Dog Heartworm Preventatives

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Dog Heartworm Preventatives

Dog heartworm preventatives are medications (mostly oral – some topical) usually given once monthly and are labeled to prevent heartworms in dogs. As heartworm preventatives have evolved additional medications have been added to aid in the control of fleas, ticks and intestinal parasites. This has been great for most pets.
Pet owners are finally able to control fleas in their pet’s environment, Yeah!. Pets love it… no more fleas biting them 24 hours a day.
Ticks are not controlled as well however, if you need tick control, other medications are available that can be combined with dog heartworm preventative for added tick protection.
Intestinal parasites (hook worms, round worms, tape worms, whip worms etc.) can be controlled by selecting the heartworm preventative with the additional medications specific for those parasites.

Below is a compilation of the most common dog heartworm preventatives. You will notice that many of the heartworm preventatives have common heartworm preventative medications (active ingredients). So the question is… which one is the-right-one-for-your-dog?

Dog Heartworm Preventatives – Common Names

  • Advantage MultiImidacloprid, Moxidectin
  • Heartgard (not plus)Ivermectin
  • Heartgard PlusIvermectin, Pyrantel Pomoate
  • Interceptor (not plus)Milbemycin oxime
  • Interceptor PlusMilbemycin oxime, Praziquantel
  • Iverhart MaxIvermectin, Pyrantel Pamoate, Praziquantel
  • RevolutionSelamectin
  • SentinelMilbemycin oxime, Lufenuron
  • Sentinel SpectrumMilbemycin oxime, Lufenuron, Praziquantel
  • TrifexisMilbemycin oxime, Spinosad
  • TriHeartIvermectin, Pyrantel

The heartworm preventatives are listed below by active heartworm preventative medication.

Dog Heartworm Preventatives – Active Medications

  • Imidacloprid
    • Advantage Multi
  • Ivermectin
    • Heartgard (not plus)
    • Heartgard Plus
    • Iverhart Max
    • TriHeart
  • Milbemycin oxime
    • Interceptor (not plus)
    • Interceptor
    • Sentinel
    • Sentinel Spectrum
    • Trifexis
  • Selamectin
    • Revolution

In addition to the actual heartworm preventative medication many of the products have medications to prevent (or kill) fleas, ticks and intestinal parasites in your dog. Since many of the dog heartworm preventatives contain similar heartworm preventative medications the decision regarding “which one to use” may depend more upon the heartworm preventative’s other parasite control spectrum.
Most of the ‘additive’ parasite control medications will kill common Hookworms and Roundworms. Some of the medications will kill Whipworms and others will kill Tapeworms. This added level of parasite protection may seem like over-kill until you realize that some of these parasites can be passed along to you and your children.

Zoonoses… And Your Family dog

Zoonosesa disease that can be transmitted to humans from animals.

Below are examples of common intestinal parasites that can be controlled with dog heartworm preventatives.

  • Hookworms – Ancylostoma caninum – is a zoonotic parasite
    • Hookworms attach to the small intestine of your dog and suck blood. This can lead to anemia and even death
  • Roundworms – Toxocara canis – is a zoonotic parasite
    • Roundworms are among the most common intestinal parasites of dogs. They can infect over 90% of puppies under 3 months of age. Dogs infected with roundworms may experience constipation, vomiting, diarrhea or may have a pot-bellied appearance
  • Tapeworms – Diplidium caninum – is a zoonotic parasite
    • Dipylidium is tapeworm of Dogs and Cats. People become infected when they accidentally swallow a flea infected with tapeworm larvae; most reported cases involve children
  • Whipworms – Trichuris vulpis – not considered a zoonotic parasite at this time
    • Dogs can become infected with these dangerous parasites by ingesting whipworm eggs from a contaminated environment. Whipworms eggs remain viable for up to 7 years in places like your yard, dog parks, dog beaches, and other pet-friendly areas. Many whipworm infections are asymptomatic, but can result in bloody diarrhea, weight loss, dehydration and in severe cases, death.

Why is this important…? it is important because of the close interactivity between humans and their pets, please review the following.


Pet-Human Interactions

  • In the United States, >60% of households have pets
  • Among dog owners, 53% consider their dog to be a member of the family
  • A surprising 56% of dog owners sleep with their dog next to them; ≈50% of dogs sleep on the bed
  • Among cats, 62% slept with their adult owners and another 13% slept with children

Why is it Important?

  • Dog Fleas & Dog Ticks Transmit Disease by biting Children and Adults.
  • Dog Worms can infect Children, Adults and other Pets.
  • Although Rare, Dog Heartworms have been found in people (transmitted by infected mosquitoes).
  • Therefore, Fleas, Ticks, Worms and Heartworms must be controlled in pets that closely associate with Children, Adults or other Pets.

Heartworm preventatives can aid in the management of these potentially dangerous zoonotic diseases. They are easy to use and are conveniently given just 12 times each year.
At your pet’s annual examination and heartworm testing DAMC veterinarians will help you choose the best dog heartworm preventatives available for your individual pet’s lifestyle.

Dog Heartworm Preventatives & Heartworm Testing

Heartworm disease is endemic in Florida and annual heartworm testing is required to purchase heartworm preventatives. (Dog heartworm preventatives are FDA licensed medications and require a prescription). Heartworm testing is usually accomplished at your pets’ annual examination along with any vaccinations that may be needed.