How to Buy Cheap Heartworm Preventatives Without a Prescription
Can you buy heartworm prevention for your dog for less than 10 dollars a year? Sure you can.
Heartworm preventative is a big expense for everyone that keeps dogs. It should be readily available to everyone, no matter what their income, since it is a terrible disease-worse than many others because it is so easy to prevent.
Why is Heartworm Preventative So Expensive?
The big drug companies that sell heartworm preventative make a healthy profit off of their products and are not about to help owners find a cheaper option. I do not have stocks in these companies, do not market their products, and do not mind if you find an alternative. What I care about is seeing that all dogs are healthy, and I would like to give you this alternative that I use.
What is the alternative? You can prevent heartworm disease by using the same medication that is sold by the drug companies, for a fraction of the price. If you have a large dog you can order the from Amazon.com. (I have large dogs so this is the form of ivermectin that I give them to prevent heartworm disease.) The cost of a 50cc bottle is about equal to a 6 month box of heartworm preventative (or much less, depending on where you are buying your preventative). When the generic ivermectin arrives, it should be kept in the refrigerator. The expiration date is about 3 years. generic ivermectin
The Ivermectin Dose
Quite a few of the doses listed for generic ivermectin on the internet are absurd and the label on the most common heartworm preventative is only 0.006 mg/kg. Since ivermectin is sold at 1%, or 10mg/cc, a 20 kg dog needs less than 0.05cc. Even when you are giving the dose to a big dog, the ivermectin dose is so low that it needs to be drawn up with an insulin (diabetes) syringe.
The only insulin syringes I can find online with a needle are for sale only as a full box, and you do not need to buy 100, really you only need 1. There are larger syringes for sale with needles but you cannot use a large syringe to dose a dog. I would recommend you try to buy a single insulin syringe with a needle from a local pharmacy. It would be cheaper and more accurate. Since the insulin syringe does not need to be sterile so you can reuse it. I keep mine in the refrigerator next to my ivermectin but I do not have children at my house so do not need to worry about the syringe in the refrigerator. If you need to be concerned please keep it out of reach of children.
Can I Use the Syringe Every Month?
There might be some concern out there about reusing the needle and drawing up a small amount every month. The medication should be kept refrigerated to reduce bacterial growth, and most importantly: the ivermectin is only to be given orally.
Dogs have a lot of healthy bacteria population flourishing in their gut and a small dose on a dog biscuit is not going to affect them. If you needed to give this medication on top of a dead and rotting squirrel each month I would be concerned about GI upset; a drop on a little biscuit does not worry me.
What About a Small Dog?
If you have a small dog the ivermectin available for cattle is much too concentrated. There are several options to make it more dilute. You can make up a 30:1 dilution using propylene glycol. At this dilution rate 0.1cc contains only 333 micrograms of ivermectin so it is easy to dose a small dog at 0.1 cc per ten pounds. The site recommends mixing 0.1 cc of ivermectin 1% with 3 cc of propylene glycol.
The only problem with that is buying the propylene glycol, keeping an extra 3 cc syringe around for dilution purposes, and having another container to keep the dilute ivermectin in.
The other option is to use the . It is the same product I use for my large dogs and an 8-ounce bottle is enough to treat a one-hundred-pound dog hundreds of times; if you have smaller volumes available, or want to divide up a bottle with your neighbor, it will not be any more expensive than the product marketed for cattle. There is a two-year expiration date, so even if you had to buy a bottle by yourself it would only cost about $15 per year. 0.08% ivermectin drench for sheep
Dogs only need about 3.5 micrograms per pound to safely prevent heartworm disease, according to the makers of Heartgard, but due to some recent research done at Auburn, I am including the dose for about 7 micrograms per pound. Since one milliliter of the sheep product contains 800 micrograms, you only need to give:
Dose of sheep drench ivermectin
Weight of the Dog
Number of Micrograms
up to 12 pounds
Do I Have to be Very Careful With the Dose?
Since you are using such a small amount of this drug you could even double the dose and still only use a tiny amount. There is a comment in the advertisement about this cattle ivermectin being dangerous for dogs. If it is given as an overdose it will be dangerous. Ivermectin is used at a much higher dose when treating demodectic mange (0.3-0.6 mg/kg) and for a long time, an average of 3-8 months. It is quite safe even at those levels.
It would be more economical to treat the larger dogs with the cattle ivermectin but if you have small and large dogs the sheep product is easier to use. You can decide which product is right for you.
When the correct ivermectin dose is drawn up, you can put it on a dog biscuit or other dry food that your dog likes to eat. The volume of medication is very small but be sure to put it on a treat (something stinky!) where she will not notice the smell.
