How to Buy Cheap Heartworm Preventatives
Can you buy heartworm prevention for your dog for less than 10 dollars a year? Sure you can. One of the great things I´ve noticed about a lot of the writers here at Hubpages is that they are trying to work on their craft and get by on little money. Living frugally seems to be the watchword here. There are a lot of areas in which I cannot help you because, despite my best efforts, I still need some money to get by. One thing I do hope to help with is the cost of keeping your dog healthy. 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.
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 it? 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 cattle ivermectin from Amazon.com. 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.
As I mentioned in my other article about heartworm disease, 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. 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.
On another site I read recently the writer was concerned about the high dose of ivermectin when preventing heartworm for small dogs and recommended making 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, an extra 3 cc syringe, and having another container to keep the dilute ivermectin in. A helpful hubber from Texas suggested purchasing the 0.08% ivermectin for sheep so I have included an Amazon capsule with that product. An 8 ounce bottle is enough to treat a one-hundred pound dog hundreds of times so 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. I do not have it available here but another site said that there was a two year expiration date, so even if you had to buy a bottle by yourself it would only cost about $15 per year.
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
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 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.
Owners of Collies, Shelties, OES, Aussies, and some other mixed breed dogs might be sensitive to ivermectin. If 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, www.vetmed.wsu.edu/depts-VCPL/ . 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.
There might be some concern out there about reusing the needle and drawing up a small amount every month, as you are theoretically introducing bacteria into the solution as you do so. This is correct, but the number of bacteria introduced is almost insignificant, 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. A benefit of using the sheep product is that it is easier to draw up and will not require you to find a syringe with a needle. You can order the 1cc syringe without needle individually and reuse it; you will not need to purchase an entire box of 100.
There might also be some concern because the heartworm preventative you purchase is marked “plus” and contains pyrantel pamoate. 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. I have included the link to another article about deworming dogs; when it is appropriate and what medications you can buy and keep on the shelf. Even if your dog was continuously exposed it would still be cheaper to buy these drugs separately.
A medium sized dog is really only going to use about 2 cc of the ivermectin before it expires and needs to be replaced so if you have more than one dog and spend a lot of money on heartworm preventative every year, more than you can really afford, this is a good option. I live in an area blessed with a heavy mosquito population year-round and since this therapy is so cheap I bought a bottle of ivermectin and dose my dog once a month.
If you have a small dog, are nervous about drawing up the ivermectin into a syringe, if you are afraid to use your algebra and 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. The heartworm preventative you can buy from your veterinarian comes in a chewable formula that most dogs like. Please continue protecting your dog however you feel is best.