Preventative Canine Heartworm Disease Treatment With

Ivermectin is used to prevent canine heartworm disease. Like any medication, it is important to know the side effects, contraindications and proper dosages. Veterinarians treat parasitic worm infestations with Ivermectin.

Stages of Canine Heartworm Disease

Understanding the stages of heartworm disease requires you to understand heartworm symptoms.

The first level of heartworm disease is low risk. Heartworms do not appear in the chest x-rays. Blood tests come back normal and there are virtually no heartworm symptoms other than a cough and mild fatigue during exercise. Because test results are often positive, the disease is rarely diagnosed at this stage.

The second level of heartworm disease includes minor symptoms such as coughing and fatigue. X-rays show signs of heart disease. Dogs appear anemic and some proteins show up in urine tests.

The third stage of canine heartworm disease is serious and harder to treat. Heartworm symptoms include:

  • Pronounced cough
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Weight loss
  • Anemia
  • X-rays show vascular damage and adult heartworm larvae
  • High levels of protein in urine

The final stage of heartworm disease is very apparent. Heartworms are apparent in x-rays and ultrasounds. Dogs slip into shock. Veterinary surgeons may physically remove the worms through surgical incisions into the jugular vein to save the dog's life. Most dogs in this stage do not survive.

Preventative Heartworm Medicine for Dogs

In the earliest stages of heartworm, medications like Ivermectin (Heartgard®) are excellent options. Ivermectin doesn't kill adult heartworms, nor does it sterilize them. You also wouldn't want the adult worms dying at once. They would block arteries and cause cardiac arrest or aneurysms.

Eliminating Adult Heartworms

Adults worms remain alive and laying new eggs. However, Ivermectin heartworm preventative does kill larvae and microfilaria. Once the larvae are killed, your veterinarian can work on removing the adult heartworms from the dog's internal organs and veins. Some worms may be removed surgically, others will be killed off through injections of Immiticide.

The American Heartworm Society suggests treating your dog with monthly Ivermectin doses for three months before removing the adult worms. In high risk cases, your veterinarian may prefer to act swiftly.

Proper Dosage for Ivermectin

Dosages of Ivermectin are 0.0015 to 0.003 milligrams per pound of body weight. The dosage is given monthly. Ivermectin is the main medication in Heartgard chewables. Use the stickers regularly so that you know instantly if your dog has received his monthly medication.

Side Effects and Contraindications for Ivermectin Heartworm Medicine Ivermectin is safe to use in most dogs. Collies and collie mixes may have toxic reactions to large doses, so ask your veterinarian if he feels the medicine is worth the risk.

Typical drug reactions include disorientation, weakness and tremors. Usually this only occurs if too large a dosage was given. If you suspect your animal is having a reaction to the canine heartworm disease medication, contact your veterinarian.

Do not use Ivermectin on pets younger than six weeks.

Ivermectin heartworm medicine for dogs will eventually clear dogs of canine heartworm disease. Remember it takes time to get all of the adult worms out of your dog.