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Ivermax to Treat Heartworms in Dogs

| Updated September 26, 2017

Heartworms can be deadly in dogs. That’s why it’s important to treat dogs with heartworms as early as possible with an effective drug. Ivermax is a veterinary drug used to prevent and treat many kinds of parasitic infections in animals, including dogs.


Heartworms are a type of parasite that dogs can get from being bitten by mosquitoes carrying the worm’s larvae. Just one bite from a carrier mosquito will result in heartworm disease. Once a dog has been bitten, it takes about seven months for the larvae to mature into adult worms, which then lodge themselves in the heart and other vital organs and reproduce. Dogs with heartworms will develop a cough and will become winded easily.


Ivermax is a brand name for Ivermectin, a drug that is also the main active ingredient in Heartgard, a popular heartworm preventative medication for dogs. It works by binding to the nerve and muscle cells of invertebrates, resulting in the parasites’ paralysis and eventual death.


Using Ivermax on a regular basis as prescribed by your veterinarian will kill most of the young heartworms in an infected dog in about two years, according to WebMD. However, the problem with this treatment method is that during that time, the worms will be doing permanent damage to the dog’s blood vessels and heart. Thus, while it’s often used as a preventative, it’s less often recommended as a treatment. More frequently, vets recommend the use of an arsenic-based injection called Immiticide, which kills the worms quickly.


Heartworms have been reported in dogs in all 50 states, according to WebMD. Thus, it’s important that dogs be on preventative medicine and that those who are infected are treated swiftly. It’s a common condition among shelter dogs, but because treatment for advanced heartworm disease can be prohibitively expensive, dogs with the condition are often euthanized. However, shelter dogs are often given Ivermax and other Ivermectin-based medications as a preventative measure against heartworms.


While Ivermax is deadly to heartworms, it’s very safe for dogs. That’s because mammals don’t have glutamate-gated chlorine channels, the type of cellular structure that the drug attacks. Ivermectin is usually administered in doses low enough that side effects are not apparent. However, Ivermax or any other Ivermectin-based drug should not be given to collies, Shetland sheepdogs, Australian shepherds, and Old English sheepdogs, which often have a genetic sensitivity to the drug and may experience toxicity.