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Heartworm in Dogs and Cats / Heartworm Disease in Dogs and Cats / Dirofilaria Immitis in Dogs and Cats

Heartworm in Dogs and Cats / Heartworm Disease in Dogs and Cats / Dirofilaria Immitis in Dogs and Cats

Herbal nutrition to help address heartworm disease, to help promote heart worm prevention and relief of heartworm disease in dogs and cats.

The immune system is a complex army of cells found through out your pet’s body that provides a fortified defense against unwanted invaders. It is an intricate system that keeps your pet healthy and protects them against allergens, viruses, bacteria, microbes, parasites, toxins, foreign fells and cellular mutations (healthy cells which have mutated into irregular cells). The immune system is tasked with protecting EVERY cell in the animal body. With so many pet parents wondering why and how to best support immunity in their dogs and cats, this article will highlight its role and provide practical suggestions. 

A healthy immune system is resilient and powerful and up to the task of supporting normal, balanced function. The immune system is not intended to be suppressed or stimulated.  But even an animal with a highly developed immune system can experience dysfunction or failure. In cases of dysfunction, an animal body requires whole body systemic support. If your pet’s immune system is weakened, every bodily system is at risk for disease. 

Heartworm disease infection occurs when a mosquito bites your dog or cat. Heartworms, also known as Dirofilaria immitis, are deadly parasites that live in the right side of the heart and arteries of the lungs. Once your pet is infected, the heartworm larvae move toward the heart, where they will mature into an adult worm and proliferate.

Heartworms are thin, long worms (about 12 to 30cm) which have an adult life cycle of 5 to 7 years for dogs. In dogs, worms live in the heart, lungs and arteries, triggering inflammation that blocks blood vessels. Damage caused by heartworms can be permanent, and if left unchecked, the number of larvae and the extent of damage to organs and arteries will worsen. A dog's symptoms will typically begin with a cough, which will worsen as the disease progresses. Heartworm symptoms can include fatigue, difficulty breathing, weight loss and even heart failure and death. 

For cats, the life cycle is between 2 to 3 years. During this time, millions of larvae are produced but they only become fully mature after living in the mosquito. Cats are acutely sensitive to heartworms and do not need to host adult worms to cause serious illness. Heartworm larvae can trigger an immune response known as heartworm associated respiratory disease, or HARD. HARD syndrome occurs in about 50 percent of heartworm infections in cats. Symptoms of heartworm include an asthma-like lung disease that is usually accompanied by respiratory distress, chronic cough and vomiting. A single heart worm can cause sudden death in a cat. 

Heartworms can also cause a variety of serious conditions that include heart failure, blocked arteries, clotting in the pulmonary arteries and difficult breathing. 

Symptoms of heartworm include:


Rapid breathing

Labored breathing




Refusal to exercise

Weight loss

Loss of appetite

Bloody phlegm


Swollen abdomen


Bulging chest

Prominent ribs


Rapid heartbeat



Infections of heartworm are usually quite common in warmer areas and countries of the world and pets are susceptible to infection year round. Male dogs are more affected than cats, as are large-breed dogs, dogs with short hair, stray dogs and those that remain out of doors.

Herbal Nutrition - (listed in order of relevance and recommendation by holistic vets  - human grade meets/exceeds highest safety criteria for pets)

Herbal remedies to support cardiovascular health and function, are used adjunctively for heart worm disease; to support immunity; as a cardio tonic; to improve the heart and circulatory systems, including healthy circulation and strong blood vessels; to support healthy blood pressure; to benefit the heart, circulatory and nervous systems; to promote digestive health, balance and detoxification and to cleanse the blood.

