Before using any type of preventative dog heartworm medicine, your dog must have a heartworm test done by a vet. It is commonly accepted and recommended by the American Heartworm Society that your dog should be tested every year. (Read their full response to the question by using the link). If there are microfilariae present in the blood test, the youngest form of the larvae of this parasite, this means that there are also adult worms present. Using a preventative medicine will result in large numbers of these microfilariae dying quickly and causing toxic shock. Preventative medicines will not kill adult worms although they may shorten their lifespan.
Whilst preventative dog heartworm medicine can protect your dog very effectively, you need to be sure that there are no adult worms present, even if your dog has been on a prevention program. Puppies over six months old will also be tested if they have not already begun on a preventative treatment.
The types of heartworm preventative commonly used today
Twice-yearly injection of a preventative medicine that must be administered by a vet.
Heartworm pills which are divided into two types, the plain pills or the chewable type. These are given monthly on the same day each month (see video below).
Spot On or Topical treatments which are ‘spotted’ onto the dog’s skin between the shoulder-blades.
If you are trying to find ways to economise on your pet’s healthcare, one of the things you might be considering is where and how you could buy his heartworm medication more cheaply. One of the main places people are trying, is the Internet as many companies retailing these medication hold huge stocks and are able to offer big discounts. These are certainly very attractive but there are a few things you should take into consideration that will help to protect both you and your dog from some unscrupulous sellers out there.
First of all, you should be aware that the FDA has expressed some concerns about buying medications for your pet online. There are two main types of drugs which appear in their guide to buying pet meds online. These are heartworm med and pain relief drugs that fall into the NSAID group (Non Steroidal Anti Inflammatories).
You can find yourself falling foul of some of the pitfalls if you are not armed with the right information before you go shopping for a bargain! Martine Hartogensis D.V.M. is quoted as saying that some online stores selling these meds are:-
“… fronts for unscrupulous businesses operating against the law.”
As she is the Deputy Director for the FDA’s Office of Surveillance and Compliance at the Center for Veterinary Medicine, you had better believe she does not say this lightly and take note!
Some of these sites have been found by the FDA to be selling out of date legitimate products but also counterfeits of approved medications. They have also been found to be selling medications that do not have FDA approval. Some sites are also willing to dispense drugs that should never be given without a prescription without ensuring that a legitimate prescription for that drug exists.
So, as you can see, there are some serious dangers. You could be getting medication that is out of date, you might believe you are buying the usual brand dispensed by your Vet, but end up with counterfeit preparations. You might also be assured that a product will do the job and be safe and effective – but if it isn’t FDA approved, would you trust it? Do you really want to put your pet’s life in danger?
Any medication which causes him further health problems or which does not protect him effectively from heartworm is not a saving at all. It could involve you in a great deal of unnecessary expense and your pet in a great deal of unnecessary suffering. There is a helpful video below – it is only short, but well worth watching.
With heartworm preventative medicines, there is a very serious danger if you have not had your dog tested for heartworm disease by a veterinarian prior to putting him on a preventative drug. This is because only proper testing by your vet can determine whether your dog already has adult heartworms. If you give preventative medicine to a dog with adult worms there could be very serious reactions. So before contemplating buying heartworm medicine, you should definitely get your dog tested.
Another point to consider if you are trying to make savings online, is that putting your dog on heartworm preventatives without first getting a heartworm test to ensure he is heartworm free, can be dangerous. Only a Vet can confirm whether or not your dog is infected with adult worms. Preventive meds given to a dog who has adult worms could cause serious complications. So, even if you are certain that you are making good savings going to a legitimate online retailer, be sure to get your dog tested first.
There is a very simple acronym that the FDA advise we all take note of when buying pet meds online. This is that we should all be A.W.A.R.E.
A- Ask your veterinarian
W-Watch for red flags
A-Always check for site accreditation
R-Report suspicious online pet pharmacies
E-Educate yourself about online pharmacies
If you can reassure yourself that by making savings online, you are not putting your pet in any danger by buying from unscrupulous retailers, there are definitely some good savings to be made. So, check out the guidelines first and keep your pet safe.
