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Best Medications to Prevent Heartworm

Best Medications to Prevent Heartworm

For you a mosquito bite can cause itching and irritation, but for your pet one small bite from a mosquito infected with microfilariae could infect them with the serious and potentially fatal condition, heartworm. Luckily, protecting your pet from heartworm is easy and inexpensive. ...

Oral Heartworm Medications

The heartworm preventatives you are probably most familiar with are the once-a-month tablets or chewables. These products typically contain ivermectin or milbemycin as the active ingredient. Some will not only kill heartworm larvae, but will also eliminate internal parasites such as roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms.

The good thing about these types of heartworm medications is that they only need to be given once a month for prevention. However, you need to make sure your dog or cat chews the entire piece or tablet and doesn’t spit any of it out. Otherwise, the heartworm medication loses its effectiveness.

Topical (Spot-on) Heartworm Medications

Like oral heartworm preventatives, topical (or spot-on) medications need only be applied once a month — either to the back of the dog or cat's neck or between the shoulder blades on the skin. In addition to eliminating heartworm larvae, some spot-on medications help control infections with mites, fleas, hook, whipworms and roundworms, depending on the active ingredient used in the preventative.

Because some dogs and cats will rub themselves against the furniture, carpet or other people or animals in their attempts to remove the topical heartworm medication, you may need to watch or isolate your pet after applying the preventative. This will help prevent accidental toxicity.

Injectable Heartworm Medications

For sustained protection, there are injectable forms of heartworm preventatives for dogs. Injectable preventatives with the active ingredient moxidectin, for example, will protect your dog against heartworms as well as hookworms for up to six months with one injection. However, this form of heartworm preventive must be administered by a veterinarian, and only after intensive training in its proper use.

No matter which heartworm preventative you prefer to give your dog or cat, make sure you read the medication's label carefully and follow its instructions. Cats, for instance, are affected by heartworms differently than dogs, though the consequences can still be very serious when cats are infected by mosquitoes carrying heartworm larvae. Additionally, consult your veterinarian as he or she may help you choose which heartworm preventative is best for your pet.

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