Tapeworms, hookworms, whipworms, pinworms, etc. are some of the various types of parasitic worms. These parasites can ruin your wellbeing as they start nourishing themselves by living off foods you consume. These worms can ruin your pet’s intestinal system. Once they get into your dog’s intestines, they may enter into several other parts of your pet’s system. Anti-parasitic drugs are widely used for dogs. Drugs such as ivermectin can help prevent heartworm related diseases. But, is this drug a safe med for dogs? You need to know more on this before giving it to your canine friend.

Dogs are prone to heartworm infections. These worms may live off your pet’s lungs, heart as well as arteries. If left unchecked, these can grow up to cause severe damage to your pet’s heart. They may also lead to chronic spells of high blood pressure. Heartworm is known to spread through mosquito bites. If your pet is infected by such worms, you can identify this condition through a few distinctive signs. These include coughing, breathing difficulties such as shallow respiratory cycles, gasping or wheezing, etc. If your pet’s liver stands damaged, it can show up in the form of inflammation of abdomen as well as discharge of dark urine. Your pet may also exhibit a few other symptoms such as loss of body weight or being excessively tired.

What is ivermectin?

This is an anti-parasitic med commonly prescribed for dogs to prevent heartworm infections. It is also administered for the treatment of other external and internal parasites such as ear mites, scabies or mange. In case of intestinal parasites, it can be used for the treatment of infections caused by roundworm and hookworm. This is however not an over the counter medicine for dogs. It must always be accompanied by the prescription of a qualified veterinarian. Ivermectin is often combined with other deworming drugs. This drug is sold in multiple forms namely, chewable pills, tablets as well as topical creams.

This med can be administered before or after a meal. Some dogs may vomit the drug soon after taking it, especially when you are trying to feed it on an empty tummy. In such cases, giving some food or a little treat may help. It may take 60 to 90 minutes for the drug to start working. If the drug is not functioning well, it is highly recommended to take a few tests to see the progress made. This drug needs to be given in very little doses. So, if you have missed a dose, never make up for it by offering a double dose to your pet. Instead, skip the dose you missed and go ahead with the next dose.

Younger pups must never be allowed to take this drug. So, if your canine pet is less than 7 weeks old, tell your treating vet about your pet’s age before commencing the medication plan. Also, pets that are not diagnosed of heartworm infections must not take this anti-parasitic med. Moreover, a few breeds of dogs are more sensitive to the key chemicals of ivermectin. So, it becomes important to tell your treating vet about your pet’s breed.

Other needful precautions associated with the use of ivermectin

If you are already administering a few drugs to your furry pet, the vet needs to be informed of all such drugs. Not stopping with drugs, if you are pursuing any other treatment plans, details of such plans may also need to be disclosed to the caregiving team. It is a good practice to make a list of all meds your pet is treated with. While compiling this list, care to include dietary aids, nutrients as well as supplements, if any. If your pet is given antimicrobial meds such as erythromycin, ketoconazole, etc., stay aware that these meds may enhance the efficacy of ivermectin. Also, owners of dogs treated with flea treatment meds such as spinosad (a commonly used preventive med) must talk to your vet about optimal dosage forms. These two drugs in larger dosage forms can lead to near-fatal effects in your pet. It is highly recommended to keep your ivermectin doses at the lowest possible level. Owing to such risks, ensure to adhere to the instructions of your vet all through your pet’s treatment plan.

What to do if your dog is sensitive to ivermectin?

A few breeds of dogs may turn extremely sensitive to this med. It becomes essential to test your pet for possible risks of ivermectin sensitivity or related allergies. Your vet may suggest a DNA test to understand mutations at the genetic level which may trigger hypersensitivities. But, how do you know if allergies are showing up in your pet? Watch out for these signs: sudden drop in appetite levels or other abdominal discomforts, blurring of eyesight or temporary loss of vision, staying depressed, excessive drooling as well as respiratory problems. Ivermectin toxicity is not reversible. But, if you have administered the drug is less than 5 hours, the treating vet may trigger vomiting. In some cases, activated charcoal is administered to reduce the toxic effects of ivermectin.

In this light, it becomes important to know the safe dosage levels suitable for dogs. In case of heartworm prevention, never exceed 5 to 10 micrograms (mcg) per kilogram (kg) of bodyweight. As a precautionary measure, a few vulnerable breeds of dogs are given monthly doses of this med. But, all such measures must be taken under the guidance and supervision of a qualified vet. Always stay aware of risks of toxicity especially within 6 to 10 hours of administering ivermectin. Upon detecting any possible signs of an overdose or a toxic condition, consult with your vet as quickly as possible.

In sum, ivermectin is an anti-parasitic drug. It is used for dogs to prevent possible risks of heartworm infections. It can also be used to treat a few other types of parasites like scabies, ear mites, etc. You need to remember that it not an OTC drug. Hence, it must be purchased with the prescription of your treating vet. You are advised to follow the dosage instructions of your vet carefully. Larger dosages can trigger toxicity. If you are noticing signs such as a drop in appetite, blurring of vision or depression in your furry pet, inform the vet without much delay.

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