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Ivomec: Alternative to Pricey Heartworm Preventatives

Posted July 23, 2012 12:00 AM by SavvyExacta

Appointments with a pet's veterinarian are usually pricey but I had a case of sticker shock during my dog's last visit. It was time to buy some more heartworm preventative. Because of a shortage of Interceptor, a drug commonly used to prevent heartworm that costs about $60 for a six-month supply, the vet prescribed Trifexis at a cost of $100 for a six-month supply.

Yikes! While I think it's important to keep my dog protected, I'd like to have enough money left in the pet budget to buy her some food. My father pointed out an economical alternative that my uncle has been using for years.

What is Heartworm?

Heartworm, also known as Dirofilaria immitis, is a devastating parasitic roundworm that is spread by mosquito bites. It can infect dogs, cats, wolves, coyotes, foxes, and some other animals. The worm resides in the arteries of the lungs and damages the tissue. Some sedentary dogs show no sign of damage. Symptoms in moderate to severe cases include a cough, weight loss, fainting, coughing up blood, and congestive heart failure.

Dogs should be tested for heartworm infection with a simple blood test each year because the preventative drugs can do more harm than good if infection is already present. Infected dogs can be treated with an arsenic-based compound called Immiticide.

Heartworm Prevention

Heartworm infection can be prevented by administering a form of ivermectin when the temperature is over 57° F. There are many products marketed in a monthly pill form. Six- and 12-month injectable forms are also being studied.

The available treatments must be prescribed by a veterinarian. While they are 99% effective when administered according to the instructions, they are pricey.

Ivomec

Ivomec is ivermectin available in an injectable form for cattle and swine. Dogs can take this version of the drug orally, either with a needle-less syringe or squirted on a piece of food. The recommended monthly dosage is 0.0015 to 0.0030 mg per pound.

There are pros and cons to every choice.

  • Cost - Ivomec costs about $40 for a 50mL bottle that can last for a long time. My 50 pound dog could get 83 doses from one bottle. The same number of doses of Interceptor cost about $830.
  • Treatment - Ivomec can prevent heartworm, treat skin and intestinal parasites, and treat mange. Other forms of heartworm prevention, like Trifexis, also kill fleas.
  • Side Effects - As with many drugs, Ivomec has side effects including stumbling blindness, vomiting, diarrhea, and weakness. The side effects of Interceptor are similar: depression, drowsiness, vomiting, diarrhea, hypersalivation, seizures, and weakness.

So is Ivomec right for your dog? It's still important to have your dog tested for heartworm before dispensing the drug. It's a good idea to talk to your vet about heartworm prevention options. Most forms (including Ivomec) are intended to be administered monthly and the drugs can only help if they are administered correctly.

Editor's Note: This blog entry is based on the author's personal experience and is not a recommendation for treatment. Talk to your own veterinarian before starting or changing a heartworm prevention plan.

Resources

Vetinfo - Ivomec for Dogs

Wikipedia - Dirofilaria immitis

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#1

Re: Ivomec: Alternative to Pricey Heartworm Preventatives

07/23/2012 12:29 PM

I am getting very leery of the medical profession, no matter if it animal science or people. What people spend on pets have increased substantially, companies are as I feel, cashing in.

And this goes to medical doctors/dentists. I went to a dentist about a month ago. they took x-rays, and determined I needed a root canal. Since dentists no longer do these, they suggested a specialist and would send my files over.

Fine, They also informed me its cash up front, ($1,003.00), (until the insurance goes through), I again said. I know of people that would get dental work done, and skips on paying. (or pays like their getting their teeth pulled)

Well I went to the specialist, the first thing they did was prepped me for was x-rays.

I looked and saw they had EDI (Electronic Data Interface) and told them, I had x-rays done from my dentist, you should have them, their response was, this is procedures. And more then likely, we didn't get them or they didn't send them. I told them more than likely your didn't even look. She did, and she had them.

My appointment was at 2:30 pm, they got me in the chair at 2:55 pm, the dentist came in at 3:00, and said to the nurse, were closing at 3:00 today are we, what time is it now? I told him the time is 3:05, and I just sat down.

Well, they made another appointment for me, I got it done, they did do another x-ray to confirm the placement and then I paid at the front desk and asked for an itemized bill to be mailed to me because they did not have it at the time.

I just saw it was taken off my account, and waiting for the itemized bill, going to be interesting to see because it should consist of one less x-rays is on it.

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#2

Re: Ivomec: Alternative to Pricey Heartworm Preventatives

07/24/2012 5:50 AM

Thank you SavvyExacta!

.

I will be looking into using Ivomec for my PWD. Currently I dodge a large part of her health care bill by perform her yearly vaccinations and occasional de-wormer myself with supplies from the local feed & seed. Ivomec may offer another significant reduction in cost of necessary preventative healthcare.

.

Thank you again for this valuable tip.

.

BTW... Did you take the picture posted with this blog? That certainly doesn't look like a Beagle. Looks like an English Setter or Llewellyn Setter, to me....

