Black Walnut and Other Safe Herbal Heartworm Treatments for My Dog

Updated on July 29, 2019
DrMark1961 profile image

Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.

Even a few heartworms can kill a tiny dog.
Even a few heartworms can kill a tiny dog. | Source

Among the alternatives for safe heartworm treatment, herbal therapy is available.

When the test results come out positive, and your dog does not yet have any symptoms of heartworm disease, herbal treatment is an option you might consider. It may not be as good as slow-kill treatment, but it is a lot safer and less painful than the Immiticide injections. The potential benefit of this treatment, as with the slow-kill ivermectin therapy, is that the heartworms do not die all at once. They will never create a potentially fatal blockage in your dog's vascular system.

This therapy appears to be quicker than the ivermectin method but has only anecdotal evidence to support its use. All of the comments on other websites give glowing reviews of this therapy, but when reading those sites that are selling the therapy, it is impossible to find out if negative comments have been deleted. The main component of the treatment is black walnut. Black walnut hulls have been used for many years to treat intestinal worms. Juglone, the chemical component of black walnuts that prevents other plants from invading its territory, is probably responsible for its effect against worms.

Mugwort, a herb used in heartworm therapy.
Mugwort, a herb used in heartworm therapy. | Source

What Is Involved in Herbal Therapy?

  1. Black walnut
  2. Wormwood
  3. Cloves
  4. Mugwort (Artemesia)
  5. Garlic
  6. Coenzyme Q10

Wormwood, one of the ingredients of herbal heartworm therapy.
Wormwood, one of the ingredients of herbal heartworm therapy. | Source

How Do I Use Alternative Herbal Therapy?

Doses vary considerably, but I will try to give the safest levels from the various sources that I have read.

  1. Black Walnut Hull: One drop on the food once daily, for every ten pounds of body weight. One source suggested giving only one drop the first week, another drop the next week, etc. I read of one dose considerably higher (a full dropper full for an 85-pound dog) and the owner did not report side effects.
  2. Wormwood: Most of the brands on sale are between 300-500mg. The number of drops or the number of capsules is imprecise; one capsule twice daily seems to be a common suggestion.
  3. Cloves: One capsule once daily. The strength varies considerably, depending on the brand.
  4. Mugwort: Two to three artemesia capsules twice daily. (Some capsules are sold with a 500mg label, some do not list the amount of herb contained within.)
  5. Garlic: One clove per ten pounds once daily. If the active component of garlic is to be given the herb should be fresh, not encapsulated.
  6. Coenzyme Q10: This enzyme is present in the body at all times and is sold so that it can improve the function of the heart. It is dosed around 100mg per day but the capsules can be opened and divided for smaller dogs. (Some holistic vets recommend this for heartworm prevention. There is no proof of its efficacy.)

Black walnut still on the tree.
Black walnut still on the tree. | Source

Are There Side Effects?

Coughing: The coughing may be due to the fluid in the lungs, a direct result of the heartworm infestation, or it might be a side effect of one of the herbal therapies. If you want to try an herbal therapy, yucca may be helpful.

You should find a veterinarian that works with holistic medicine for consultation if you decide to try this therapy. This therapy is controversial, and I cannot guarantee you will find a veterinarian to support you.

The saddest part about reading all of these stories on the internet is knowing how easy it would have been to prevent this disease. Many of the visitors who post at the herbal sites complain about the costs, and their dogs suffer when they could have been protected for only a few dollars per year. Treatment of any sort is an expensive process, but much worse is the pain the dogs go through for an easily preventable illness.

One of the products sold over several of the sites warns that their product should be used as a preventative and ivermectin should not be given at the same time. This is an irresponsible statement. If someone wants to try the herbal therapy that is fine but to tell the client to stop using the ivermectin is wrong.

Is this effective? Many vets have tried it, and the results that have been reported are good. No scientific studies of its effectiveness are available, however.

I do not want to be too negative but can tell you for sure that some other methods, like slow kill, definitely work. I am sure that there are plenty of “steroid” vets who think alternative therapies for allergies are incorrect, so at this point I am keeping an open mind and hope that others will tell us about their successes and failures.

Using the herbal heartworm therapy instead of the slow-kill method (ivermectin) may not be wrong. If you do not have a problem with giving your dog a small amount of an anti-parasite drug each month, the ivermectin will definitely work and your dog can eventually be free of this parasite. It is definitely less painful and does not cause as much stress as the Immiticide injections.

