Heartgard For Dogs: Parasite Buster
This article provides information about the anti-parasite medication Heartgard for dogs, including dosage recommendations, safety guidelines and more
Heartgard for dogs is an anti-parasite drug which works by causing neurological damage to the parasites, most commonly used in the treatment or prevention of heartworm. The main ingredient, ivermectin, carries various risks due to the fact that some dogs are susceptible to the drug passing through the blood brain barrier, resulting in potentially lethal sides. Ivermectin is also the key ingredient in several other popular branded products such as Ivomec and Stromectol. Always see a vet before using this drug as it can be very dangerous if used incorrectly.
Heartgard dosage for dogs
Please be sure to scroll down and read the side effects section before using ivermectin for dogs. The dosage differs depending on the type of infection. You should seek veterinary advice about the correct dosage of ivermectin to give to your dog. The following doses are standard. Note that these dosages are for the target amount of ivermectin which should be administered:
- 2.7 ug (micrograms) per pound for preventing heartworm
- 136 ug per pound for treating sarcoptic mange
- 181 ug per pound for treating demodectic mange
Liquid ivermectin is sold in different concentrations, which will affect the dosage. For example, regarding brand name Ivomec, the 1% solution is often given at 1/10 cc for every 10 lbs your dog weighs. Note that each brand may use different formulations and concentrations of drugs, so you should always read the packaging carefully and seek veterinary approval. Also keep in mind that the dosage may change day by day, for example, your vet may choose to begin on a low dose for a certain number of days before gradually increasing it. You will be provided detailed information on this process during the appointment.
Is Heartgard safe for dogs
Heartgard may cause severe reactions in pets genetically susceptible to the medication. There are certain breeds which are more likely to experience negative side effects such as:
- Old English Sheepdog
- English Sheepdog
- Australian Shepherd
- German Shepherd
- Silken Windhound
- Longhaired Whippet
- Skye Terrier
Please read on for more information regarding safety.
- Consider avoiding this medication if your dog is one of the breeds susceptible to negative ivermectin side effects (listed above)
- Test your dog for the MDR1 gene mutation before using doses above 2.7 micrograms per pound
- Always seek veterinary advice before use
- Monitor your dog extremely carefully for signs of adverse reactions
In heartworm dosage (6 ug per kg, AKA 2.7 ug per pound) a test for the MDR1 gene mutation may not be necessary. However, when treating mange, where high doses are needed, it’s highly recommended you have your dog tested to avoid potentially fatal side effects. Whilst your dog is on this medication, monitor him or her closely for tell-tale symptoms of negative side effects. Acute reactions will become apparent within 4 to 12 hours of ingestion, please read the side effects section for more details on what to look out for as emergency medical attention will be required.
Uses of Heartgard for dogs
Ivermectin is sometimes used to treat conditions such as:
- Parasite infections (in particular heartworm and mange)
Side effects of using Heartgard for dogs
Side effects of this drug include fatigue, depression, vomiting, drooling, pupil dilation, weight loss, loss of coordination/disorientation, tremors, seizures, coma, blindness, respiratory problems, slow/shallow heartbeat and an inability to stand.
Please note that serious symptoms that become apparent up to 12 hours after administering the drug are considered acute reactions for which you should seek emergency veterinary attention. With that said, because of the nature of Heartgard for dogs, even if side effects occur after this time you should err on the side of caution and seek medical attention for your pet though the reaction is not likely to be as life-threatening.