Heartworm disease is no joke, which is why it’s so important to prevent your dog from ever getting it in the first place.
Luckily, there are a ton of medications out there that will effectively protect your pup from getting the disease.
We spoke with Dr. Cristina Bustamante, an associate veterinarian with Caring Hands Animal Hospital in Florida and founder of Dr. B. Vet, who told us how to find the best heartworm medicine for dogs. Here are our top picks:
Do dogs need heartworm medicine?
Heartworm medicine is something that every dog needs. Treating this deadly disease is possible, but it’s an incredibly time-consuming, expensive process that includes a few rounds of painful injections. The good news is that heartworm disease is easily preventable thanks to the medicine that’s available.
“Heartworm prevention kills the parasite in the larval stage, which is the equivalent of a heartworm ‘baby’ stage,” Dr. Bustamante told The Dodo.
But it’s crucial that you remember to give your dog his medicine regularly to keep him protected at all times.
“It is important that your pet receives the prevention in the frequency instructed by your veterinarian since if you do not do so, the heartworm can grow to the ‘adult’ stage, and then the prevention will not be effective,” Dr. Bustamante said.
How to pick the best heartworm medicine for dogs
Picking the best heartworm medicine for your dog is going to depend on your dog’s health, lifestyle and age.
“Dogs with very sensitive stomachs might benefit from topical or injected prevention compared to oral medication,” Dr. Bustamante said. “Dogs who are very active and live in areas where there are many fleas and ticks will benefit from a product that also protects them against fleas or ticks. Dogs with forgetful owners will benefit from injections every 6 to 12 months.”
Breed type can also affect the type of medication you should use. Collies, for example, can develop complications from ivermectin, which is one type of active ingredient that prevents heartworm. So if you have a collie, you’re going to want to pick a medicine that doesn’t contain ivermectin.
There are plenty of oral and topical options available to purchase yourself (with a prescription from your vet). But if you opt for the preventative injections, you’ll need to bring your pup in for a vet visit.
Can dogs have adverse reactions to heartworm medicine?
Like with any medication, there’s a chance your dog can have an adverse reaction to his heartworm medication. According to Dr. Bustamante, adverse reactions can include things like:
- Allergic reactions
- Upset stomach
- Changes in appetite or energy levels
“Usually adverse reactions occur within the first 24 hours,” Dr. Bustamante said. “Depending on the reaction, your veterinarian can recommend changing the way of administration.”
Best heartworm medicines for dogs
We rounded up some of the best heartworm medicines for dogs based on expert guidelines and reviews from pet parents.
While heartworm disease is super dangerous, it’s also totally avoidable thanks to heartworm medicine for dogs.
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