When a dog is infected with heartworms, the situation is critical and alarming because it can lead to the eventual death of the dog.
This article addresses things you should feed a heartworm-positive dog, how to care for them, and preventing heartworm disease.
So, what should you feed your infected dog?
You should feed a dog infected with heartworms and with a low appetite, easy to digest foods. Fruits and veggies like carrots, pumpkin, beetroot, banana, apple, coconut, and papaya are often good options.
Also, you can introduce Tumeric, pumpkin seeds, cloves and various natural herbs and oils to their diet to curb the activities of these parasites. (more on this later)
Read on to know more about feeding a dog with heartworm infections, heartworm prevention and how you can control them to the best of your ability.
Which Types of Food Can Help My Dog with Heartworms?
If your dog has heartworms in its body, it can be quite picky with the food it eats, if it wants to eat at all!
Unfortunately, there aren’t any foods that can cure puppies or adult dogs of heartworm disease, but sometimes dogs may want easy to digest foods during sickness to maintain their body weight.
Some foods can help as a heartworm preventative too to help boost immune systems.
Regardless, you have to give your furry friend the kind of food that will see them through the period of sickness and their heartworm disease if they’re infected.
Oftentimes, it is just a case of getting enough calories into them to keep their energy levels high while they are going through heartworm treatment.
These kinds of foods below are easy to digest and contain certain vitamins and minerals which can be beneficial.
Check out the kinds of food below that will be beneficial to your dog with heartworms:
Foods to Give a Dog Tested Positive For Heartworm
- Raw meat diet (helps strengthen immune system)
- Natural foods like fruits and vegetables (hydration, various beneficial vitamins and minerals)
- Fresh filtered or spring water (regularly change to avoid parasites and mosquitos)
- Not all dogs will eat the first two items on the list due to reduced appetite. In this case, let them eat ANYTHING they like, even if it goes against their normal diet. Even commercial dog food if it’s the only thing they’ll eat. They need calories and energy on the way to becoming heartworm free.
Fruits To Give Dogs With Heartworms
1. Apples: Apples are great for dogs with heartworms as they contain vitamins A and C, as well as fiber.
Apples in your dog’s diet may help repair damage done to your dog’s tissue and blood vessels and can aid its vital organs to work effectively.
2. Banana: Bananas will help in the boosting of the dog’s health and immune system, so other diseases will not burden the dog while it is infected with heartworms.
3. Blueberries: Heartworms are intestinal worms and in the process of carrying out their activities, they damage cells in the dog’s body.
Blueberries may help fix the damage caused.
4. Cantaloupe: They are recommended for dogs with heartworms because they provide water and fiber in the body to soften and ensure your dog passes bulky stool.
5. Cucumbers: Cucumbers are packed withvitamins K, C, and B1, as well as potassium, copper, magnesium, and biotin.
And what they do is mostly to ensure that the dog’s blood clots.
Heartworms can damage and cause injuries in the dog’s stomach and if its blood can’t clot, then the situation could be even worse.
6. Pumpkin: Pumpkins can help your dogs with heartworm by easing diarrhea and constipation as well.
It also helps with digestion and revives your dog’s appetite. Pumpkin seeds can be included as a potential anti parasitic.
Other BENEFICIAL fruits they may like:
Vegetables To Give Dogs With Heartworms;
1. Brussels Sprouts: They are good for dogs and will help strengthen them while enduring the pains caused by adult heartworms.
2. Broccoli: It is a great source of Vitamin C and will help to maintain the bones, skin, and blood vessels of heartworm-infected dogs.
3. Celery: Celeries are beneficial in keeping the heart healthy throughout the heartworm infection in your dog.
Other vegetables they may like and eat:
4. Green beans
Do Dogs Eat if They Have Heartworm Disease?
Dogs appetites often decrease and they may not have the urge to eat when they have heartworm disease.
There is a loss of appetite and they won’t eat as much as they used to or stop eating in general.
Many dogs may experience constipation and vomiting if they try eating with heartworms in their system.
As time goes on and eating becomes strenuous, they may even want to give up trying. We’ve heard many cases of stressed dog owners experiencing this and asking for help.
That situation can be awful for most dog owners and the dog as well.
But if you notice your dog that tested positive for heartworms isn’t eating, then try to introduce the foods listed above to their diet.
They are easily digestible for most dogs, and at this stage, food quality should be low in your list of priorities.
Even if they like a particular dog food which you feel is bad quality, just let them eat and get their calories in.
What Can I Give My Dog Naturally for Heartworms?
Heartworm disease in dogs, unfortunately can not be cured by natural methods, regardless of what you read online.
The following natural oils and ammendments can help to control heartworms in conjunction with conventional treatment:
- cedar oils
- citrus oils
- diatomaceous earth
If your dog is on the typical veterinary treatment, then the following natural herbs may be beneficial:
- milk thistle (liver protectant)
- homeopathics like berberis or heartworm nosodes (these may minimize toxicity from the medications and dying heartworms)
If you’re adamant you want to try a natural treatment, you can try out this herbal treatment for heartworms by Steve Marsden DVM, in the Manual of Natural Veterinary Medicine:
The mixture contains:
- 14 ml ginger
- 9 ml wormwood
- 4 ml garlic
- 14 ml thyme
- 9 ml cinnamon
Dose: 0.1 ml per 5 lbs of the dog’s weight, divided into 2 or 3 doses per day.