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: Ivomec: Alternative to Pricey Heartworm Preventatives

07/24/2012 7:14 AM

Glad to help!

I did take the picture and you're right, it is an English Setter. She joined the family in December, about a year after the passing of one of my beagles. Still have one beagle. I didn't intend for the setter to be in the picture but that place had the best lighting to take it and she happened to be lounging on the couch. Almost every single picture I take of something in the house usually has a dog in it!

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#4

Re: Ivomec: Alternative to Pricey Heartworm Preventatives

07/24/2012 7:55 AM

Thanks for the important info Savvy!

With 5 Border Collies and a Corgi, we have been spending a small fortune on de-worming them, not to mention paying the normal Vet bills!

Now, where to buy Ivomec? hmmm......

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#5
In reply to #4

Re: Ivomec: Alternative to Pricey Heartworm Preventatives

07/24/2012 7:58 AM

Tractor Supply sells it as well as the syringes (the ones without needles) needed to dispense it. A 1 mL syringe works well for accurate measurement.

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#6
In reply to #5

Re: Ivomec: Alternative to Pricey Heartworm Preventatives

07/24/2012 8:40 AM

Thanks Savvy, there's a Tractor Supply store near us.

No need to worry about syringes, as my wife is a Registered Nurse!

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#7
In reply to #6

Re: Ivomec: Alternative to Pricey Heartworm Preventatives

07/25/2012 10:21 AM

Hi folks,

shared this with my son who is a vet, he says it's a nice post but Ivomec should be avoided for sighthounds and collies due to a specific liver defficiency.

brgds

Snel

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#8
In reply to #7

Re: Ivomec: Alternative to Pricey Heartworm Preventatives

07/25/2012 10:32 AM

Sorry,

not really a liver defficiency, please check it at

http://www.vetmed.wsu.edu/depts-VCPL/

brgds

Snel

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#9
In reply to #8

Re: Ivomec: Alternative to Pricey Heartworm Preventatives

07/25/2012 11:07 AM

Thanks for the link Snel.

I checked out the site and it looks like my Border Collies will most likely not be affected since the Frequency is <5% for the Mutant Gene. Good to know!

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#10
In reply to #7

Re: Ivomec: Alternative to Pricey Heartworm Preventatives

07/25/2012 11:10 AM

Thanks for the additional info, Snel. I would recommend that anyone check with a vet before trying this at home.

My vet is comfortable with me using this on my dogs and didn't try to discourage it so she wouldn't lose out on her cut of my buying a prescription from the office.

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#11
In reply to #8

Re: Ivomec: Alternative to Pricey Heartworm Preventatives

07/26/2012 5:18 AM

The website states that dogs with this gene mutation will have adverse reactions to milbemycin, among other things.

.

Interceptor, Trifexis, and similar medications contain milbemycin.

.

While Ivomec shouldn't be given to dogs with that gene mutation, those dogs also shouldn't be given the very common medicines like Interceptor or Trifexis.

.

Instead of urging dog owners not to give Ivomec, it would make more sense to remind people not to begin treatment without knowing if their dog already has heart-worms, and if their dog is a carrier of the gene that makes them susceptible to the adverse reaction..

.

Given that the only dogs affected by this mutation would also not be able to take Interceptor or Trifexis, Ivomec looks like it might be a great alternative to those expensive medicines.

.

.

Just to be certain you don't misunderstand me, I appreciate the information and the link. Thank you. I am just suggesting the message could be improved....

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#12
In reply to #11

Re: Ivomec: Alternative to Pricey Heartworm Preventatives

07/26/2012 7:40 AM

Thanks TinaC for additional information!

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#13

Re: Ivomec: Alternative to Pricey Heartworm Preventatives

08/06/2012 5:49 PM

Ivermectin is a great drug when used correctly. Certain breads like collies and afghans and others can have a genetic blood brain barrier issue. These dogs can get neurotoxice from higher doses. Therefore if you dose ivermectin wrong in these dogs toxcity could follow. Also heartgard plus has pyrantal pomate which is a better GI wormer them ivermectin alone. Unless you have a kennel you will never go through bottle before it expires. Expired drugs tend to have less potency and you risk heartworm dz. Heartworm dz can cost you about $1000 to treat and you risk your dogs life. Also the drug to treat heartworm dz is in shortage right now. We now import most of this drug from Europe, when they allow us to. Heartgard at my clinic is cheaper thanks most online pharmacies. If your vet doesn't price match, then get the meds somewhere else. Why risk your dogs health. If you want to save money save it on the collars, leashes, dog beds etc. Remember as vets we are here to help and your pet. When possible support your vet, so we can continue to help you pet. Doug dvm

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#14
In reply to #10

Re: Ivomec: Alternative to Pricey Heartworm Preventatives

08/06/2012 10:18 PM

Savvy, I checked out the Tractor Supply website, and it appears that the Ivomec that they sell is originally meant for treating dairy cows.

Is this the same stuff that you're using on your dog? Just curious.

