Monday, October 24, 2011

Life After Heartworm Treatment

It has been a while since we posted, wanting to see how Mila was doing before making any statements as to her health and wellness!

When Mila first came here, she did not have a lot of muscle tone, having been in a kennel for 7 months. In the time that she was kenneled, waiting to see if her human was going to be able to go home again, Mila lost a considerable amount of weight, which was great. But she didn't have any strength. So we slowly did yard walks, working up to a few loops and by that time, Mila was into it and was soon running around, happy with the activity she was able to do.

The almost 4 months of crate rest did a good job of reversing that progress! However, heartworm free is the way to be (Mila wants buttons made up with that on them, stat). So while we are now back to yard walks, she will be able to build her strength and endurance without giant worms living in her heart and lungs. We're no scientists, but we feel like that gives her a leg up, so to speak.

If you've ever had to have bed rest for any length of time, or known anyone who has, you know how tiring it is to resume normal activities, more so for a senior, even one with lots of moxie! So we've been working on that too.

Add all of this together, crate rest, "isolation" (no outings), and lack of physical activity and think about what you would be like with all of this...that's where Mila is at right now. For some dogs there is a bit of an adjustment back to normal life. Some hop right back in, and others (we like to think it's due to Mila's intelligence and sensitivity) do have a little period where they need to get the kinks out. They've been through difficult, painful treatment that often makes them feel quite ill, and it is not surprising it can take a little bit to get back to their normal.

Again, the treatment, while hard, is much better than dying from heartworm disease, which is a very difficult ending for pets. So no matter how you treat, please do treat (and when Immiticide comes back, we know that is the best way to treat for most cases, talk to your vet).

But Mila remains happy and upbeat and amazes those who meet her because she is a very spirited senior!

She got to go to the groomer, and despite having been groomed 3 other times and enjoying it immensely, Mila did get a little attitude. We couldn't get her to hold still for her nail trim so she got to wear a muzzle and that calmed her right down so she got to keep it on for the whole bath. 
I'm wearing a party hat!
I exploded!

As soon as I got my way, I was happy.
And pretty, and shiny!

Does anyone have any questions? Please let us know!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Treatment Ends! And Mila's List of Maybe Haves

Mila's treatment has officially ended! Mila is slowly increasing her activity and hilariously, is only going potty in the spot she's used since June when she tested heartworm positive and began leash restrictions.

Today she ventured a few feet away for a good roll, but then right back in as if she was still attached to a long line. It's good to take it slow, as the heartworms do not have calendars so some may still be clogging up her business in there. It was also good she wanted to take it slow this week because we were so busy.

Next week she goes for a grooming and then will have her re-debut at the rescue meet and greet. Mila is very social and nosy so these events are great for her.

She would never presume to tell you what you MUST have so these are some of the maybe haves that might help you should you need to take a dog through heartworm treatment.

1a. Mila took a lot of medicines during this whole process. From the doxycycline, to things used to keep her quiet, to prednisilone, and more antibiotics, Mila needed to take her pills well and she did. Your dog probably has things that they like to get pills in, but Mila really enjoyed:
Sometimes low-fat, sometimes regular, Cream Cheese
1b. We found this canned food when she was sick, in a local grocery store (the food was in the store, not Mila, because she is also not allowed to drive). The reason we like it so much is that it is VERY soft and makes a great pill meatball (not cooked of course). Even better, you can put it in the frig and it STILL stays soft. It was great for the larger pills. It was also something she would eat when not feeling well, so it got a Gold Star here!
Harmony Farms Canned

2. Mila enjoyed lots of water. We probably don't need a picture of that.

3. And with all that water, especially on the prednisilone, she needed to potty. We tried a shorter leash at first but that was too close for comfort for her. Who can blame her; it's like having to use the bathroom at work. 