Caution: Meet with your vet to know if this is a suitable natural treatment or not for your dog.
DIY Heartworm Treatment for Dogs
Before starting any DIY heartworm treatment, you should first do so under the guidance and advice of a vet.
It’s generally not possible or advised to do heartworm treatment completely DIY.
If you want to give your dog treatment through DIY methods, then follow these steps:
Step 1: Start by putting your dogs on regular monthly heartworm preventives (this is usually a choice of four meds like Moxidectin Oxime, Ivermectin, Milbemycin or Selamenctin.) – this helps to kill immature heartworms or heartworm larvae.
Step 2: Alsogive your dog 30 days of the antibiotic doxycycline – this aims to kill the Wolbachia bacteria (a parasitic microbe transferred through infected mosquito bites) if they’re present in your dog.
Step 3: At certain intervals [60 days, 90 days, and 91 days] you give your heartworm-infected dog a couple of intramuscular injections called Immiticide (melarsomine). THIS IS NOT RECOMMENDED DIY.
Step 4: At the same time, give them steroids (prednisone – only your vet can prescribe this) during treatment to help them cope with the side effects of .
Step 5: On day 120 of treatment, you can take your dog to the vet to test for microfilariae (baby heartworms).
Also, after a year of treatment, your vet will perform a heartworm test to see if your dog is free of heartworms.
Preventing Heartworm in Dogs With Natural Remedies and Foods
Heartworm prevention is the most important thing you can do if you live in an area with many mosquitos.
According to the American heartworm society, heartworm disease can only be prevented by constantly using preventive medications specifically prescribed by a veterinarian.
Though some holistic vets and naturopaths believe that heartworm disease can be prevented before they turn into adult heartworms and do their damage.
They recommend the following ways:
- Giving your dog a raw meat diet with no commercial dry dog food
- Natural flea preventatives
- Having filtered or spring water available to your dog
- Keeping old water out of the garden in order not to attract mosquitos
- Feeding your dog fresh garlic to keep mosquitos away
Heartworm Preventive Herbs
The following herbs may potentially help prevent or strengthen resistance against heartworm disease and other intestinal parasites:
Heart and Cardiovascular Support
- Dan Shen
- Olive Leaf
- Black Cumin Seed
- Black Walnut
Immune System Support and Strengthening
- Medicinal Mushrooms
Mosquito and Insect Repellents
As always, please consult with your vet or holistic veterinarian to see if these are ok for your infected animal before going ahead with these ingredients.
What Do Heart Worms Eat and Feed On?
Heartworms eat and feed on blood of the organisms they occupy.
They tend to reside in the right chamber of a dog’s heart and as they grow (in both size and number), they may clog the right chamber of the heart.
With time, they’ll restrict blood flow which can cause severe lung disease, respiratory disease and heart failure which may lead to severe complications and the dog’s death if not treated.
What are the Symptoms of Heartworm Disease in Dogs?
If you notice these symptoms in your canine companion, then it may be infected with heartworms (or an intestinal or parasitic worm).
- Evident weight Loss
- Frequent diarrhea
- Dry fur
- Worms in feces
- Lack of appetite
- Blocked Intestine
Heartworms are spread by mosquito bites and according to the statistics, every 1 in 200 dogs have a heartworm infection.
Heartworms are in every country around the globe and in America, their presence is widespread over the entire 50 states.
One problem with heartworms in a dog’s body is that they take about 6 months to become full-blown adult worms.
You may observe some of the early symptoms of a heartworm infection; when you do, take immediate preventive measures.
Summary & Final Thoughts
Heartworms can be a nightmare to deal with and can be tragic if they infect your canine companion.
What to feed heartworm positive dogs can be difficult to know when they aren’t eating anything.
You may have to compromise in this situation through trial and error. Try everything and let your dog choose during this difficult period.
This article has hopefully helped, and discussed things you need to know about heartworms, how they affect your dogs and what to feed them when infected.
We hope it helps. Follow the tips and steps above.
Keeping your dog rested – maybe with crate rest – is also important. Active dogs can potentially hurt themselves during and after treatment due to heart rate and blood pressure increases (No playing with other dogs either).
This can break and move a dead, decomposing worm and cause it to block important blood vessels and cause a clot.
Using these tips, hopefully your dog will be on its way to hopefully having a healthy heart and only mild symptoms or moderate symptoms.
Unfortunately, clinical signs of more severe symptoms may mean that surgical removal is your only option and this carries risk itself.
Starting heartworm prevention today is the best thing you can do to keep your dog’s bloodstream free from this parasite.
If you’re worried, regular heartworm tests may catch adult female heartworms and infective larvae early.
To test positive early means you can tackle the problem and hopefully protect your dog’s heart and any associated blood vessels.
NOTE: You may have heard of heartworm associated respiratory disease (HARD) but this symptom only affects cats. Though respiratory symptoms can still affect dogs.