If there is any research published in this area that might help your dogs, I will add it to this article.

This video discusses juglone, the chemical produced by the black walnut tree.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Questions & Answers

  • I have 3 dogs at about 100lbs each. None have heartworms but I live in the south. I would like to try an alternative but don't quite understand dosage. What do you suggest?

    This alternative has never been investigated as a preventative, only as a cure. I cannot recommend it as a preventative. If you want to prevent this painful disease in your dogs, which you definitely should, look into giving oral heartworm preventative. You can purchase sheep dewormer very cheap, and a bottle will last you for years. Here are the dosages: https://pethelpful.com/dogs/Heartworm-Preventative...

  • Do you have a specific chart of proper dosage for Black Walnut hull extract for my dog?

    No, the dose has not been worked out that well anyway. Sources vary but some recommend one drop per 10 pounds of body weight.

  • How long should I use black walnut to treat an 80# dog for heartworm, using the 1 drop per every 10 pounds? That would be 8 drops per day for how long?

    The information available is only anecdotal. No clinical trials have proven that this works, but some veterinarians reccommend 2 to 3 weeks of treatment.

    Please do not treat longer than that. There have been cases of toxicity reported. None of these cases have been proven, however.

Comments

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    • Jennifer Drew profile image

      Jennifer D 

      4 months ago from Memphis

      Dr. Mark, I ordered the sheep French. I wish I could have caught him sooner. He ran feral for 6 years. Thank you very much.

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      4 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Jennifer I do not think the black walnut is going to help at this stage. If your dog is already coughing he has most likely developed some heart enlargement due to the heartworm infection.

      Since you are already giving heartgard, take a look at the information on slow kill with ivermectin. https://pethelpful.com/dogs/Safe-Heartworm-Treatme...

      It is going to be a lot less expensive than the other options, and you can get a sheep drench product (the same thing that is in Heartgard) for a lot less money.

      I wish I could give you a more positive answer. You can read about the stages here: https://pethelpful.com/dogs/heartworm-symptoms-in-... When he gets too bad you may need to make a hard decision.

    • Jennifer Drew profile image

      Jennifer D 

      4 months ago from Memphis

      My dog was feral for 6 years and I have had him 6 months. He is a 58 pound, 6-8 year old lab mix. He has heartworms and I do not have the $2000. for the treatment. I give him the heartguard once a month. The past few days, he has started coughing pretty severely. Will black walnut help him?

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      4 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      I think your vet recommended that you not use the traditional rapid kill, which is a chemical that causes all of the heartworms to die at once. It is harsh. The slow kill method is not.

      No, I cannot tell you that these methods are going to be any easier on her than the slow kill method with ivermectin.

      Whether you decide to try one of the treatments above, or the slow kill method, you should do something. Death secondary to heartworms is terrible and should be avoided if at all possible.

      Best of luck with her.

    • profile image

      Cean 13 

      4 months ago

      Thank you for this information. I have a 14 year old girl who has just been diagnosed with heartworms. Her only symptoms so far are sleeping for much of the day (could just be age) and occasional coughing, though not daily. Due to her age and health our vet doesn’t recommend the traditional slow kill treatment as it can be very harsh. Would any of the mentioned holistic rememdies be a safer and gentler method of treatment? Her quality of life is still very good, she is playful and eating well and though we know that most likely we will have to make an end of life plan in the foreseeable future, I would spare her from any discomfort due to heartworms if they can at all be treated. Thank you.

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      4 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Marissa, there is no experimental data for that. If I was going to use black walnut (I prefer the slow kill method with ivermectin) then I would start right away.

      Since you do not mind using the Interceptor, I suggest you look into the slow kill method.

    • profile image

      Marissa 

      4 months ago

      Hello, I could pay for full heartworm treatment, so I took the Interceptor plus because I needed a specific preventative since my dog already has heartworms. I also gave her 1 pill of bravecto. In your opinion would my dog taking these medicines and trying the black walnut possibly be a bad mix. Or would it be a good idea to try a drop a day for the first week and monitor her?

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      4 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Sabrina, there is no evidence that all of the products would work better than just the one. I think you should try the black walnut or wormwood first, monitor the results, then go on to the next alternative.

    • profile image

      Sabrina 

      4 months ago

      do. i use all of the herbs together or just try one thanks

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      5 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Wedel, garlic is related to onions. Onions are bad for dogs. Therefore, the wisdom of the internet claims that garlic is bad for dogs.

