Heartworm disease in dogs life-threatening and costly to treat. The dog heartworm is a parasitic roundworm that causes dirofilariasis. It spreads between hosts through mosquito bites.
Once they have infested a dog, heartworms reside in the lung arteries and the heart. This causes severe damage to the lung vessels and tissues. Therefore, heartworm infestations result in serious complications for your dog, inevitably leading to death. This is why dog heartworm medicine is so important.
You may be considering heartworm medicine for dogs from the market, online, or directly bought from the vet . It can be difficult to know which to choose. We have compared many different brands and explained their pros and cons for you to decide.
What are Heartworm Medicines?
Heartworm disease is a potentially fatal issue for pets worldwide. Large worms that live inside the heart, lungs, and blood vessels of dogs cause this. This causes severe lung disease and heart failure as well as damage to other internal organs. Unfortunately, our furry friends are natural hosts of heartworms. If untreated, heartworm numbers increase up to several hundred.
There are two types of heartworm medicine for dogs: those that treat heartworm infections, and those that prevent heartworm infections. Preventative medicines come as chewable tablets, topical liquids, pills, and injectable medications. The American Heartworm Society recommends that owners should give their pets year-round dog heartworm medicine.
Types of Heartworm Medicine
From pills to capsules, topical to chewable, there is no shortage of options when it comes to taking medication. Surprisingly, there are many differences between the different options that go beyond taste and shelf life. It never hurts to talk to your vet about your options! If your dog refuses tablets and can’t take topical medicines, they should be able to offer alternatives for your pet.
Tablets are relatively cheaper to manufacture. This makes them more affordable. In addition, tablets are more stable and typically have a much longer shelf life than other options. Compared to topical treatments, tablets come in variable forms, including quick-release, delayed-release, and extended-release. After taking tablets, dogs are free to swim and bathe as normal.
As with the other treatment options, tablets come with cons too. They are more likely to irritate the intestinal tract, can disintegrate unevenly, and are often less palatable than chewable tablets. Some dogs refuse to take tablets. Defensive and aggressive dogs may not be able to take tablets without sedation.
Topical treatments are easier to apply in dogs who refuse tablets. Unlike chewable tablets, the ingredients of a topical treatment do not need to be in the bloodstream to start killing parasites. With regular monthly use, some topical treatments reach a steady state. This provides continuous protection from parasites between doses.
On the other hand, topical treatments are more prone to human error. The owner must apply the treatment directly on their pet’s skin, not on the fur, and failing to do so means that the owner could mistakenly believe their pet is protected. In addition, the active ingredients and carriers of the medication often have a bad taste. If your dog licks the product when it is still wet on their fur, it can cause salivation, vomiting, and nausea. Furthermore, some topical medicines require your dog to avoid swimming and bathing after use.
The most obvious advantage of chewable tablets is that they are much easier to consume. If your dog has a hard time swallowing standard tablets, or just doesn’t like the taste, chewable tablets are ideal. If they taste good too, your dog is more likely to want to take them instead of viewing them as a negative experience.
In chewable tablets, they often try to hide bad-tasting ingredients with flavorings and sugar. In addition to this, you should take care to ensure that your dog actually chews the tablets. If your dog is likely to swallow the tablet whole, it’s best to break them up into pieces.
10 Best Dog Heartworm Medicines
It’s important to note that some breeds are hypersensitive to some dog heartworm medicines. This is due to a mutation called the MDRI1 mutation. MDRI1 problems most often affect Collies. Many other herding breeds have a genetic predisposition to adverse drug reactions.
The most serious reactions involve antiparasitic agents (ivermectin and milbemycin) and anticancer drugs (vincristine and doxorubicin). Please consult with your vet before treating your pet with potentially dangerous medications.
1. Interceptor Plus Chewable Tablets for Dogs
Interceptor Plus Chewable Tablets are chicken flavor and come in four doses. You can give the tablet by hand or break it into pieces to hide in your pet’s dog food. Interceptor Plus prevents heartworm infection and controls the infection of several intestinal worms. This includes tapeworms, whipworms, hookworms, and roundworms. This product is made with 228mg Praziquantel and 23mg Milbemycin oxime.
Most dogs can’t resist the taste of Interceptor Plus! According to the manufacturer, 96% of dogs accept these chewable tablets willingly. Just one of these tasty chews protects dogs against five common parasites. This makes it great value for money.
Despite the flavor, some dogs still refuse to eat Interceptor Plus chewable tablets. Some buyers also find that their tablets arrive hard and difficult to break up. In addition, no testing is done to check if it’s safe to give these tablets to lactating females yet.
2. Heartgard Plus Chewable Tablets for Dogs
Heartgard Plus Chewable Tablets are beef flavor tablets for dogs weighing between 51 and 100 lbs. Given monthly, this tablet prevents heartworm infection and treats hookworms too. There are 227mg Pyrantel and 272mcg Ivermectin in this tablet.
