Lets try to explain how to avoid heartworms altogether. Heartworms can be deadly so it is well worth preventing them in the first place. There are, unfortunately, no natural remedies that work, so you will need to give a medication. All heartworm medications do require a prescription from your veterinarian. The good thing is that there are many options available and even some generic ones which are quite affordable. Most heartworm medications also have the added benefit of preventing other parasites.
To help make a decision which medication is best for your pet you will need to consider a few things such as how it is easiest to administer it. Some dogs and cats simply can’t be tricked with flavored pills, so they need to get the medication in another form. If pills aren’t possible, there are several options where you can apply the medication on the skin. The other big factor to consider when thinking about which medication to use is if you have a necessity for the product to do other things. The heartworm medications often have other ingredients added to them so they do more than prevent heartworms. Depending on which ingredient is added, they can help prevent various intestinal parasites or possibly even fleas or ticks. For some pets it is easier to give an all-in-one type of product, whereas, in other cases you may want to give separate products for things like flea control.
There are a lot of different heartworm medications on the market, but they can be sorted by the active ingredient used to prevent the heartworms. There are actually only 4 different active ingredients that are used for the heartworms themselves; Ivermectin, Selamectin, Moxidectin, and Milbemycin. We will explain the different medications used, but you will still want to consult with your veterinarian which product they recommend. If your pet is prone to getting a certain additional parasite they may want you to use a specific product.
The products that contain Ivermectin are; Heartguard, Heartguard Plus, Tri-Heart Plus, Iverhart Plus, and Iverhart Max. These products are all given by mouth. These products are quite effective at preventing heartworms if given monthly. They tend to be quite safe for nearly all breeds of dogs. There have been some reported cases of breed-related sensitivities with Ivermectin (especially collie-related breeds), but the dose of Ivermectin used in these products is very low and is normally not a problem for any breed if they are given the appropriate dose based on their weight.
Another active ingredient used is Selamectin. The medication that contains this ingredient is Revolution. This is a liquid product applied to the skin. It can be used in dogs and cats and also has the added benefit of working against several internal parasites as well as fleas and ticks. This also tends to be a safe and effective product. Some pets can have some skin sensitivity where the medication is applied, but most pets do very well with it.
Moxidectin is another ingredient used for heartworm prevention. Advantage Multi is the product that uses this. This medication is applied to the skin and also prevents several intestinal parasites as well as fleas. It can be used for both dogs and cats.
The final medication used is Milbemycin. The products Interceptor and Sentinel use this ingredient. These medications are both given by mouth and protect against some additional parasites.
Heartworms are easily preventable with routine preventative medication. Most veterinarians advise giving the products monthly all year long given their added benefits of other parasite prevention. If your pet has missed several months of heartworm preventative or has never been on medication, then your vet will want to do a quick blood test to make sure your pet doesn’t already have them.
We hope you keep your pet on heartworm preventative and your pet doesn’t ever have to be treated for them.