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#15
In reply to #14

Re: Ivomec: Alternative to Pricey Heartworm Preventatives

08/07/2012 6:54 AM

Yes, it's an injectable form used for cattle and swine. You can administer it to dogs orally, however, the dosage is different.

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#16

Re: Ivomec: Alternative to Pricey Heartworm Preventatives

08/07/2012 10:47 AM

The World Health Organization gives Ivermectin to 2.5 MILLION people every year for River Blindness.

Go to your local feed/farm store and buy it for $9.95 in a plastic syringe apple flavored form they use for horses. It is notched for weight dosages.

All drugs for animals in the US go through the same purity checks as for humans.

I have given it to my 7 dogs for years and their heart worm tests are always negative and I live in SW Florida where there is no shortage of mosquitoes.

I also eat it myself sometimes for live eye floaters from nematodes. Always wake up the next day with the eyes of a 16 year old!

Good safe, cheap stuff!

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#17

Re: Ivomec: Alternative to Pricey Heartworm Preventatives

08/07/2012 11:00 AM

Okay, this stuff works well for Heart Worms, but what about it being an effective treatment for other worms.....tape worms etc.?

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#18
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Re: Ivomec: Alternative to Pricey Heartworm Preventatives

08/07/2012 11:37 AM

Different types of dewormers (ivermectin, pyrantel pamoate) work on different types of worms (lung worms, tape worms).

Here's a chart I found with a quick search, there are probably others: http://www.wowhorses.com/types-horse-wormers.html

When I was deworming horses we would rotate through the different types of dewormer depending on the season. This makes sure you hit all of your bases with different types of worms.

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#19

Re: Ivomec: Alternative to Pricey Heartworm Preventatives

08/07/2012 8:42 PM

The other big maintenance cost for dogs is flea meds.

After watching the skin on my Yorkie's back turn into a slab of thick hide over the course of the 16 years he lived the good life, I turned to Comfortis for my Chow/Aussie mix, Buck.

Spinosad is a mixture of spinosyn A and spinosyn D, two naturally occurring metabolites from the soil bacterium, Saccharopolyspora spinosa.

Basically they are enzymes. I think when fleas ingest it their nervous system locks up and they suffocate. They definetly are dead in 20 minutes after dogs eat the Comfortis tablet.

Then when I read the Dow info on it I realized that even if a human accidently swallows some of it, NO ACTION IS NECESSARY!

This led me to look for a cheaper source of it. Found it in my local garden supply store as this:

http://www.fertilome.com/product.aspx?pid=040d0f7c-b636-4dda-81d9-867e3a96ed9a

It is basically Spinosad A & B, water, and a little bit of alcohol as a preservative.

Same thing on it's label, no action necessary in case of accidental human consumption. Plus you don't get fleas!

So, my 7 dogs now get 1.5 oz. a month mixed with some canned food and I haven't had any fleas in 8 years and I live in SW Fla where they are a year round menace.

One bottle does 7 dogs twice for $15 total which is roughly $1 a dose compared to $12 a dose in pill form from my Vet.

Not much taste to it at all.

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#20
In reply to #19

Re: Ivomec: Alternative to Pricey Heartworm Preventatives

08/08/2012 7:10 AM

Thank you for the tip! I was thinking about researching flea preventatives next. Do you happen to know if it helps with ticks? They can be a big problem here in the Northeast.

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#21
In reply to #20

Re: Ivomec: Alternative to Pricey Heartworm Preventatives

08/08/2012 10:20 AM

Nope, spinosad will not kill ticks. Also, it is NOT for cats!

I've been trying to talk the health department for NY State into spraying for the ticks in the winter up there when the leaves are off the trees and the larval stage is moving from their mice hosts onto the ground where they can find the deer, rabbits, and other bigger mammals to latch onto.

Here in SWFla we spray for mosquito larvae and it also kills the ticks I believe because we have NO ticks here now.

I have only mixed breed 'rescued dogs, Plott/Rottie, Chow/Aussie, Plott/Australian Cattle Dog, Mountain Cur, and one old, old, old full blooded Plott I found in the woods 3 years ago where someone had dropped him off hoping the coyotes would eat him. His name is Stinky and he is probably 20 years old now. He sleeps like a rock and every morning I nudge him with my toe and ask, "Stinky! Are you dead yet?" to get him to move out of the hallway so I can get to the coffee pot.

My Vet, Dr. Ollie is a 2nd generation one whose Dad was a large animal Vet and did both domestic animals as well as zoo animals. Doc Ollie always kids me about bringing in the mutts once a year since nothing is ever wrong with them but I like to get the tests done to make sure I haven't missed something.

He says I'm wasting my money. Most of his clients have 'pure bred' dogs who all have something wrong with them that is 'breed specific' from being inbred too much over the last hundred years. He has a million dollar house on a 5 acre mini-farm on the river, a 750i BMW, 42 foot ketch, and a bunch of other real estate investments all from his practice that he runs by himself with only his Gal Friday who has been with him for 25 years! Best Vet I've ever found tho so can't hold his success against him! It's the American Way...

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