      This is so much .... Garlic is not bad for dogs.

    • profile image

      wedel 

      5 months ago

      Howdy

      I thought garlic was bad for dogs?

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      6 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Jennifer, nosodes do not work. This has been proven in numerous experiments. The people that are still using them refuse to accept the truth.

      The article does give the black walnut dose. It is one drop per 10 pounds. This is a treatment, not a preventative. No one has ever proven that this works to prevent the disease.

      (I use ivermectin on my own dogs, It is a very tiny dose, and only given once per month. It is certainly a lot less chemicals than most dogs come into contact with each day just running around the yard, eating things off the ground, and breathing air.)

      If you are interested in this preventative here is an article I wrote with doseages https://pethelpful.com/dogs/Heartworm-Preventative...

    • profile image

      Jennifer 

      6 months ago

      I found some information about using heartworm nosodes as a preventative and/ or treatment. It seems like not a lot of information about it is out there, other than the few holistic vets that offer them and say it has worked for them for years. I would be curious on your thoughts of this verse the Black walnut with other herbs as prevention as I sure don't see a recommended Black walnut dosage/ guideline on how much and how often?

    • profile image

      Dr Karl Buchanan 

      10 months ago

      The use of Black Walnut, Clove & Wormwood appears to work on dogs as well as it does humans to me?

      Personally, I would avoid ivermectin at all costs. It is harsh and doesn't have any benefits. I don't worry about feeding the herbs twice a year and we have been very happy.

      We build the doses up over a week of course, 1-2-3-up to weight, but they can eat it for 6-8 weeks. We don't even use piperazine for dogs or cats these days.

      Some other herbs are helpful in prevention between wormings.Our dogs use essiac and reishi/cordyceps/turkey tail mushrooms as regular diet staples. They are much gentler as a purgative, but still seem to render the body an uninhabitable place for heart worms owing to acidic components in them.

      That has been our experience over 20 years with over 50 dogs at Rosewood sanctuary & special needs house. It's always good to find less harsh remedials that may even have benefits.

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      15 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Pat, not at all. I think that is in the best interest of your dog.

    • profile image

      Pat 

      15 months ago

      After three weeks od herbal thereapy does it hurt to give your ivermectrin once a month?

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      16 months ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Bailey, I can certainly understand your reluctance to use the arsenic injections. I am much more positive about the slow kill method since your dog does not have clinical symptoms. The worms take longer to die, but they will, and the effects are a lot less serious.

      Read this and let me know if you have any questions: https://pethelpful.com/dogs/Safe-Heartworm-Treatme...

    • profile image

      BAILEY 

      16 months ago

      MY DOG HAS AN APPOINTMENT COMING UP WITH THE VET THOUGH I'VE THOUGHT ABOUT IT SINCE I SET THE APPOINTMENT FOR HER. I CAN'T BY ANY MEANS PUT HER THROUGH SOMETHING SO HORRIBLE AS TO LET THEM INJECT HER 2 DAYS IN A ROW WITH ARSENIC TO BE IN SUCH HORRIBLE PAIN AND TO MAKE HER SO SICK. I'M NOT TAKING TO HER APPOINTMENT. I'VE READ ABOUT SOME NATURAL REMEDIES (BLACKWALNUT, HAWTHORN, WORMWOOD ARTEMESIA, COCONUT OIL, GARLIC, CARROTS, VRM2) ARE ALL SUPPOSE TO BE GOOD FOR KILLING HEARTWORM, BUT I READ SOME BLOGS AND SOME STATED THAT BLACKWALNUT DOESN'T KILL HEARTWORM IT STATED ITS MORE LIKE A PREVENTIVE. COULD YOU SUGGEST ANYTHING FOR MY DOG TO TAKE, I'M RUNNING OUT OF TIME CAUSE THE ONLY SYMPTOM SHE IS SHOWING IS THAT SHE SLEEPS ALOT AND WHEN I TAKE HER OUT FOR HER WALK SHE PANTS ALOTS BUT SHE HAS A THICK FUR AND ITS HOT OUTSIDE. SHE IS A VERY PASSIVE AND CALM AND BEAUITFUL DOG. I DON'T WANT HER TO SUFFER AND I DON'T WANT TO RISK HER LIFE WITH THE INJECTIONS THE VET HAS. SO IF BY ANY CHANCE COULD YOU GIVE ME ADVICE ON WHICH OF THESE I COULD USE TO KILL THE HEARTWORMS. I'VE BEEN GIVING HER COCONUT OIL, CARROTS, AND GARLIC EVERY DAY WITH HER MEALS.

