Neuse River Golden Retiever Rescue
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Neuse River Golden Retiever Rescue

Holy Heartworm Meds Batman!

by User Not Found | Mar 07, 2013

Just because there isn’t a cute little slogan doesn’t mean you should forget about Heartworm.  Last year’s campaign for Think 12 in 2012 should have made you a creature of habit and now you’ll remember to Think 12 this year too.  I’ve moved my dogs to the 5th of the month, I’m ridiculously obsessed with calendars and task lists and it’s written on every one of them, at work and at home.  I have a nagging little app on my phone that reminds me to give their heartworm pill on the 5th of every month.  I can ignore it all I want, but it won’t go away until I check it as “completed” and I don’t do that until I have handed it to them.  That’s how important heartworm prevention should be to every dog owner.  Period.  In case you have forgotten, heartworm is one of my kicks.  You can read all about my detest of these horrible creatures from my previous posts.  But today I want to talk about options.  I get a lot of questions about what prevention is the best to use and with more and more options available, it teeters in to the overwhelming zone.  So I’ve broken it down simply in a cute little chart.

Medication

Maker

Active Ingredients

Heart-worms

Round-

worms

Hook-

worms

Tape-

worms

Whip-

worms

Fleas

Ticks

Cost/pill

Heartgard Plus

Merial

Ivermectin/pyrantel

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

No

$6.25

Iverhart Max

Virbac

Ivermectin/pyrantel/prazi

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

$4.69

Interceptor

Novartis

milbemycin oxime

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

No

No

$6.65

Sentinel

Novartis

milbemycin oxime/lufenuron

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

No

$11.66

Comfortis

Elanco

spinosad

No

No

No

No

No

Yes

No

$16.17

Trifexis

Elanco

spinosad/milbemycin oxime

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

No

$16.60

Here are some quick peeks in to some of the most popular heartworm medications available.  Note that Comfortis does not cover heartworms or other intestinal parasites, but really kicks some flea butt.  More importantly, notice that none of these cover ticks, so that means you still need to make sure to apply something that will keep ticks off your dog.  Obviously we’re all looking at the cost column.  Keep in mind that a tick product will cost an additional $10-$12 bucks, but even if you get Heartgard and tick medication, like Frontline, or Advantix, it is still cheaper than Trifexis and will cover you for ticks.  Confused yet?  Let me explain my logic.  I live in the middle of a flea hostel.  Wildlife, traveling flea circuses and every flea and their mom somehow find their way to this part of North Carolina.  I also do a lot of hiking so ticks are a problem too.  Sentinel and Advantix were my go-to.  My first apartment had a high population of feral cats running around (I lived near the woods) and with those cats came the fleas.  The first time I found a flea on my dog, naturally I freaked out and did what any person with my “extensive medical and veterinary background” would do, I called my mom….in Ohio.  There are fleas, on my dogs!!!  Um yeah Kate, you live in the south.  My mom calmly explained what I had obviously missed as a child, our dogs had fleas and ticks on occasion.  The Air Force took my family to glorious places like Mississippi and Alabama. =)  In those days we were still using flea collars and powder, but we’re much more sophisticated now.  None-the-less I had taken putting on topical medication and giving my dogs once a month heartworm prevention for granted.  Keep that in mind as things rev up this spring…just because you put on topical medication doesn’t mean you should stop checking your dog for these little critters.  The fleas were dying or dead and I never got them in my apartment, so obviously the Advantix was doing its job, but I did switch to Iverhart Max, not only to save money but to cover my dogs for tapeworms.  Fleas carry tapeworm eggs and my dogs are more exposed to fleas than say something like whipworms, so I made the change. 

I also like the ability to give heartworm medication separately from putting on topical medications like Advantix.  You don’t have that luxury with medications like Trifexis, so keep in mind that your dog may not be able to tolerate it.  I would leave you with a few words of caution.

  1.  The new topical products that have recently hit the market, “multi”, that claim to treat heartworm, fleas, ticks, etc with a topical medication have been discontinued at a number of vets.  Some dogs have been testing positive for heartworm while on these topical heartworm medications.
  2. Proheart 6—Recently a foster asked me about this medication, here’s the latest.  Proheart 6 is an injectable 6 month heartworm prevention that came out on the market in a frenzy in early 2003 or so.  It was shortly pulled from the market (recommended by the FDA) because it was killing dogs.  Seriously.  The actual heartworm killing medication was not harming dogs, but the delivery system and the way it was being administered.  In 2008 Proheart 6 made a come-back, claiming the formulation had changed, however because so many vets had bad experiences with it, they were reluctant to use it.  For those that are using it, they MUST be certified by the manufacturer on how to administer the injection.  This means that they have to attend a course.  The other thing that is a bit concerning is that owners must sign a consent form for their dog to receive it.  I don’t know about you, but that’s a bit unnerving to me.  I think I’ll be waiting a few more years until there’s some more research on this “new formulation”.  

Armed with this information, I think you can walk in to a vet office and have a more productive conversation with your vet about what is right for your dog.  Make sure they answer all your questions and don't just pawn off a medication that they happen to have on the shelf.  Remember, only YOU can prevent heartworm disease.

Happy Heartworm Free 2013!

Katie


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