found it's also increased his appetite, he's now up to 14 cups of food a day, plus his treats. So, a bit more poop on top of a LOT more urine...no accidents so far though, since he's not in the garage that long without breaks. The vet said I could restrict his water intake but, I see no real reason to do so. For the food, he's very slim anyway, so if he gains a few pounds during all of this, that's fine too.

Motown, yes, the vet has educated me for future prevention, and again, I was pyssed at myself for not researching what Sammy might need when we moved south.

Thanks again to all for all their help and support. Two more weeks and double-shots, and then the vet said 10-14 days and he's good to go, with future preventative treatment of course.

Thanks again, all.
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