    • profile image

      Dewdog 

      2 years ago

      I believe this derived from The Honorable Late Doctor Huda Clark... Amazon has her books.... Her clinic in Mexico was the Only clinic with a 100% success for healing diseases. I've done the black walnut tinc. , Wormwood, Clove and boiled a bundle of fresh parsley for 3 min. In 1 quart of water(1 teaspoon for every 10 pounds and keep it in the freezer- flushes the kidneys after parasites die).

    • profile image

      KITKAT 

      2 years ago

      I will have to try this. My son's dog was on Heartgaurd plus which worked good but then the vet changed him to Trifexis and this heartworm medication almost killed him. He hasn't been the same since. We are going natural from now on. Thank-You!

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      7 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      The directions on doses are in the article "Heartworm Prevention for your dog for less than 10 dollars a year". I bought a bottle of the cattle dewormer for my dog and she only gets one drop a month. The sheep dewormer is less concentrated but it is still a very small amount. Take a look; it is really affordable.

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image

      Melissa Flagg COA OSC 

      7 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      Mosquito season is pretty much March through the end of October lol

      What's this sheep drench alternative? Hubby's on workman's comp at the moment till he heals from surgery, and it's almost time for her treatment... every little bit helps!

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      7 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      Thanks for your comment. Again, I want to emphasize that the black walnut hull seems like an effective antiparasitical but not a heartworm preventative. I apologize if I am harping on the issue but the conventional preventative is so cheap and effective, and the failure to prevent the disease can be so terrible for the dog.

    • jcevans2009 profile image

      Judith C Evans 

      7 years ago from Boise, ID

      Lots of valuable information here! I did not know about black walnut hull as an anti-parasitic. Glad you published this article!

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      7 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      I agree that the black walnut hull tincture looks like a great natural remedy for intestinal parasites, but the heartworm preventative is such a small dose, just one drop once a month during mosquito season (which is all year down here, not sure about Florida), that even the ivermectin sensitive dogs like Shelties and Aussies can handle it. Most of the posters on the internet complain about the high price too, which is true if you are supporting the big pharmaceutical corporations. If you buy the sheep drench alternative though it is less than 10 bucks a year. I live frugally, but I can´t see anyone who owns a dog thinking that is too much.

    • Daughter Of Maat profile image

      Melissa Flagg COA OSC 

      7 years ago from Rural Central Florida

      Fascinating read! I've actually been looking for an herbal remedy to treat intestinal worms, the treatments from the vet make my cats violently ill and I wonder if they were given an improper dose. So the black walnut may prove beneficial.

      I agree with you that for heartworms the best treatment is prevention. One shot every year is a much better alternative to the suffering of a dog, or any animal. Unfortunately, Sekhmet does get sick a few days after treatment, and I've been looking for a safer preventative that actually works. I don't trust pharmaceuticals mainly because we really don't know exactly what they do in actual practice. We only know what they do in a lab. But sometimes they are unavoidable.

      I suspect the best route for natural prevention would be mosquito repellant lol. But I have yet to find a decent herbal that works. At any rate, this is a step in the right direction. It does make me wonder again about vitamin C... :D

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      7 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      I don't see how. The brewers yeast boosts vitamin B levels, garlic (fresh, not capsules) has allicin, a chemical that in some way repels external parasites. I really think ivermectin is the only safe way to go for prevention.

    • wetnosedogs profile image

      wetnosedogs 

      7 years ago from Alabama

      Interesting, indeed. Would the garlic in brewer's yeast and garlic tabs work against heartworm?

    • DrMark1961 profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Mark 

      7 years ago from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil

      I really appreciate the kind words. If you are interested in natural health solutions for your dog I have published a lot of articles on the subject. Unfortunately I do not think this is the best alternative for heartworm, but we have to keep searching.

    • Reynold Jay profile image

      Reynold Jay 

      7 years ago from Saginaw, Michigan

      Thanks for the great information here. I love dogs and anything we can do for them is my mission in life. I enjoyed this very much. You have this laid out beautifully and it is easy to understand. Keep up the great HUBS. I gotta give this an Up ONE AND very INFORMATIVVE . I'm now your fan!

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