Can Ivermectin Cause Problems in Some Dogs?
Owners of Collies, Shelties, OES, Aussies, and some other mixed breed dogs might be sensitive to ivermectin. If your vet has been reluctant to prescribe heartgard to your dog, and you are concerned in any way, you can test for the mutation on the MDR1 gene that causes sensitivity. Testing is available though the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine.
Of course, these dogs can be given heartworm preventatives that do not utilize ivermectin (Revolution (selamectin) and Advantage multi (moxidectin) are both topical so treat fleas as well as preventing heartworm disease). Both of these medications are fairly new and will need to be purchased from your veterinarian.
Is Heartgard Plus Better Than Ivermectin?
Heartgard Plus contains ivermectin as well as pyrantel pamoate, a dewormer. This is one of the cheapest dewormers on the market, used to treat roundworms in puppies. Roundworms may not even be an issue in adult dogs unless they are nursing. The drug also treats hookworms, a more important parasite and one that should be controlled.
Effective dewormers can be bought without a prescription. Even if your dog was continuously exposed it would still be cheaper to buy these drugs separately.
How do you prevent heartworm in your dog?
If you have a small dog, are nervous about drawing up the ivermectin into a syringe, if you are afraid to figure out the dose for your dog, or if you believe the advertisements and think that the branded product is safer than generic, then you are better off paying a little more and buying the product sold by your veterinarian.
This method is not as easy as picking up a package and giving your dog a chewable every month. No matter what method you use, please continue protecting your dog however you feel is best.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
Do I have to make sure my dog doesn’t have Heartworm before giving her the ivermectin? Also, is it a once a month dose?
Ivermectin is used in the "slow kill" method to treat dogs that have heartworms. So no, you do not have to be sure your dog is heartworm negative before starting the preventative.
Some vet techs/vet receptionists will tell you that you can kill your dog if you give heartworm preventative without having a heartworm test first. This is not true. In the 70s and 80s we used a medication called Filaribits, and if the dog was not heartworm negative before prevention was given he could have problems. This is not the case with ivermectin.
The ivermectin only needs to be given about every 45 days. The reason that companies recommend once a month is so that people do not forget. (Always give heartworm preventative the first of the month, etc.) If they tell people every 45 days, dogs are more likely to miss a dose, be given medication late, etc.
So yes, it is okay to give it once a month. Try the first of each month.Helpful 14
Do you have to dilute the sheep drench ivermectin like you do with the cattle pour on?
The doses that I list for the sheep drench are for the undiluted product. No, you do not need to dilute it any futher.Helpful 10
I mixed the dose of sheep drench with a blob of peanut butter and she ate it right up. My question is, you say to use a dry biscuit which she would never eat with the medicine on it. Did I make a mistake by using a moist media instead of a dry one for giving my dog medicine?
I just suggest using a dog biscuit since it is easy and most people have biscuits in the house. If your dog likes peanut butter instead that is great. Anything that masks the taste helps a lot.Helpful 9
I do not know if I can give the heartworm injectable formulation orally. Are the oral and injectable formulations the same drug?
The active component, ivermectin, is the same. The carrier molecule in the injectable solution is propylene glycol. This compound has been tested by the US FDA, and is generally listed as safe. It is used as a replacement for ethylene glycol in those "pet-safe" antifreeze solutions that you can buy. Would it be okay to give a couple of liters of propylene glycol orally? No, probably not. In this formulation, you are giving a very, very tiny amount.
As far as the sheep drench, it is an oral product. If you look at the dosing recommendations, you will see that it is a very tiny amount. If you have any doubts about this, I suggest you continue to buy the oral product that is sold through your vet. after all, it went through a 30-day test.Helpful 8
What do you recommend for intestinal parasites and fleas if changing from Trifexis to ivermectin?
It depends on what kind of parasites. The product in Heartgard, pyrantel pamoate, does not kill all parasites but is okay for roundworms. If you want to use that, you can purchase it VERY cheaply from Amazon. I think the best thing to do, however, takes your dogs stool sample to his regular vet a few times a year and have him checked for worms. It is likely that he will not even need any kind of treatment.
Fleas are another matter. If you live in an area where fleas are a big problem, it might be cheaper to use a medication like Triflexis that gets the fleas and prevents heartworm. If fleas are not much of an issue, you can use an over the counter topical (like Frontline or other inexpensive topicals sold in pet shops) or use natural flea control methods like a flea comb, vacuuming, and diatomaceous earth.
It depends on how big a problem fleas are, and how much you or the dog are bothered by them. I know some clients get upset if they see one flea.Helpful 7