The vast majority of dogs can’t resist the taste of beef. That’s why Heartgard formulates these chewable tablets with real beef flavoring! Compared with other tablets on the market, Heartgard is unique in that it’s safe for puppies as young as six weeks. This medication also has a wide margin of safety at the recommended dose.
A very small percentage (1.1%) of dogs experience adverse reactions to Ivermectin. These reactions are diarrhea, vomiting, ataxia, and hypersalivation.
3. Tri-Heart Plus Chewable Tablets for Dogs
Tri-Heart Chewable Tablets are beef flavor and suitable for dogs weighing between 51 and 100 lbs. When given monthly, this tablet prevents heartworm infections and controls hookworms and roundworms. This tablet has 227mg Pyrantel and 272mcg Ivermectin in it.
Tri-Heart Plus comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If your dog has heartworm disease, Tri-Heart Plus Guarantee covers the full cost of the diagnosis and a free one-year supply of the product. The guarantee also applies if your dog doesn’t accept the flavored chewable tablet. Tri-Heart is also 20% cheaper than Heartgard.
While 94% of dogs willingly accept Tri-Heart Plus, the percentage is lower than that of the other products. In addition, a small number (1.1%) of dogs experience adverse reactions to Ivermectin. The adverse effects include diarrhea, vomiting, ataxia, and hypersalivation.
4. Revolution Topical Solution for Dogs
Revolution Topical Solution protects from heartworms, fleas, and ear mites. It’s also effective at treating sarcoptic mange and American dog tick infestations. Revolution Topical Solution is put directly on your dog’s skin. This product contains 240mg Selamectin, Butylated Hydroxytoluene, and Isopropyl Alcohol.
Studies show that Selamectin achieves a heartworm prevention rate of 100%. In addition, Revolution can be administered at 10 times the recommended dose without adverse reactions. It’s also available in eight separate dose strengths.
Revolution is unsuitable for puppies younger than 6 weeks of age. In addition, its alcohol content makes it unsuitable for broken and damaged skin. As with all medicines, Revolution has some side effects. The most common side effects are vomiting, diarrhea, salivation, itching, and ataxia. There have also rarely been reports of seizures in dogs.
5. Advantage Multi Topical Solution for Dogs
Advantage Multi Topical Solution is a broad-spectrum medication. It treats not only circulating microfilariae in heartworm-infested dogs, but also fights against, fleas, sarcoptic mange, roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms. This product is also used to prevent heartworm infestations. Advantage Multi Topical Solution contains 400mg Imidacloprid and 100mg Moxidectin.
Advantage Multi is proven to be safe to use alongside many other treatments. Dogs receiving ACE inhibitors, anticonvulsants, corticosteroids, immunotherapeutics, and more are able to receive Advantage Multi treatment. Furthermore, studies show that swimming 60 minutes after dosing doesn’t affect the efficiency of heartworm protection.
It has not yet been established if the product is safe to use in puppies less than 7 weeks of age. It’s also not safe to allow dogs to ingest this product. For the first 30 minutes after use, owners must prevent their dogs from licking the application site.
6. Sentinel Flavor Tablets for Dogs
Sentinel Flavor Tabs protect against heartworms, roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and flea eggs. These flavored tablets are best for dogs over four weeks old. Sentinel Flavor Tabs contain 23mg Milbemycin Oxime and 460mg Lufenuron.
Most dogs love the beef taste of Sentinel Flavor Tabs. As well as this, Sentinel Flavor Tabs are safe for use alongside other products: vaccines, antibiotics, steroids, and flea collars are just a few safe products. Sentinel Flavor Tabs stand out in that they can be given to puppies four weeks and older. This means that protection from heartworms can begin as early as possible!
Sentinel Flavor Tabs may cause the following adverse reactions: vomiting, lethargy, itching, ataxia, hypersalivation, and convulsions. Although Sentinel Flavor Tabs effectively protect against heartworms, they appear to be less effective against fleas.
7. Iverhart Plus Chewable Tablets for Dogs
Iverhart Plus Chewable Tablets are pork liver flavor chewables that protect dogs from heartworms. They also control roundworms and hookworms. This product contains 272mcg Ivermectin and 227mg Pyrantel Pamoate.
Iverhart Plus Flavored Chewables are 25% cheaper than Heartgard. Unlike other chewable tablets, this tablet can be put intact into your dog’s food. Not only this, but the pork liver flavor makes it irresistible to even the pickiest dogs. Both active ingredients are effective for the prevention of heartworms in dogs.
As with other Ivermectin products, a small percentage of dogs experience adverse side effects. These reactions include vomiting, lethargy, itching, ataxia, hypersalivation, and convulsions.
8. Simparica Trio Chewable Tablets for Dogs
Simparica Trio is prescribed to protect dogs from heartworm disease. It also protects from fleas, ticks, hookworms, and roundworms. To achieve this protection, the product contains 12mg Sarolaner, 0.24mg Moxidectin, and 50mg Pyrantel. These chewable tablets are also liver-flavored!
Simparica Trio boasts a very broad spectrum of treatment. Not only does it protect against heartworm, but it also kills 5 types of ticks, kills fleas, treats roundworms, and treats hookworms. This makes it extremely convenient for veterinarians and pet owners.
