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Rescue standard poodle, Heartworm positive, questions!

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

We have a pet-free household right now and boys 8 and 13months. We are looking for a very calm adult dog to be a companion (especially to DS, 8) A somewhat local rescue has a standard poodle available.


"H is a 3 yr old male chocolate standard poodle. He weighs in at about 60 lbs, and gets along great with other dogs, and kids, too. He lives with 4 children now. H is a nice boy who will make some lucky person a great family pet. He is neutered, has all his shots, HW positive, and microchipped."


Some details from my phone call:

* he is a former breeder dog from Ohio (breeder retired)

* he is heartworm positive but not "fast positive". He may have missed heartworm meds doses at the breeder.

* he does not have the "heartworm look" or any other signs.

* rescuer is suggesting that he be kept on heartworm meds for one year, then re-test. (and probably keep him on the meds after that anyway.) The rescuer suggests that monthly meds can be used as an alternative to arsenic-based treatment method. (which she says costs $1000 and requires overnight at vet.)

* this dog is considered "special needs" due to HW and get a reduced adoption fee.


What are the health implications of a heartworm positive dog? What are the behavior implications of a kennel-raised, former breeder dog?


post #2 of 10
Thread Starter 

More questions:

Does a treated heartworm problem affect the lifespan of a dog?

With a standard poodle, should we have x-rays done to check for hip displasia?

post #3 of 10

I've known plenty of successfully treated, formerly infected with heartworm - dogs.  I think the issue is the extent of the damage to the heart muscle.  I don't know if the qualtity of microfilaria in a blood test is a reliable indicator of the number of adult heartworms in the heart.

Are you paying an adoption fee for this dog?  Heartworm treatment is costly and you will have to keep the dog's phsical activity restricted for a duration of time after treatment.  This is because the medication kills the adults which are lodged in the heart.  From there, they will break up and be elminated by the body.  There is a risk of a clot of them breaking free and lodging and blocking blood flow.  I would ask around for a veterinary suggestion from some friends and see if you can arrange a phone consult to discuss what you will be dealing with if you take this dog.  Generally rescue organizations handle medical issues before placement.  It could be that they want to make sure this dog is suitable for your family and that he will have a forever home before investing in the treatment (if they are going to do it).  Are they expecting you to provide the treatment?  If so, are they adjusting any adoption fee to reflect this expense?


As for any issues he might have from being a kennel dog/breeding dog?  That depends upon how well socialized he is.  If he's never seen the light of day because he's been kenneled his whole life, he could be shy and scared of new experiences.  Generally any reputable adoption/rescue group will have the ability to assess a dog's likelihood of being mentally balanced in a home.


I probably wouldn't worry about hip dysplasia too much.  I don't know the prevalence of it in the breed but don't think of them as being heavily effected.  (Not like Ger Shepherds, Bernese Mountain Dogs etc).  If he had obvious movement issues, I'd reconsider.

post #4 of 10

Our current Golden was HW positive when we adopted him.   His adoption fee was not reduced because he was expected to have no long-term issues once treated.   But, the rescue paid for the heartworm treatment (which, yes, can cost 1k).      Is the rescue suggesting that you pay for the treatment?  


We did get him when he was in the middle of the treatment... so he came to us during the activity restriction phase.   But, all went well, and he is a healthy happy boy now.   


if treatment is successful, being HW positive should not affect the lifespan of the dog   

post #5 of 10

I can't address the heartworm issue, but one of my dog's best friends is a standard poodle. I love him to bits, but I wouldn't describe him as calm. Gentle, yes, absolutely. Not a fierce, protective, prey-driven bone in his body, but he is pretty excited and active.

I'm not sure what the norm is for the breed. The dog I know is 2.5.


post #6 of 10

It sounds like the rescue is suggesting the slow kill method....for that you dont really need to do anything to restrict activity and its not really expensive meds.  Its just continue to give the heartworm pills which they should be on anyways (though I think there may be some doxy in the protocol as well, but am not sure).  Yes, with a small load and treatment they live normal lives.  


Xray for hip arent really worth it at this point.  Before breeding its good to know so if a dog shows signs they are not bred and then if a dog starts to have issues sure, xray for diagnosis.  HD can be very treatable too.  I have a rescue friend who has treated many HD dogs with supplements and has had amazing success.

post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 


I appreciate all the input ... it is the "slow kill" method the dog is being treated with. One year of Interceptor (milbemycin oxime) at the standard dosage for a 50-100lb dog. I called the manufacturer, who confirmed that this is an "off label" usage. Can anyone point me to "evidence based" info about the effectiveness and safety of the slow kill method?


We are probably going to pass on adopting this dog. I can't put my sons through the heartbreak adopting a dog who could have a substantially shortened lifespan due to heart damage.. and we are not going to adopt this dog then put him through the arsenic-based treatment costing $1000. (partly because we are not set up to keep the dog calm during recovery.)


In case anyone is wondering, the rescue organization who has this dog is very small (one person?). I think the decision to go with "slow kill" vs. the agressive method may be cost related.

post #8 of 10

Lee Cullens has authored a very comprehensive research paper on Heartworm and the various treatments both allopathic, alternative and natural.


The Whole Story About Heartworm (much of which you may not be told otherwise)

post #9 of 10
I also don't think of standard poodles as "calm" dogs. They are very intelligent, and also tend to be active. So they tend to need a lot of stimulation- both physical exercise and mental exercise, to keep them happy and out of trouble. Certainly all dogs are individuals and he may not be as active as others in his breed, but in general, thats not what I think of when I think of standard poodles. That would be something to keep in mind. Also, even if he is genuinely calm at the moment, it could potentially be due to his heartworm issue, and that if once treatment is successful, he will become more energetic.
post #10 of 10

Slow kill is cheaper, yes, but in many cases it is also safer and better for the dog.  Standard heartworm treatment is really really rough on a dog.  


Personally, I would not pass on an otherwise fitting dog because of this.  If its a small load and his heart is good now, the treatment will kill off the worms and he will be fine.


I too dont think of standards as calm dogs, but they are very good and stable usually.  They are not super active like a border collie or anything and do mellow with age.

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