Easy Heartworm Prevention for Dogs!
Buying your heartworm meds and flea prevention online can save you big bucks vs. buying it from your veterinarian's office. There are a few caveats though - so please ready carefully and use some common sense too!
When I send my poodle puppies home with their new owners, I always discuss their health records, what I have done for the puppy already in regards to puppy shots and types of deworming, and when the pup needs it next shot, getting started on heartworm prevention [if I haven't started it yet due to being too young], when to go to the vet for the rabies shot, etc etc.
Read here to learn more about the Suggested Health Schedule for your pup.
What are Heartworms and how does my puppy get them?
One good source for more detailed info is the American Heartworm Society.
Here in the south of the USA we recommend heartworm prevention all year round, as we can have skeeters in December or January. In the northern states you may only need heartworm prevention for your dog late spring through late fall, as it is too cold for the rest of the year for mosquitoes to live and bite. However when you stop the preventative treatment during the colder months of the year, there may still be baby heartworms [microfilariae] in the blood stream that may not yet be killed - and those can continue to grow and mature during the "off" phase of your annual cycle. I would suggest if you are thinking about doing a partial treatment during the summer months only - to do more research and also to discuss this with your vet too, before making this decision.
Adult dogs must be heartworm free before getting on heartworm prevention, as killing off adult heartworms in large quantity can clog arteries and heart with dead worms, killing the dog in return. Advanced heartworm infestations will cause considerable damage to the heart and lungs - and must be treated by a veterinarian if you want to give your dog a chance to survive treatment. So unless your adult dog has been on heartworm prevention all of its life - or has been tested and is clear - it should be tested first.
At Home Heartworm Tests
So be sure to read labels, directions, feedback and compare!
A Caveat - Heartworm & Flea Prevention is a Big $$$ Industry...
On the same note - and for fairness reasons - the suggestions for the Amazon products on this page - fall into the same category. I get a small commission percentage of the sales that originate through my website - this is coming out of the profit of the sellers sites - not in addition to your purchase price. The bottom line for you is the same whether you access their site through my website or through independent search. The difference for me? These small commissions help me to pay for the annual upkeep and hosting fees for this website that brings you these free information & care guides. It also allows me to purchase new products for product reviews, have my dogs and pups test them for durability and soundness, and allows me to spend time for research and keeping you updated on getting the products you need to keep your pups healthy for the least amount of money.
I greatly appreciate your support! Thank you so very much, Sabine :o)
Does my Pup need to use Heartworm Protection?
While adult heartworms are treatable and the treatments have come a long way from what they were 25+ years ago when I got my first dogs here in the US, they are still dangerous for the dog and sometimes dogs still die in treatment.
Plus they are expensive and take a long time and they are by necessity very restrictive for the dog, often require temporary stays at the vet for a few days and consequently are restrictive for your live during the active treatment phases too.
You are so much better off getting started with it while your pup is young, and budgeting for it and sticking to it for the duration of your dogs life.
At what Age should I start my Puppy on Heartworm Prevention?
If your pup is older than 5 months of age - you should get it tested for heartworms by your vet before starting a preventative program.
Puppies that are younger than 5 [6 months pushing it] before getting started with heartworm prevention can be safely started without being tested in most cases, as the microfiliare have not had the chance to become mature and reproducing heartworms, and therefor can still be killed by using a heartworm preventative. Adult heartworms need considerably stronger [more poisonous] treatment to get killed off - so preferably get your puppy started around 3-4 months of age to get a headstart. In some locations depending on the season, weather and when your puppy was born - this could be later than that.
Please note: A vet that insists on a heartworm test prior to a pup being 5 months of age, is either sorely uninformed about the heartworm life cycle, or more likely - trying to fleece you for unneccessary expenses.
Which Product should I use? There are sooo many of them...
To confuse things even more - many heartworm preventatives are also broad spectrum dewormers [a good thing!], but not all are the same and get all of the worms. In addition to that, some of them also include flea prevention - also a good thing, but not necessarily for a puppy. Read on while I explain and break it down for the different age groups.
As I am updating this page today - I could not find a single item other than straight ivomec listed on Amazon any longer and only one listing for Iverhard on Ebay. Big pharma succeeding in making sidestepping the vets more difficult???
