If you’re a dog parent, you know that the risk of heartworm disease is very real. According to the Companion Animal Parasite Council, one out of every 100 tested dogs in the country had a heartworm infection in 2021.
The good news? Heartworm is very easily preventable with Heartgard, a preventative medication known to protect your precious pup from not just heartworm, but also parasites like hookworms and roundworms.
The US Food and Drug Administration states that heartworm protection should be administered year-round.
Let’s get into the many benefits of starting your pup on Heartgard.
What Is Heartgard for Dogs?
Heartgard is considered the first line of prevention for heartworm disease in dogs. Heartgard and Heartgard Plus come in the form of chewable tablets. Their doses must be given monthly throughout the year.
Almost every dog loves the taste of Heartgard since the chewable is made with beef, making it no different than an ordinary treat for your furry companion.
Even if you have a dog that mainly stays indoors, all pets require heartworm prevention. Remember, it only takes one bite from the parasite-carrying mosquito to transfer this deadly disease.
Ivermectin, the drug’s active ingredient, was initially discovered by scientists from the pharmaceutical company Merck around the 1930s. In 1987, the medicine began being marketed under the name Heartgard and is now sold by the German pharmaceutical Boehringer Ingelheim.
Why Do You Need Heartgard?
Heartworm disease can spread through a single mosquito bite that has worm larvae. These worms then make your pet their host and grow inside their major blood vessels. They can cause organ failure and even death.
The larvae tend to grow over 4 to 5 months, during which your dog might not show any symptoms. As the adults mature, they can grow up to a foot long. Around this time, the adults mate and their offspring start to grow in large numbers.
Heartworm symptoms can range from mild coughing, weight loss, and fatigue to severe organ failure and caval syndrome. The sad part is that once symptoms kick in, a lot of damage has already been done.
To effectively prevent the maturation and mating of heartworms in the dog, the larvae need to be killed. Heartgard provides monthly protection against heartworm disease by killing the larvae before symptoms set in.
Benefits of Heartgard
There are many benefits to using Heartgard:
Killing Heartworm Larvae
Heartgard and Heartgard Plus are designed to kill heartworm larvae before they mature and get into your dog’s blood vessels and other organs. This means that your pup receives protection even before any symptoms can kick in.
Prevention is always better than cure, and in this case, even more so. Even though heartworms can be surgically removed and treated, their effects can be long-lasting even after they’ve been eradicated.
Effective Drug Combination
Heartgard Plus contains ivermectin, a macrocyclic lactone antiparasitic drug as well as pyrantel, an anthelmintic (worm-killing) drug. Both work together to kill parasites and parasitic larvae in your dog.
Protection Against Other Parasites
Other parasites like hookworms and roundworms that pose a threat to your dog’s health are also effectively targeted and killed when the proper dose of Heartgard Plus is administered.
Convenience and Taste
All you need to do is feed your pup one Heartgard chewable tablet every month. That’s right — it’s that simple. Be sure to not miss this dose by setting an alarm on the same date each month and giving the tablet.
The product also comes with a fillable monthly tab on the back, where you can write the exact date of administration. This helps you keep track of when exactly you gave your pet their dose.
It doesn’t hurt that Heartgard is made with delicious beef, something your pup is going to appreciate and look forward to each month!
Just one dose every month for 12 months offers year-round protection from heartworm larvae. Heartgard chewables effectively kill any parasitic larvae.
Skipping a dose is not ideal, as it could result in your dog having an unprotected month from heartworm disease.
Heartgard For Dogs Dosage
The dosage will differ based on the weight and age of the dog. However, Heartgard for puppies under six weeks of age is not recommended as it isn’t safe. Once your pup has crossed the 6-week mark, visit your vet and ask them about getting started on heartworm preventatives.
Different doses can be administered, so be sure to check the packet for the correct weight-based dosage. Heartgard for small dogs differs from the ones given to bigger dogs. Get the one closest to your dog’s weight. There are doses for:
- Dogs weighing under 25 lbs
- Dogs weighing 26 - 50 lbs
- Dogs weighing 51 - 100 lbs
- Heartgard for dogs over 100 lbs are given a combination of tablets for protection
Heartgard for Dogs Side Effects
For the majority of dogs on Heartgard or Heartgard Plus, there have been no side effects. Even during clinical trials of the medication, only rarely were any adverse effects noted.
In case you notice any of these side effects within 24 hours of administering a dose, contact your vet’s clinic:
- Ataxia (wobbly or drunken gait)
- Dilated pupils
- Excessive drooling
- Loss of appetite
- Convulsions or seizures
Where Can I Get Heartgard?
Heartworm disease causes serious problems in our companions. It can even be fatal.
Heartworms can grow and multiply for months until there are hundreds of them inside a dog. A dog suffering from heartworms has a reduced quality of life and may even suffer from a shortened lifespan.
All of this is easily preventable by speaking to your vet about getting your furry friend on heartworm prevention medicine like Heartgard!