Compared to other medications, Simparica Trio cannot be started as early. This product is only suitable for puppies who are 8 weeks of age. In addition, Simparica Trio appears to be less palatable than other heartworm preventatives. In one study, its palatability is cited at 77.7 – 79.9%.
9. Coraxis (moxidectin) Topical Solution for Dogs
Coraxis Topical Solution protects dogs from heartworms, roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms. It contains 100mg Moxidectin per dose.
Coraxis Topical Solution is suitable for puppies as young as 7 weeks old. This means that you can begin protecting your puppy early. In addition, the product comes in five dosages. Your vet can tailor your pet’s dose as needed. Studies of Moxidectin have shown that the drug is highly effective at preventing heartworm. One study suggests that it has a 98.8% efficacy rate.
As with other topical treatments, there are some risks involved. Ingestion of the product can cause adverse reactions. It’s also not appropriate to use this treatment for dogs with broken skin.
10. Sentinel Spectrum Chewable Tablets for Dogs
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Sentinel Spectrum Chewable Tablets protect dogs from heartworms, roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and flea eggs. These tablets are soft and beef-flavored. To protect against parasites, these tablets are formulated with 5.75mg Milbemycin Oxime, 115mg Lufenuron, and 57mg Praziquantel. This differs from Sentinel Flavor Tabs, which don’t contain Praziquantel.
97% of dogs willingly take these chews when offered. Being a tablet, there are no restrictions for your dog after taking it – they can swim and bathe after treatment. In addition, its broad spectrum of coverage makes it good value.
As with other tablets, there is always a risk of adverse reactions. Sentinel Spectrum Chewable Tablets are known to cause vomiting, depression, itching, and ataxia. In more severe cases, it is known to cause seizures and death.
Dog Heartworm Medicines – FAQ
Need to know anything else about dog heartworm medicine? Feel free to consult our Frequently Asked Questions section for more details. If in doubt, always consult with your vet if you’re concerned about your dog’s health.
All reputable heartworm medications require a prescription in the USA. It is illegal to obtain an FDA-approved heartworm medication without having a prescription. Your vet will require that your pet has an examination and negative blood test before prescribing your pet with a heartworm preventative. This is because heartworm preventatives will not kill pre-existing heartworms. Once your dog is heartworm-free, your vet will recommend the best medicine for your dog as well as the correct dose. Just be sure to keep your prescription up to date!
At the same time, it is still possible to get heartworm medications without a prescription. Many such products are available online. Some online pharmacies openly flaunt their ability to sell heartworm preventatives without a prescription. These cheaper heartworm medications are typically shipped over from Canada by exploiting cross-border regulatory gaps. The legality of this practice is unclear, and the likelihood that a harmful product might be administered to your pet is obviously increased.
While a heartworm infection is undoubtedly a frightening thing for you and your dog to experience, the good news is that it can be treated! It’s important to be aware that a heartworm infestation cannot be treated at home. Only a vet can administer the correct medication to your pet.
The best drug used to treat heartworm infections is melarsomine dihydrochloride. When administered, this drug kills mature and immature heartworms. The two approved protocols for this drug are the 2-dose and 3-dose. Most veterinarians opt to use the 3-dose treatment as it’s more efficient at killing all of the parasites. Before and after melarsomine treatment, some vets prescribe antibiotics and corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and lung injury associated with dying worms.
As a result of these treatments, some dogs experience coughing, labored breathing, lethargy, and fevers. It’s best to keep your pet in cage confinement to prevent these issues. If properly confined and cared for, most dogs recover from treatment complications within a day. However, all dogs should be confined throughout the course of their treatment and for 4 to 6 weeks after the final melarsomine dose.
The AAHA suggests that the average cost of preventative heartworm treatment is anywhere from $5 to $15 per month. The cost varies depending on the manufacturer and your individual veterinary practice.
In contrast, the cost of treating heartworm infection costs anywhere from $400 to over $1,000. The cost of your dog’s heartworm treatment depends on the size of your dog and the severity of the infection. Treatment costs include the price of the physical exam, heartworm test, antibiotics, pain relief, melarsomine injections, and any sedation that your dog needs.
Your dog needs heartworm preventative medication once every month. If you miss your pet’s monthly dose by a few days, vets recommend an immediate resumption of treatment. Most monthly heartworm medicines have a safety net of 15 days worth of protection if one dose is missed.
Unlike topical and oral medications that require monthly doses, the heartworm shot is administered twice a year. Proheart 6 is the only FDA-approved shot for heartworm and it offers six months of protection. To ensure that the dosing is as accurate as possible, only vets may administer Proheart 6.
Heartworm disease is deadly but preventable. Your dog needs heartworm preventatives every month, as prescribed by your veterinarian. The costs of prevention vary from $5 to $15 per month. If your dog contracts heartworm, treatment typically involves three doses of melarsomine dihydrochloride. As well as this, vets prescribe heartworm-infested dogs with antibiotics and corticosteroids.