What You Need to Know Before Transferring Your Dog to the Annual Heartworm Vaccination

Heartworm is a potentially fatal disease that requires extensive treatment – consider taking multiple medications and at least two months of complete rest – which is why veterinarians and dog owners are working so hard to prevent it. The most common preventive treatment is oral or topical medication once a month, but recently veterinarians in the United States have begun offering heartworm shots that last six or 12 months.

The biggest difference between heartworm shots and other heartworm medications is what antiparasitic medications they use. ProHeart injections use moxidectin and are available in six or 12 month form; many topical medicines (Advantage Multi and Advocate) also use moxidectin. The popular HeartGard chewable tablet uses either ivermectin or a combination of ivermectin and pyrantel. All of these medications are FDA approved and effective, so the choice comes down to which format works best for you and your dog. Here are the pros and cons of going shot.

Pros: convenience and price.

A heartworm shot once or twice a year may be more convenient than monthly doses. If they don’t get boosted at one appointment, your dog can get the booster shot as part of the check-up, and you don’t need to worry about it until the next. (Your veterinarian may decide it’s safe to do future heartworm shots and boosters, but until they know how your dog will respond, it’s best to distribute them.)

As you might expect, the cost of a heartworm shot depends on the size of your dog and how much your veterinarian charges for it. (Large doses for large dogs cost more than smaller doses for small dogs, plus visit fees and labor costs.) But while the shots are more expensive than oral and topical medications, the drugs themselves cost about the same. in year.

Bad: They can’t be made at home, and there is no protection against other worms.

Heartworm vaccinations must be done by a qualified veterinarian or technician, so you cannot do them yourself. If you are already paying for the examination, there is nothing to worry about; if you need to prescribe one just for a shot, it may be more expensive than necessary.

The last drawback of injections is potentially the biggest: unlike some other antiparasitic drugs, moxidectin only protects against the heartworm. Although heartworm disease is more dangerous than other types of parasitic infections, it is not the only one . Hookworms can cause severe anemia ; tapeworms can cause weight loss and diarrhea ; Roundworms can stunt a dog’s growth , making them especially dangerous for puppies. Depending on your dog’s risk factors for non-heartworm infections, your veterinarian may recommend a combination medication that protects against more than one parasite.

There is no universally right or wrong choice here. Heartworm shots are ideal for many dogs, but not all. If you are considering changing your medication, talk to your veterinarian first – they will give you the personalized advice you need to make a decision.

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