Best Heartworm Prevention for Dogs: Top 5 Dog Heartworm Treatments for 2018

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Dogs are, without a doubt, the most adorable creatures on our planet. They are super cute and they can light up your day with just a simple smile or a wag of their tail. That said, the least you can for your furry friends is to take proper care of them.

One of the hard truths that dog owners have to accept is that dogs can become hosts to a wide range of parasitic worms. Some of them don’t pose any significant threat but a majority of them are pretty dangerous and more so if they are left untreated. These include parasites like the notorious heartworm.

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If your pooch has been diagnosed with a heartworm infection, your vet may recommend a series of treatments. If the condition is severe, the entire treatment can go on for several months; hence, cost you a huge chunk of money. For dog owners, the most practical solution would, therefore, be prevention. This article highlights the best heartworm prevention for dogs.

Heartworm Infection in Dogs

What Is a Heartworm?

Before determining the right heartworm treatment or prevention, you should first learn a thing or two about this parasite. This way, you’ll be armed with all the information you need to prevent a reoccurrence of the parasite’s infestation on your dog. Essentially, dogs are said to have heartworm infections when they’re infected by a special type of parasite scientifically known as Dirofilariaimmitis. For a long time, heartworm infestations have been described as a silent killer. Why? Well, the reason for this is that heartwormsare only noticed or identified once the worm reaches the maturity stage, which is about five to six months after the initial infestation. This means that your dog won’t display any heartworm infection symptoms until it’s too late.

The heartworm is a type of nematode that is about a foot long. It lives in your pup’s blood vessels, particularly those connected to the heart. As a result, the disease often causes heart failure, lung infection, and other cardiovascular problems if it’s not treated in good time.

About Heartworm Infection

If you’ve never heard or learned about nematodes and heartworms, then you’re probably wondering how your pooch contracted this infection in the first place. There’s just one known and confirmed way that dogs contract heartworm disease and this is through an infected mosquito’s bite. If a mosquito draws blood from an animal that is already affected with heartworms, it can transmit offspring of Dirofilariaimmitis to other animals. And the worst bit is that these offspring only need a fortnight to reach the larval stage. If the same infected mosquito gets a chance to feed on the new victim, it will transfer the larvae to other pets.

The larvae then take six to seven months to attain full maturity. Heartworms usually develop to a length of one foot and they can thrive in your pet’s heart and lungs for more than five years. By this time, your dog will be infected with a ton of such adult worms.

What You Can Do to Prevent Heartworm

Regardless of the disease, prevention is always much better than having to shell out money for treatment. As stated earlier, a heartworm infection can result in grave complications requiring months-long treatment procedures and medication. So, rather than have your pooch undergo a painstaking process of drugs, you should always consider precautionary measures.

Your dog’s first line of defense should consist of prescribed oral pills. This can be given either on a monthly or semi-annual basis. Most preventive medications work by disrupting the larvae stage of theDirofilariaimmitis worm. This means that these nematodes never reach the full adult or breeding stages. Taking into account that the infection is transmitted via mosquito bites, using mosquito repellents on your dog is another thing you should consider. These repellents can help to diminish your dog’s risk to mosquito exposure. The main ways of preventing heartworm prevention can be summed up as follows:

  • Routine Veterinarian Checks – One way to prevent a heartworm is to schedule your dog for annual or monthly checkups. During these checkups, your dog will be tested for heartworm and other parasites. This way, you can identify a heartworm infection in time; thus, seek the most appropriate treatment option.
  • Preventive medication – There’s a wide range of preventive medication that you can give your dog not only to prevent heartworms but also repel mosquitoes. These medications can be administered either orally or topically. When administering these drugs and topical solutions, follow the recommendations given by your vet.
  • Keep your home mosquito free –This may be an indirect way of preventing heartworms but it also helps significantly. Mosquitoes like breeding in stagnant water, which can be found in empty containers left outside your home, flowerpots, and rain gutters. As such, you should eliminate such areas to discourage mosquito breeding.

How to Detect Heartworm

Many dog owners have no idea of what to look for in their pooches to establish that they’ve been infected by heartworms. Ideally, detecting a heartworm infection requires a lot more than observing your dog’s behavior and physical appearance. One sure-fire way of achieving this is going for visits to your local vet. The vet can conduct a blood test to determine whether your pet is infested by heartworms. These visits should be done on a regular basis. This way, you can identify the condition in its budding stage and prevent it from causing further complications. In the event that there’s no veterinary clinic or hospital close by, you’ll have to do a DIY blood test. Just buy a blood test kit, collect your dog’s blood sample and send it a certain laboratory for confirmation and interpretation.

Best Heartworm Prevention for Dogs

Iverhart Plus Chewable Tablets for Dogs

Iverhart Plus is one of the most recommended prevention treatments for dogs. It contains two key ingredients that help to combat parasites, namely ivermectin,and pyrantel. Ivermect in is the element that keeps canine heartworm disease at bay while pyrantel combats roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms.

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This medication should be given to dogs that are no less than 8 weeks. Ideally, your pooch should be at least 6 lbs. to qualify for this prescription. The tasty Iverhart tablets boast pork liver and artificial beef flavor, making them irresistible even for fussy dogs. In fact, your dog won’t even realize that he’s taking medication.