I read a story recently about a lady who had adopted a heartworm-positive Labrador.
This dog is around five years of age and has probably had the disease for some time.
As I have explained in previous articles on this site, a heartworm antigen test is a good way to tell if a dog is infected and until the later stages when symptoms tend to appear, the test may be your only way of telling if your dog has these worms.
This lovely dog had the antigen test and it came back positive.
This test has an indicator which shows whether worms are present or not and the faster the indicator shows up indicates the level of severity of the infestation because there are more antigens present in the blood sample. As the owner explained, as a dog ages, it is natural to expect him to slow down a little but this lack of stamina can also be indicative of an impaired heart function because of adult worms blocking the chambers and she had no idea until the test results, that this was the problem with her dog.
As she went on to explain, the cost of treating a dog with heartworm is huge by comparison to the few dollars a month for preventative treatment. Depending on the severity of the disease, treatment can be around the $1,000 dollars mark. Also there are many other possible complications that will require additional treatment and rack up extra costs.
Of course all this for a dog-lover is secondary to the anguish that they, as owners, have to endure – to see the animal they love go through such pain and distress. If a dog is left untreated, heart failure will be the end result. If you live in an area where heartworm is a risk factor, the monthly preventative heartworm pills will kill any larvae present in the blood and prevent them from developing into adults. Perhaps it is simply because people do not realise just how serious this disease can be that they do not get the annual check and monthly meds that will reduce the chance of any infection to almost negligible. Anyone who has a dog in a heartworm area is taking a huge risk with their pet’s health if they do not get the preventative treatment.
This dog certainly does not mind taking heartworm medicine!
As mentioned earlier, symptoms do not present until quite a late stage in the disease so the first you may know about the fact your dog has been infected is when he collapses – by this time, sadly it may be too late to save him.
This dog was lucky enough to get a diagnosis at an early enough stage to make a full recovery. Take a look at our pages on heartworm prevention and medications to see how you can keep your dog safe.
Discount Heartgard is available from a variety of suppliers on the internet.
Packs of six tablets are available as follows:- Blue Tablets Dogs to 11 kgs, Green Tablets Dogs 12 to 22 kgs, Brown Tablets Dogs 23 to 45 kgs,
Discount Nuheart which is the generic form of these tablets is available as follows:-
Blue for dogs up to 25 lbs, Green for dogs 26-50 lbs, Red for dogs 51-100 lbs
Discount Heartgard Plus Chewables are also available in packs of six and twelve if you prefer to give the medication in a chewable form:-
Blue for Small dogs under 25 lbs, Green for Medium dogs 26-50 lbs, Brown for Large dogs 51-100 lbs
If your dog is larger than 100lbs in weight, a combination of tablets should be used. The manufacturers advise that if your dog normally swallows a treat whole, without chewing it, that you should break the treat into small pieces.
It seems that about 35% of Collies and some other herding dogs such as Australian Shepherds, Old English Sheepdogs and Shetland Sheepdogs are affected by a genetic mutation that causes Ivermectin to build up to toxic levels in the brain. – The following quote from http://www.veterinarypartner.com
“Approximately 35% of Collies have a genetic mutation creating a non-functional P-glycoprotein. This allows for ivermectin doses that would normally be blocked from the central nervous system to gain access to it….. There is now a test for P-glycoprotein mutation so that ivermectin-sensitive dogs can be identified. This is a DNA test using an oral swab. Test kits can be ordered directly from the Washington State University Veterinary School.s.”
The same site goes on to say:-
“Heartworm preventive doses are so low that side effects are not produced even in ivermectin-sensitive individuals.”
Some animals are allergic to the medication and sometimes dogs are allergic to the ingredients used in the chewable tablets. If this is the case with your dog and you find it hard to get him to take a pill, there are pill pockets available that you can pop a tablet inside and seal it up before giving it to your dog.
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