Friday, July 22, 2011

Wolbachiwhat? Mila Loves Cream Cheese!

While waiting for her heartworm treatment to start, Mila took a month of Doxycycline.
If doxycycline is incorporated into a heartworm treatment protocol it should be given before administration of melarsomine so the Wolbachia organisms and their metabolites are reduced or absent when the worms die and fragment. Doxycycline administered at 10mg/kg BID for four weeks has been shown to eliminate over 90% of the Wolbachia organisms and the levels remain low for three to four months.

Mila loved her month of Doxy because that meant she got 2 gobs of cream cheese every day, plus yummy liquid probiotic mid-day to help her gut. We were really careful about separating out the dose and did not use yogurt in case that might upset her stomach.

What are these wolbachia that we speak of?
Wolbachia is a genus of rickettsial organisms (sort of like bacteria but not exactly). They live inside the adult heartworm. These organisms seem to be protective or beneficial to the heartworms and treating the dog with the antibiotic doxycycline, which kills the Wolbachia, seems to sterilize female heartworms (meaning they cannot reproduce). Wolbachia is also thought to be involved in the embolism and shock that results when heartworms die. The role of this organism is still being investigated.

But Mila's beloved cream cheese was not taken from her just yet. Mila is one of the youngest nine year old dogs ever. We have taken her to events that would tire a much younger dog and she, much like a Cyborg in a Terminator movie, regenerates on the car ride home. So we are ready to take a nap, and Mila thinks maybe we should do something else, because she loves to interact with her people.

Okay, we've got the dog food, where do we go next?
Unfortunately, this level of activity is not good for a dog undergoing heartworm treatment. From that same link:
After treatment, the patient must be strictly confined for one month following the final treatment.* No walks, no running around. The dog must live the indoor life. The reason for this is that embolism to some degree is inevitable and it is important to minimize embolism-related problems. Exercise increases heart rate and oxygen demand and we need the heart to rest during this recovery period.
* after each treatment

So we need to keep Mila quiet. Even in her bed, Mila can be raucous! So we started experimenting with heartworm treatment safe medications to calm her. Talk to your vet about this as some can be dangerous for the dog during treatment. After much trial and error, we may have found a combination of things that we hope will help her to stay quiet during her treatment:
  •  A different crate: Mila was in a GIANT, open wire bed while we were practicing crate rest, so we moved to a GIANT closed crate, like an airline carrier
  • A different location: Mila was right in the middle of things at first, she is now in a bedroom (with the AC on) that is quieter
  • Over the counter medications and remedies were tried and we moved into prescription medications - and we are still experimenting and working on this
  • Animal communicator to explain the situation to Mila (hey, we will try anything to help)
Keeping a dog quiet during heartworm treatment is extremely important and we want Mila to get through this two months well. Thanks for reading!

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