Since I mentioned the rising basic standards in my last post, I couldn't help doing a second quick post on Heartworms.
- The American Heartworm Society (AHS) estimates that only 55% of dogs in the U.S. are currently on a heartworm preventive
- Virtually 100% of dogs exposed to infective heartworm larvae become infected; in cats, this number drops to 61% to 90%.
- Microfilariae are found in the blood of 80%-90% of dogs, while only 20% of cats have these in their blood.
- The average lifespan of heartworms in untreated pets is 5-7 years in dogs and 2-3 years in cats.
If 55% of dogs receive heartworm preventative but at least 80% test positive for microfilariae, then even treated dogs may test positive for heartworms; in fact, a significant portion (over half) of treated dogs WILL test positive. Testing positive for the presence of heartworms is NOT the same as having heartworm disease. Nevertheless, HSPCA claims that failure to provide preventative and a positive test = cruelty in Texas.
- Dr. Don Hamilton: "Although the preventive drugs are generally safe, they can initiate an autoimmune disease in susceptible animals..."
- Dr. Martin Goldstein: "Only a small percentage of dogs who
get heartworm die of it, especially if they're routinely tested twice
yearly for early detection. Even in untreated dogs, after a period of
uncomfortable symptoms, the adult worms die... The chances of a
microfilaria infected mosquito biting your dog the first
time are slim. Of it happening to the same dog twice? Very slim...Early
in my career, I saw and treated hundreds of cases of heartworm disease,
most with routine medication, yet witnessed only three deaths (the last
was in 1979). By comparison, we're seeing, cancer kill dogs on a daily
basis. To my mind, the likelihood that toxicity from heartworm pills is
contributing to the tremendous amount of immune suppression now
occurring, especially in cases of liver disease and cancer, is far
greater and more immediate than the threat of the disease they're meant
to prevent..." (emphasis added)
Nevertheless, HSPCA claims that failure to provide "preventative" and a positive test = cruelty in Texas. No matter that the owner has debated the options and weighed the risks, failure to feed your dog poison on a monthly basis combined with a positive test that could be positive even if you had fed your dog the poisons will be considered conclusive evidence of cruelty by HSPCA. No matter that YOU, the owner, may simply believe animals should live out natural lives without being fed pesticides at all.
The ARFs have unilaterally decided that failure to feed your dog monthly pesticides is failure to meet their new and now mandated minimum standard of care. About 45% of dog owners are presumptively guilty of failure to provide minimum care at this moment in time.
And why is it so easy to get a veterinarian to get on the witness stand and proclaim that feeding pesticides to dogs and cats is a "good" thing? Well, because you can't get those pesticides except through those veterinarians, of course. While vaccinations are now "good" for 3 years, have y'all noticed that there's an increased demand by veterinarians to do annual testing for heartworms in order to get your monthly poisons? Well, of course, we all have. My, my, how neatly the ARF and veterinary agendas of the moment fit neatly together.
If eradication of heartworms for the benefit of all animals were in fact the goal of any of these people, if the interests of the animals were the primary concern, then heartworm meds would be readily available OTC, without exams, without scripts; as is done in most other countries. Instead, we see veterinarians playing gatekeeper, lining their pockets. We see ARFs using heartworms as an excuse to seize and even kill animals who may never develop heartworm disease.
When the percentage of dog owners feeding their dogs pesticides is at 55% and the percentage of cat owners doing so is probably minuscule, maybe feeding monthly pesticides shouldn't be any kind of minimum care standard.