Other Uses for Ivomec:
Read the Exceptions of Use at the bottom of the page!
Ivomec for Heartworms [or generic]
1cc [= 1ml ] per 100# of weight. Yes you read this correctly!
Or .1 cc [one 10th of a cc per 10# of body weight. Use a diabetic type 1cc syringe. Weigh your dog to be correct. Give once every 30-45 days year round, in order to avoid getting infected during the off season by a single stray skeeter. Ivomec is a good all around dewormer, the only thing it doesn't get is tapeworms and whipworms. It can kill whipworms, but must be given in higher doses for that, and there are other wormers that do so at lower doses instead.
Young Puppies - under 6 Months of Age
Here is why I think that using a double or triple combination product is overkill for very young or small sized toy puppies - even if the manufacturer or vet suggests it is safe [be sure to read the labels of any preventative products you plan on using]. Every dewormer, any type of parasite prevention, any type of flea + tick product is some type or other of poison. In a small dose it is acceptable and usually not harmful to dogs [or cats] = but in combination due to very small body size + immature systems and using several different products all rolled into one package at the same time - it can be debilitating for younger or very small dogs [teacups + toys] of any age or breed.
Until your pup reaches the 6-8 month age group - I recommend using separate products - and only use them as needed. Start with Heartguard Chewables - either in the size appropriate for your puppy or pick the smallest size there is and cut each chewable into half according to the size of your puppy. Give one half now and give the second half next month.
Same thing for on the shoulder flea products. Needless to say - don't use Hartz, Sergeants or other "not working" and "highly-dangerous-over-the-counter-in-the-grocery-store" flea products. If you were thinking about doing this, please google and do some research about this first!!! Buy/order a good quality flea product that is proven to be safe - and use it as needed on a young pup. Again if the size of the product coverage and the actual size of your furbaby don't mesh well - use 1/3 or 1/2 of a dosage instead of the full product. For better measurements - use a syringe that you use only for this [don't reuse for medications or liquid wormers!] and suck up the flea preventative and apply the correct amount to the pups' shoulders and save the remainder for the next month.
Splitting the initial doses of heartworm prevention and flea products, will not only stretch your doggy budget during the first few months while your puppy is tiny, it is also safer for your very young pup. If your puppy is very small size wise - try not to do everything on the same day as well - give a week or two between the different applications. It's a tad more work than using a single pill - but your pups' wellbeing and development rides on that.
Young Adults and Teenage Dogs
If you own a teacup or toy dog of any breed or any age - I would continue to stick with separate applications as suggested above under the young puppy section.
Here you are in the between stages between being a puppy and a young adult, and I would use common sense and your own observations to decide if your pup is ready to go onto a combination pill or treatment routine. If you were comfortable with the split routine and you still have some products left over - by all means use them up and continue to do so. Also shop price and selection and do some google and yahoo reseach on new products that may have made an appearance on the market to see if they would work for you and your budget. If you are ready to move on to one single monthly pill - and you think your pup is ready for it, go ahead and do so.
Again - for a pup or dog that is under 10# weight and where the smallest dosage combination pill is well over the weight of your pup, I would probably hold off until s/he is a year or so before going to a one-time product.
Mature Adult Dogs - 15 months or older
If you have a very old dog with old age health issues or age related organ failures or difficulties, be sure to discuss the use of one-time preventatives with your vet first. A lot of the combo meds are very hard on the liver and other organs.
If your dog is a teacup, tiny or toy size breed and weighs less than 10# [especially if it weighs less than 5#!!!] - I probably would continue to use separate heartworm and flea prevention products, as the package sizing may not be appropriate in consideration to your dogs weight. We all know that one size simply does not fit all!!! Especially for teacups and tinies - there is simply not enough dog to go around to deal with combination poisons and you may well be better off to use individual products that have been resized a week or two apart.
READ + Follow the directions on the labels, let the dog rest for a few hours afterwards [try giving at night if the dog gets nauseated or has been known to vomit the pill up] and do your product research before you buy.
Read This!!! Exceptions: Certain Herding Dog Breeds
If you own a collie breed or hybrid dog - do more reseach and definitely discuss heartworm prevention with your
breeder and vet as well.