Heartworm Treatment


Hello Everyone. As promised, today I’m barking about how to treat & prevent heartworm. There are several medications but there is some controversy as to how often it should be administered. Except for the warmest parts of the U.S. (mainly in the southeast), heartworms are a seasonal problem. During seasons when there are no mosquitoes, there is no risk of heartworm infection. But pharmaceutical companies pressure vets to prescribe heartworm medications year round.

The most common preventative drugs for heartworm are ivermectin (Heartgard®), milbemycin (Interceptor®) & selamectin (Revolution®). These drugs are generally safe & effective,  but there are always exceptions. The toxicity associated with ivermectin include depression, ataxia (balance problems), & blindness, but these are uncommon at the low doses used in heartworm preventatives. Ivermectin should be used with caution in collies & related breeds such as Old English Sheepdogs & Australian Shepherds, who are more sensitive to the drug’s neurological effects. Milbemycin, the most common alternative drug for collie breeds, can cause depression/lethargy, vomiting, ataxia, anorexia, diarrhea, convulsions, weakness & hyper salivation (drooling). Selamectin is also used to treat ear mites; adverse reactions include hair loss at the site of application, diarrhea, vomiting, muscle tremors, anorexia, lethargy, salivation & rapid breathing.

Unfortunately, studies have shown that the heartworm is slowly developing resistance to these drugs.

As for alternative, all natural treatments, let me start by saying you need to consult with your vet before trying anything on your good dog or cat. While some natural treatments can help to “repel” pests (i.e., make your dog/cat less attractive to mosquitoes), their effectiveness to actually prevent infection is inconclusive & they are definitely not guaranteed to be 100% effective. Furthermore, some natural alternatives are downright dangerous. As an example, one “natural” treatment contains sheep sorrel, & grain alcohol, which are both toxic to dogs & cats.

One alternative approach I sniffed out was to have a special DNA test done which can detect the presence of heartworm larvae. Depending on where you live & the length of mosquito season will determine how often the test is required (about every 4 months to detect larvae before they develop can into adults). If the test is negative, you won’t need treatment & if it’s positive, you will most likely be able to kill the larvae before they reach maturity.

To conclude, at this time it is probably best to first see your vet & give your good dog or cat a recommended heartworm medication but only during the months that mosquitoes are active.

I found a free guide you can download to learn more.

CEO Olivia

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