A Guide to Safely Using Ivermectin for Dogs

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pooch looking at bottle of ivermectin for dogs pills

Every pet parent should take their dog or cat’s parasite prevention routine very seriously. Giving your pet preventative medication regularly is easy. Getting rid of an infestation: Not so much. Enter Ivermectin for dogs!

As with all pharmaceuticals, it is important to know how to safely give your dog Ivermectin. Read on to learn more about this drug, and which dogs and cats should or shouldn’t take it!

Heartworm Medicine for Dogs that Contains Ivermectin

Parasite prevention and treatment products are in high demand, and this demand has resulted in a competitive industry!

Here are some of the more common products that contain Ivermectin for dogs:

  • Heartgard for Dogs
Heartgard Plus Chewable Tablets for Dogs
Your furry friend must have a current heartworm test result on file with your veterinarian in order to be prescribed heartworm medication. Please visit your veterinarian to have this test performed annually to protect your four-legged friend. Heartgard Plus is a heartworm preventative that kills heartworms and helps to control and treat hookworms for dogs 51 to 100 lbs. Given monthly, it comes in a chewable tablet that you can feed to your pal as a tasty, beef-flavored treat. Head back to the dog park, reassured that your dog is protected from nasty parasites.
Rated 5.00/5.00 by Certapet
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  • Sentinel for Dogs
Sentinel Flavor Tablets for Dogs
Your furry friend must have a current heartworm test result on file with your veterinarian in order to be prescribed heartworm medication. Please visit your veterinarian to have this test performed annually to protect your four-legged friend. Sentinel is a monthly oral preventive prescription that protects your pet against heartworms, adult roundworms, adult hookworms, whipworms and prevents the development of flea eggs. Best of all, this medication may also help protect your pal against heartworm disease and intestinal worms, all in a tasty, flavored tablet.
Rated 4.50/5.00 by Certapet
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  • Interceptor Heartworm Meds: Interceptor for Dogs
Interceptor Tablets for Dogs
Your furry friend must have a current heartworm test result on file with your veterinarian in order to be prescribed heartworm medication. Please visit your veterinarian to have this test performed annually to protect your four-legged friend. Interceptor Tablets are a monthly, broad-spectrum parasiticide prescribed by your vet to help prevent heartworm disease. Plus, it treats and controls adult roundworm, adult hookworm, adult whipworm and adult tapeworm. It comes in a tasty tablet form, so you can give it to your pet as a tasty treat, or add it to her food for a boost of flavor. This product is also available for dogs in a chewable tablet.
Rated 5.00/5.00 by Certapet
Buy on Chewy!
  • Tri-Heart Plus for Dogs
Tri-Heart Plus Chewable Tablets for Dogs
Your furry friend must have a current heartworm test result on file with your veterinarian in order to be prescribed heartworm medication. Please visit your veterinarian to have this test performed annually to protect your four-legged friend. Tri-Heart Plus is an easy-to-feed chewable tablet prescribed to help keep your dog free of heartworm and other dangerous parasites. When given monthly, this simple and palatable tablet helps to protect your pet by killing the larvae before they reach your dog's heart. Best of all, the tasty tablets can be fed just like a treat! Your pet won't even know you're working to protect their heart.
Rated 4.50/5.00 by Certapet
Buy on Chewy!

What is Ivermectin?

Ivermectin for dogs and cats is a commonly used parasite treatment or preventative. It is used to prevent or treat a variety of parasites in pets. It comes in the form of pills, a liquid, chewables, injections, or as a topical treatment.

This active ingredient works by paralyzing and killing heartworm (larvae) and other parasites. It is a good option for many pets because it kills external parasites such as Demodex mites and lice, as well as internal parasites like intestinal worms, lungworms or earworms.

Most importantly, Ivermectin is a powerful tool that can prevent and treat heartworms, which are not as easy to kill and get rid of as other parasites are.

It’s an Active Ingredient Found in Most Dog Heartworm Medication

This is an active ingredient found in most parasite medication for dogs and cats. Ivermectin for dogs is found in pet household names such as Heartgard, Revolution and more!

