Sunday, March 16, 2008

Raw Food Diet, Day 47- Selection Sunday

Just hanging out watching some sports today and waiting for the NCAA brackets to come out tonight. I've decided that I'm filling out my bracket by picking each game based on which team's mascot I think would taste better. This has really opened my mind up to some crazy raw meats that I could sample, such as Clemson Tiger meat or Texas Longhorn tail. I have no idea what a Hoya is, but it sure sounds tasty. How about some Wisconsin Badger liver or Kansas Jayhawk wings? I'm really hoping the Virginia Tech Hokies get in because I'm pretty sure a hokie is some sort of turkey and I love raw turkey necks. I may pick them to go all the way.

Raw Meat is a Slam Dunk!

brother barks about medical stuff again:
If you've been reading my blog, you know that a few years ago I had what humans call "heartworm." I had no idea that little wormies were hanging out and having babies inside of me! When my humans adopted me, they put me through this horrible treatment that included 2 shots in my bum, followed by 6 weeks of lock-down. I guess heartworms are super naughty because I was grounded for so long! My little body blew up like a balloon, I snarled at my mom when she got too close because I was in so much pain, and I just hid in my crate for the first few days. I guess the punishment taught me my lesson, because once it was over there was just fun and feasting and I've never had to do that again.

We used to live in the south, and because it's swimming-weather most of the year, my brother and I had to take our heartworm pills every single month year-round. But in October we moved to a super cold part of the country and I haven't tasted one of those pills since! Well, it's finally getting to be outdoor-running season again, and my humans have begun to wonder when the medicine should be taken back out of the cabinet.

Most humans know that it takes 6 months for heartworm larvae to become mature, reproductive worms. I'm also sure that they know that the disease is spread when a mosquito bites an infected dog, and then bites another dog, injecting the larvae and spreading the disease. Here are some things that they may not know~

When a mosquito bites a heartworm-positive dog, the larvae that the mosquito then becomes infected with need to incubate for about 2 weeks, which brings them to a life stage where they are able to infect another dog. If the mosquito bites a dog too soon, the larvae will die and the dog will not get worms. These larvae are very fragile, and if the temperature outside drops below 57 degrees at any time during this incubation period, the larvae will not survive.

If the larvae make it to this next stage and the mosquito bites and spreads the disease, the larvae will continue to mature and eventually make their way from the bite location to the dog's bloodstream. They will continue to grow to mature in the dog's heart and lungs. After about 3 months they mature to worms, and at 6 months they are able to reproduce.

Adult Heartworms
Photo from:

Female heartworms are larger than males, and can get to be 6 inches in length! If left untreated, these worms will continue to reproduce and clog the ventricles of the heart, eventually killing the host. The scary thing is that treatment of a full heartworm infection (one that includes adult, sexually mature worms) can also be deadly!

You see, the injections that are given kill the worms right away. As the heart beats these dead worms are expelled and absorbed by the body. If the heart beats too quickly (if we get too excited or are too active), then a clump of worms will be expelled, clogging arteries and blocking blood flow to the lungs, causing respiratory failure and often, death. It takes about 6 weeks for the dead worms to be cleared by the body. This is why I was under house arrest for so long, and my humans had to carry me up and down the stairs every time I had to go potty! Once the adult worms have been successfully taken care of, the dog begins a monthly heartworm treatment to kill any more larvae and prevent this from ever happening again.

The only true prevention of heartworm is to never let an infected mosquito bite you. Unless you live under a mosquito net, this is impossible. The way that heartworm pills prevent the disease is by killing the larvae in your system before they can mature to the stage where they actually become worms. The larvae can't hurt you, so this method is pretty effective. Returning to our discussion of the mosquito incubation period -- the reason why heartworm treatment may not be needed year-round where you live is because the temperature probably drops below 57 degrees for part of the year. The time to resume preventative treatment is 45 days after the temperature has warmed up sufficiently, and stop 45 days after it has dropped below, and definitely after the first frost.

It is extremely important that your human remember your pills, because a missed month is all it takes to increase your risk dramatically. They also need to get you checked annually just to make 100% sure that the preventative pills have been doing their job. Trust me... you don't want to be grounded for heartworm!

Informational resources:
B-Naturals Newsletter: Heartworm, by Lew Olson
Citadel Tibetan Mastiffs: Timing Heartworm Preventative (this one has great maps with estimated start/end months for the US)

1 comment:

Hilary said...

Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment regarding the detox period when raw feeding!

I just posted an article on natural heartworm prevention that may be of interest to you.

Your immune system will be much stronger now because of the raw diet, which will deter heartworms in general!