I Feel Good –  (learn more) promotes healthy immune response, reduces all types of inflammation, provides dermal support and growth of healthy cells and tissues in the body’s natural defense mechanism, reduces the histamine trigger for contact allergies, seasonal and chronic allergens, pathogens, skin rashes, infections, hot spots, inflammation, swelling, hair loss, itching and geriatria (dull coat, lethargy), for all types of arthritis, including Degenerative Joint Disease, Osteoarthritis, Osteoporosis, Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and symptoms associated with rheumatism, including pain, strains, injuries, muscle pain, swelling and lack of mobility; plus contains prebiotics and probiotics useful in balancing digestive health and function and much more. Recognized as one of the most important medicinal plants of the whole world, particularly related to supporting balanced immunity and limiting inflammation and inflammatory conditions.

Love Your Liver - (learn more) promotes the performance, health and repair of the liver, kidneys and bladder, facilitates rental and digestive excretions, provides protection and detoxification from insecticides, toxins, vaccinations, an inappropriate diet and an excess of food, relieves symptoms such as pressure, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting and flatulence, regulates kidney acid/alkaline levels, for hepatic lipidosis, Fatty Liver Disease (FLD),  Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD), Feline Urological Syndrome (FUS) and Feline cholangiohepatitis.

Easy Flow – (learn more) promotes cardiac and circulatory function, reduces the risk of heart disease by maintaining hearth health, supports the strength of veins, arteries, heart, muscle cell healing and regeneration, for hypertension, supports healthy blood circulation to the brain, for varicose veins, aching joints and heavy, swollen legs, encourages blood flow to remove waste products from the body, for degenerative diseases including arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis, Heart Disease, Congestive Heart Disease, Cardiomyopathy, Valvular Heart Disease, Endocardiosis, Ischemic Heart Disease, Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, for mild heart arrhythmias and as a stroke preventative.

Kick Start My Heart  (learn more) is used as a cardio tonic to improve the heart and circulatory systems, to strengthen heart muscles, to reduce the risk of heart disease by maintaining heart health, to support muscle and cell healing for all parts of the body including the brain, to protect cell walls and to support strong blood vessels, to support the strength of veins and arteries and as a cognitive tonic to stimulate alpha brain waves, to promote healthy brain function and for its benefits to the heart, circulatory and nervous systems. 

Other suggestions:

Feed pets a natural, well balanced diet without preservatives, additives or colorants to boost their immune system

Include fresh, raw foods together with yeast and garlic to ward off mosquitoes

Ensure that your pets food and water bowls are made of stainless steel, not plastic and are always clean

Always have fresh, clean water available for your dog or cat

Make sure that your pet has regular exercise

Avoid using commercial flea products and limit the long-term use of heartworm prevention drugs

If you live in a mosquito-infested area, keep dogs and cats indoors in the late afternoon and evenings to avoid a mosquito attack

Use a natural insect repellant such as citronella oil and water to repel mosquitoes

Detox your pet regularly to get rid of an accumulation of toxins

Conventional Remedies:

The diagnosis of heartworm is based on the symptoms presented, a thorough physical examination and a review of the pet’s medical history. Test will be performed; including chest x-rays to determine whether the pulmonary arteries in the lungs are enlarged, as well as antigen and microfilaria tests to detect the presence of adult heartworms.

There are a variety of oral and topical heartworm preventatives such as Heartgard or Interceptor available to treat dogs and cats, and these can be administered once per month. These medications help to prevent the microfilaria (larvae) from developing into adult heartworms.

Because dogs and cats that live outside are more susceptible to heartworm, it is recommended that they receive this treatment monthly. Indoor pets, however, still remain at risk. Keep in mind that these medications have toxic side effects and have been linked to serious disorders such as liver and kidney disease, arthritis and skin allergies.

Heartworm in dogs is treated with an adulticide, medication administered to kill adult worms over a period of a month. After the one month period filaricide therapy which involves the administration of microfilaricide to kill the microfilariae. Treatment for heartworm in cats has not been approved as yet and involves treating the symptoms with intravenous fluids, oxygen therapy, bronchodilators or confinement.





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