It works by passing through the blood-brain barrier of a parasite, and paralyzing and killing off the pesky pest!

Ivomec vs Ivermectin: What’s the Difference

Ivomec is the name of a dewormer brand that contains the active ingredient Ivermectin! It is a brand that is associated with larger animals such as livestock rather than cats and dogs!

young puppy getting liquid heartworm medicine for dogs

Why Heartworm Medication for Dogs is So Important

Once dogs get a heartworm infestation, it is incredibly difficult to get rid of. Dewormers are effective in killing off the larvae and juvenile worms in pets, but not the adult heartworms. So technically, Ivermectin doesn’t treat heartworm disease, rather, it can prevent heartworm larvae from reaching maturity.

Adult heartworms have a long lifespan and can stay in your dog’s heart for years. It’s important to know this because although you cannot easily kill the adult heartworms, medications like Ivermectin for dogs can keep killing off the larvae until the adult worms die!

This is why your dog needs regular and routine treatment if they have tested positive for heartworms!

This Dog Heartworm Medicine Isn’t Safe for All Dogs!

Right, this is very, very important: Ivermectin is not equally safe for all dogs. There are certain breeds that are more prone to react negatively to Ivermectin than others. Ivermectin toxicity is not uncommon in herding breeds such as Collies, Australian Shepherds, and other Sheepdog breeds.

These dog breeds have a specific genetic mutation (MDR1) which causes an adverse reaction to the drug. This heartworm medication is also not safe for puppies under 6 weeks old!

The Safe Ivermectin Dosage for Dogs

You need to follow your vet’s instructions to a T when it comes to giving your dog any medication containing Ivermectin! If your dog gets a dose that is too high, it can be extremely dangerous for them!

The Ivermectin dosage for dogs is generally calculated by how much your dog weighs. Your vet will prescribe a heartworm product that contains a safe dosage for dogs within a certain weight bracket. There are, for example, products for dogs that weigh between 0 lbs and 25 lbs, and the next one will be for dogs that weigh in at between 26 lbs and 50 lbs.

vet giving dog heartworm medication

When to Give Your Dog This Dog Worm Medicine

A lot of dogs show negative side effects when they take these meds on an empty stomach. Be sure to give Fido some treats when they take their meds. Otherwise, give it to him after his meal!

Is This a Safe Puppy Dewormer?

Although there are products containing Ivermectin for dogs of all weights, it is not safe to give this heartworm medication to puppies under the age of 6 weeks! This makes sense considering how much puppies can grow in a short period of time. They can easily outgrow the weight bracket of the product you gave them within a month!

5 Potential Ivermectin Side Effects

Here are some of the most common side effects Fido may show if they have an adverse reaction to their heartworm medications:

  • Nausea
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Incoordination
  • Lack of appetite
  • Seizures

Look Out for Signs of a Dog Dewormer Overdose

An Ivermectin overdose (or any overdose for that matter) is not to be taken lightly! If your dog or cat shows severe symptoms or side effects, take them to a vet as soon as possible! Apart from the symptoms we mentioned above, look out for excessive salivating, droopy eyes and hives!

Are All Heartworm Meds for Dogs OTC?

Considering all of the safety concerns regarding giving a dog a product that contains Ivermectin, it is hardly surprising that you need a prescription from your vet for most heartworm preventatives. Even if you were to come across a medication that is OTC, it’s still best to get the OK from your vet before giving it to them. Don’t listen to Dr. Google!

fluffy dog getting chewable heartgard for dogs

Make Sure You Get Those Heartworm Meds Regularly!

Ivermectin treatment is so important for your furry friend (or friends). As pet parents, it’s our job to do whatever we can to keep our furkids healthy! Tick, flea and worm prevention or treatment is one way to do just that!

Common Questions on Ivermectin for Dogs

Does this parasite control prevent tapeworms and ear mites too?

Is Ivermectin for dogs effective for gastrointestinal parasites? 

Is Ivermectin safe for puppies?

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