Iverhart Plus should be administered on a monthly basis allyear round. For consistency, give it to your dog on the same day every month. Since they’re tasty, the tablets can be given orally or mixed with a small amount of food. If your dog is reluctant, just place it at the back of his mouth. Monitor closely to ensure that he’s swallowed the whole dose.

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Heartgard Plus Chewable Tablets

Another heartworm prevention medicine that works very efficiently is the Heartgard Plus Chewable Tablets. When it comes to protecting your dog against infestations from heartworms, roundworms, and hookworms, this medication has him covered. The Heartgard Plus is very deadly to parasites but safe for pets.

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It provides protection from these parasites for a period of one month. Available in a delicious beef flavor, this medicine also contains ivermectin and pyrantel ingredients. Another plus of this medication is that it’s well-tolerated by most dog breeds. However, your pup ought to be tested for a heartworm infection before starting this preventive program. The reason for this is that Heartgard Plus is strictly a preventive drug so it should only be given to dogs that are not infected.

Like the Iverhart Plus, this one is also administered orally every month. If your dog weighs 25 lbs or less, give him 68 mcg of the medication once every month. For pups weighing 26 to 50 lbs.., the recommended dosage is 136 mcg and 272 mcg for ones weighing 51 to 100 lbs.

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Tri-Heart Plus Chewable Tablets

The Tri-heart Plus is another reputable brand when it comes to heartworm prevention. This drug works by getting rid of the tissue stage of the heartworm larvae (D.immitis). In fact, this medication provides protection for a period of up to 30 days.

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Heartworms aren’t the only parasites that this medication helps to prevent. It’s also good for controlling ascarids and hookworms. For the best results, pet owners should administer this drug orally and at monthly intervals. The minimum recommended dose is 6 mcg of ivermectin per kilogram (2.2 lbs.) and 5 mg of pyrantel per kilogram.

Tri-Heart Plus should only be given to pups that are 6 weeks or older. If your pooch weighs more than 100 lbs. be sure to check the appropriate combination. When administering the drug, ensure your dog takes the full dose. And, even after administration, you should observe him for a few minutes to ensure that part of it is not lost or rejected.

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Advantage MultiTopical Solution for Dogs

If your dog is hesitant to take the oral medicine, the Advantage Multi topical solution is a fantastic substitute. Although it’s more expensive than other preventive medications, this solution will keep heartworms and other pesky parasites at bay.

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Advantage Multi consists of 10% imidacloprid and 1% moxidectin both of which are effective at preventing circulating microfilariae in a heartworm-infected dog. This topical treatment is also effective against flea infestation and sarcoptic mange and parasites that affect your dog’s intestines such as roundworms and whipworms.

Unfortunately, this topical solution can cause some side effects such as diarrhea, lethargy, and vomiting. But most of these side effects only crop up if you administer an overdose to your pup. As such, you should always consult your vet to determine the perfect dosage, which will be based on your dog’s health status and body weight.

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Bayer K9 Advantix II Flea

Considering that mosquitoes are responsible for transmitting heartworm infection among pets, one of the precautionary measures you should take is to invest in a quality mosquito repellent. There’s no better repellent than the Bayer K9 Advantix II.

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This medication is designed to kill and repel mosquitoes and other parasites instantly upon contact. In fact, the Bayer K9 can kill these parasites in all their life stages. It’s available in a waterproof formula, which can be applied on puppies and dogs that are at least 7 weeks. This particular offering is ideal for dogs weighing between 20 and 55 pounds.

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How Are Heartworms Treated?

Drug Injections

The most common technique of eliminating a heartworm infection is by injecting a series of drugs into your pup’s bloodstream. This treatment should be done on a regular basis so as to monitor the intensity of the heartworm infection.

After the first injections, recovery can take anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks. During recovery, the infected dog continues to receive preventive injections, which help to reduce the reproduction of microfilaria and further formation of baby worms. Few infected dogs may also have to take some antibiotics and other medicines to combat heartworms.

After 6 months of your dog’s first treatment, you should go to your vet for additional diagnostic tests. This way, you can know whether your dog is totally out of the woods. If he still has heartworms, you may have to start the treatment all over again.

Surgical Treatment

Some heartworm infections are very severe. For such situations, a surgical treatment may be the best option.

Arsenic-based Medicine

Another treatment option for dogs infected with heartworms is giving them arsenic-based drugs. But, after administering this medication, monitor your dog closely to ensure he doesn’t experience any adverse effects. While some dogs experience side-effects, others don’t. Possible side-effects include inflammation and in severe instances, respiratory failure.

The Bottom Line

Spring is almost here, which translates to warmer weather and longer days. Sadly, this also means that there’ll be a ton of bugs waiting to infest your pooch. One of the deadliest parasites that you should watch out for is the heartworm, which is usually transmitted through mosquito bites. Treating a heartworm infection is not only expensive but it also takes a long time. Thankfully, there are a ton of ways to protect your pooch against heartworm infections including heartworm medication, which includes routine medical checkups, oral and topical preventive medications and eliminating mosquito-breeding areas in your home. If you are in doubt about your pet, visit your veterinarian today.

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