Posts Tagged ‘Iverhart Plus’

Which heartworm preventative is right for your pet?

     If you’ve ever skipped giving your pet its heartworm medicine because you figure last month’s dose will carry over, you could be making a deadly mistake.

     Pet owners might assume that the heartworm preventative medication stays in the pet’s body all month long, providing constant protection against parasites.  But that’s not how the medications work.

How does it work?
     When you give your pet its dose of heartworm preventative each month, it immediately goes to work killing off heartworms that have infected the body in the prior 30 days.  The medication then leaves the body, often 24-48 hours after dosing.  Your pet is then left “unprotected” for 30 days until you give the next dose.

     It is important to remember to give the medication on time, because worms that are allowed to grow past a certain stage will not be killed by the medication; instead they will continue on to maturity.  Have a look at this example:

April 4………..your pet receives its monthly heartworm preventative dose, which is designed to kill heartworm larvae acquired since the previous dose in March.

April 7………your pet is bitten by a mosquito and is infected with heartworms.

May 4………your pet is due for its monthly dose, but you have forgotten to give it; the larval infection is now 27 days old and is still in the range to be removed by the medication.

May 17……the larval infection is now 40 days old, but you haven’t remembered the dose yet.

June 4…..the larval infection is 58 days old; many have become juvenile worms and will outlive the heartworm dose that you remember to give today.  In another few weeks, the juvenile worms will enter the heart and lungs where they will mature and reproduce.

What if I keep giving the medicine?
     Eventually, the mature heartworms will produce babies (we call them “microfilariae.”)  Here’s where it gets tricky:  the monthly heartworm medicine also kills the microfilariae.  That might sound like a good thing, and in a way, it is:  without circulating microfilariae in the blood, your dog will not pose an infection risk to other pets (cats generally don’t exhibit this stage, so they do not pose a risk to other animals.) 

     Unfortunately, the absence of this stage of disease also produces false negative test results.  Because there are different ways to test for “baby” heartworms versus adult heartworms, it is crucial that you tell your vet if your pet has missed any heartworm doses, especially in the last six months or more.  With this information, the vet can choose the proper test to determine whether your pet has the disease.

Which heartworm preventative do you recommend?
     Our clinic carries several types of preventatives, depending on the needs of your pet.

     For cats, we carry only one brand:  Revolution
     For dogs, we carry HeartGard Plus, Iverhart, and Sentinel

Can I buy heartworm preventative over the counter?
     No.  In Virginia, heartworm preventatives are considered prescription drugs.  Your pet must have an exam and blood test by a veterinarian before starting this medication.  If you find heartworm medications sold at stores or online without a prescription – steer clear!  These can be imported fake medications.  The manufacturers of the legitimate brands will not honor their guarantees if the medications are not purchased from a veterinarian.

Questions?  Use the contact form on this blog or leave a note in the comment section.

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A single Tapeworm egg packet. Photo by Jennifer Miele.

Of  all the worm eggs we search for under a microscope, the elusive Tapeworm egg is the most difficult to detect.  Not because of its size, mind you – these things are huge compared to other worm eggs.  The problem is, there tend to be so darn few Tapeworm eggs, we rarely see them.  By contrast, a mild Roundworm or Hookworm infestation can result in a slide saturated with eggs.  You are more likely to see Tapeworm segments on your pet’s fur than we are to find eggs in a fecal sample.

In fact, the segments you see on your pet’s fur are called proglottids, and they function as egg sacs. As these pieces detach from the larger worm still inside your pet (yuck), they may start releasing their eggs, which then appear (microscopically speaking) in your pet’s stool. Because of this, you will often see the proglottids before the vet has a chance to check a stool sample and find the eggs.

     Recently, though, we got lucky.  A pet presented with an infestation of Tapeworms, which provided me the opportunity to photograph the egg packet shown above.  Below, you will see something even more rare.

Five Tapeworm eggs as viewed through a microscope. Photo by Jennifer Miele

Okay, I admit it’s pretty silly to get excited over something so gross.  In fact, I hope you’re not eating lunch or dinner as you read this.  After the worming we gave, these little guys won’t be eating lunch or dinner, either.  Meanwhile, we seldom see so many egg packets together in one frame, which is why I consider this slide “rare.”

     The fun didn’t end there, however.  Once the sample had time to float all eggs to the surface, we found a couple of these guys trying to sneak by:


Mystery slide. Photo by Jennifer Miele

What’s that?  A little hard to see, compared to the Tapeworm eggs?  This little dude is shown at the same magnification as his giant neighbors.  To make it easy on you, I’ll crop it and show you what we’re looking at.

Hookworm egg. Photo by Jennifer Miele

       It’s a Hookworm egg.  How adorable.  I found only a couple of these eggs on the slide.  All I can figure is that the Tapeworms had a head start and were beating up on the hapless Hookworms that showed up late to dinner.

     Imagine the Worm Wars taking place inside your pet.  Not a pretty picture, is it?  If your pet is not already on a monthly heartworm/intestinal worm preventative medication, now is the time to act.  Have your dog’s blood tested first; it should be free of heartworm disease before starting any of the preventatives.  Cats and dogs should have their stool tested for intestinal worms, as well.  Any adult worm infestations should be treated by the vet.

     Check out our favorite heartworm and intestinal worm preventative medications:

Revolution for Cats……….treats and prevents heartworms, roundworms, hookworms, fleas, ear mites

Iverhart Plus for Dogs……treats and prevents heartworms, roundworms, hookworms

Iverhart Max for Dogs……treats and prevents heartworms, roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms

HeartGard Plus for Dogs……treats and prevents heartworms, roundworms, hookworms

Sentinel for Dogs…….treats and prevents heartworms, roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, fleas

     Questions?  Call Jennifer at 583-2619.  Happy worming!


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