How black walnut hulls can help
Someone just asked me what I would do about heartworm in the Eastern United States. It is a tough question because I’ve never practiced or lived there and don’t have the practical experience of seeing many dogs with heartworm. However, I treated one dog from New Orleans a few years back using black walnut hulls. His tests have been repeatedly negative for the presence of heartworm since that time. At the time my client and I knew that black walnut hulls were toxic, however we saw no signs of toxicity and all blood work parameters were fine as well.
Here is the treatment protocol:
Black Walnut tincture – ¼ – 1 dropper once a day for 4 days days, stop treatment for three days and repeat the cycle for one more week, then stop for two weeks and repeat the whole cycle of treatment one more time.
Perform the heartworm DNA test four months from the beginning of the treatment or as an alternative perform the microfilaria or antigen test.
I actually learned about this protocol from a student who came to my practice from South Carolina. I’m very grateful to her for this insight because without it I would not have had the guts to use black walnut hulls.
What to do about preventive drugs
While I can’t recommend what your decision should be, I can tell you what I do with Skai when I go to Hawaii. He is not on any heartworm preventive and I test him for heartworm twice yearly. My friend who lives in Hawaii full-time does the same and so far so good.
It seems to me that drug companies exaggerate the need for heartworm treatment in areas with low heartworm incidence. A good example is the Pacific Northwest. It took me years to realize that they just want us to be afraid of being liable and sell more drugs to our clients and patients.
At the same time some areas of North America present true danger of heartworm infection. In order to make the right decision it may be easier after looking at the map above.
What is the conclusion?
You have to go with your heart (speaking of heartworm) and decide for yourself. If you live in an area with low heartworm incidence of one to five cases on the map, you should be fine with doing nothing and have your dog tested once a year if you want to be very thorough. If you live in places like Hawaii or similar, I recommend testing your dog twice a year. This gives you a better chance of detecting any possible infection early and it could be treated without any serious consequences.
In areas with high incidence of heartworm cases I would be more inclined to use heartworm prevention. I do not recommend major combo drugs treating heartworm, fleas, intestinal parasites and ticks. The more chemicals we introduce to our pets’ system the more likely it is to cause potentially serious problems. No matter what drug companies say about their safety, I will never believe that giving drugs creates a better state of health and contributes to longevity. The less you use the better.
You may already know that parasites thrive in weak individuals and that’s why good diet, exercise, supplements and a low stress life is the best parasite prevention. The key is to keep your dog healthy. Ultimately, you have to make your own decision when it comes to heartworm prevention and treatment.
© Dr. Peter Dobias, DVM