So we used an 18 foot biothane lead. What's really nice about that material is that it can be wiped clean when wet, doesn't crack, feels good on your hands (no nylon burns if a dog pulls) and it moves well with the dog. That length worked really well for us because if it was raining, which it did a ton, I could be on the deck under an umbrella and she could be in the yard. We would not recommend a longer line if a dog would run while on it. Use what works best and is safest for your dog.
4. Mila ate a little more than normal during her treatment and many dogs enjoy chew treats. Mila does not. So she has no recommendations for these types of treats, "mind game" toys, or other things that keep dogs occupied in crates. Whatever you choose, make sure you supervise because anything rubber, fabric, plastic, etc., can do a real number on the GI system if ingested, and not even in big amounts.

5. Cool air. Air conditioning works great and should be used in the summer if it all possible. Mila had a small window AC unit in a bedroom. On really hot days a fan was used as well, blowing directly on her to keep her cool.

6. Calming things. Whatever that may be for your dog, if there is something that seems to make them serene, definitely give it a try. If it something that they ingest however, check with your vet to see if it interacts with anything. Music, TTouch, acupuncture, things that do not get a dog excited or moving are very helpful.

7. A big crate. If your dog will do laps in a big crate, maybe the next size down. If your dog is not able to be leashed to you and kept quiet outside of a crate, then a crate is a must. Are there dogs that will just lay at your feet without jumping up and running before you can grab them? (SQUIRREL!) If there are, well, maybe they don't need crate rest. But if there are dogs like that, we haven't met them. And why risk it? (and why don't we risk it - that's riiiiiight, clots!)

BDBH's Rosa stops in to visit her "step-brother" Niko in his giant crate. As you can see this is a crate a dog can get comfy in! While neither of them are undergoing HW tx, it does look like a nice place for a nap.
We'd like a treat now, please.
Mila ended up in an extra large airline type crate that helped to keep her quiet. Well, Mila quiet.

Those are the things that were most helpful to Mila during her treatment. That and a lot of help from her rescue and a great vet office, plus support from her Internet friends. Thank you for that!

Next - what's next after heartworm treatment and the re-debut. Then, what do we do with this blog?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

This Just In: Immiticide Sort of Availability

FDA will allow Merial to import limited amounts of European version of Immiticide:
Veterinarians asked to be conservative in treating dogs with the drug

More links at the bottom of this post.

Rockville, Md. — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced today that it would allow Merial to import limited quanitites of Immiticide from a European supplier to address concerns over a shortage of the drug, which is used to treat heartworm infection in dogs.

FDA says the allowance is temporary while Merial works out technical issues in the plant where Immiticide is manufactured for the United States. Merial’s European supplier, who is the approved source of the product for international markets, has a limited supply for importation which will only satisfy a fraction of the U.S. demand, FDA notes. The agency is asking veterinarians to conserve the limited supply by only using it in dogs in the most urgent need of treatment.

The imported Immiticide will only be available through a restricted distribution program directly from Merial, not through any of its distributors or for purchase to stock clinic inventory, FDA says. The agency notes that the packaging of the imported product is intended for the European market and does not meet U.S. regulatory requirements, so Merial will include the U.S. Immiticide package insert with each shipment.

Shortly after Merial first announced the impending shortage of Immiticide, orders from veterinarians flooded in and cleaned out the company’s stock of the drug, Merial says. The resulting shortage could last for weeks or months, the company says. Since then, Merial says it has recorded requests from veterinarians and, as the limited European supply comes in sometime in October, the company will contact those veterinarians who have made requests.

Additional questions can be directed to Merial at (888) 637-4251.

Also here:

Merial said it expects to receive its first shipment of Immiticide from Europe in October and additional shipments on an intermittent basis thereafter. The imported drug is not FDA approved, but is the approved source of the product for international markets.
The imported product can be identified by lot numbers that begin with the letters “MR.” Merial requested that veterinarians record the lot numbers of any imported product they use. The company also requested that veterinarians conserve the limited supply by using it only for dogs in most urgent need of treatment.
The European Immiticide will only be available directly from Merial through a restricted distribution program. Merial said it has kept records of previous requests and will contact those clinics to complete the order process as appropriate. The European product will not be available through Merial’s distributors or for purchase to stock clinic inventory.
So here is our hope that the neediest cases will receive the treatment that they need and that people will understand the need for, and respect, prioritization.