Heartworm Prevention at Home
By Anthony Jorgensen
All dogs need to be given some form of heartworm preventive. Heartworms are transmitted to dogs through mosquito bites in which microfilaria is transferred to the dog. If left untreated, this microfilaria will grow into full grown heartworms. If your dog is on a heartworm preventative then what will happen is that the microfilaria will be killed before they are able to mature. For dogs who live in warm and tropical climates heartworm is one of the leading causes of death. While there are treatments for heartworm, the best approach is still prevention. One problem that some people have is the cost of providing dogs with constant heartworm preventative. This is especially true in people who run rescues or have multiple dogs for hunting or other purposes. These people often use oral Ivermectin to treat all of their dogs. This is an option but there are some things that a pet owner should know about doing this before considering it.
Not Labeled for Use
One problem that people run into when looking into giving their dogs liquid Ivermectin rather than something like HeartGuard is that the product is not really labeled for use in dogs as a heartworm preventive. This means that finding the right dosage can be tricky. In addition, most vets will not even participate in telling you the right way to use a product that is not labeled for use in dogs. There are many products that are not labeled for use in dogs but are regularly used for them anyway. The key is in finding someone who you can trust to give you the right instructions. In this article I will attempt to give the most accurate information I can but remember never to use anything you read on the internet without making sure with a veterinarian when it comes to something as important as your dog’s health.
The Right Dosage
First it is important to mention that you should never use Ivermectin PLUS on dogs to prevent heartworm. There are other chemicals in this product that can seriously harm or even kill your dog. It is also vital to mention that you should never use any form of Ivermectin on any herding breeds as there is something in it that they cannot tolerate. If you have a herding breed make sure your heartworm preventative comes from your vet. Now with all that being, the right dosage for dogs is 0.0015 mg to 0.003 mg for each pound of the dog’s body weight. Translated that is 1.5 mcg. to 3 mcg for each pound. Also very important is the type you buy. You should use a 1% solution of cattle/swine Ivermectin.
Overdosing Your Dog
You have to be really careful when giving this medication to your dog as it is easy to make a mistake and give him/her an overdose. This does not mean you should not use it just that you should be sure you are very sure of the right dosage. If you do not know an exact weight for your dog then make sure you get one before giving the dog the dosage of medication. Your dog’s body weight is a vital factor in making sure you give him/her the right amount of medication. An overdose can result in serious neurological problems and even death for your dog so make sure you do your homework and get all of your facts straight before using this product.
Using HeartGuard Less Often Than Recommended
If one of the reasons you have been considering the use of Ivermectin instead of HeartGuard for your dog/dogs is to save a bit of money then you can also use HeartGuard a little less often if that is a better alternative for you. HeartGuard is labeled to be used once monthly but some rescues and animal shelters stretch use to every 6 to 8 weeks. This saves the rescue money without actually compromising the dog’s health as it takes time for microfilaria to mature and become harmful anyway. This may not be the most ideal solution but if the alternative is no heartworm preventative then using HeartGuard a little less often will work just fine.
There are some fairly easy treatments for heartworm provided the heartworm has been caught in the earlier stages. However, there is always a risk of heart failure during treatment for heartworm. If your dog is showing any signs of heartworm and has not been on preventative for at least 18 months, make sure and get him/her to a vet for a heartworm test. This test is usually only about $25.00 and will help you to act quickly in regards to treatment. In addition, never start a dog on any type of heartworm preventative who is above the age of one year old without first having him/her tested. If you attempt to give a heartworm positive dog heartworm preventative, you could actually kill the dog so this is very important.
Heartworm infestation is very painful to dogs and can be deadly. There is no reason that a domesticated dog should ever get heartworm. It is just too easy to prevent and there seems to be little excuse for not doing so. Even people with low or poor income can find a way to cut back on something for the sake of their animals it seems. In reality if a person is unwilling to take full responsibility of every aspect of care for a dog then that person probably has no business having a dog.