I always get my dogs tested in the Spring for heartworm and give them Heartgard from June through November.  But I have been reading of the side effects of Heartgard.  The potential side effects of Ivermectin (the active ingredient in Heartgard) include liver problems, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, depression, lethargy, skin eruptions, seizures, tremors, paralysis, autoimmune disorders, thyroid problems, fever, weakness, dizziness, coughing, nose bleeds, difficulty breathing, pneumonia, irritability, sudden aggressive behavior, nerve damage, fertility problems, and sudden death.  I know these side effects probably don't happen too often.   Do you think the benefits of this treatment out weigh the side effects?  I only started thinking about this because I have a sickly dog and don't want to put anymore strain on her liver by giving this.  Do most of you give Heartgard to your pets?

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I live in Texas. My five cocker spaniels get ivermectin year round. Before heartworm preventative was available I had several dogs die from heartworm infestations - it was common in Texas when I was a child.

I have never had a dog react badly to ivermectin. If you have specific concerns I would discuss them with a veterinarian. Depending on where you live, your vet may have strategies to lessen the potential impact.

If the dog gets heartworms, the treatment is massive doses of ivermectin which requires four - six weeks crate rest and the possibility if stroke or heart attack resulting in death from the pieces of the dead heartworms breaking loose. Death from an untreated heartworm infestation is horrible - the worms basically burrow through the pulmonary system.

I'm sorry to be blunt, but having seen both sides of this, and having fostered dogs who came into my rescue with heartworm infestations, I'll risk the side effects.
Thanks for your input. I do have an appointment with my Vet for my dog's check up today. I am all for preventative medicine. But my dog takes 2 medications already for a seizure disorder, which are harsh on the liver. We think she may also have degenerative myleopathy, which cause hind leg weakness and eventually paralyzation. She is declining. I give her alot of supplements. I am just scared to give her something that may hurt her. I know these are all questions for my Vet. I just wanted to hear what others thought. I do have 2 other dogs that will get the heartworm med.
I understand that a dog with epilepsy and myleopathy may not be a good candidate for ivermectin. Also, there is the consideration of the dog's age and expected lifespan. A heartworm infestation takes time to kill a dog, and if she doesn't have a fair lifespan ahead of her the vet may decide that not using ivermectin is worth the risk for her.

I have an epileptic dog who I do medicate with ivermectin, but he is only 8 and the danger of heartworms is very pronounced down here. Dogs who are not on preventative are guaranteed to get heartworms. I have not experienced an invermectin reaction with him.

In my rescue we have had older dogs - generally over 12 or 13 - who were heartworm positive but the veterinarian made the judgment call to simply dose the dog with a preventative to stop the infestation from progressing as the dog would probably not survive heartworm treatment.
The Vet was okay with us not doing the heartworm med. He saw alot of changes since her last appointment that are indicate that she has degenerative myelopathy. He said that her symptoms would be more pronounced within the next 6 months and we would have to start thinking about her quality of life. It is all so sad to watch your pet detoriate like this. She is such a sweet dog. She is a rescue dog I adopted at 6 weeks old. We think she is German Shepard/Retriever Mix. The shepards are prone to get this spine disease. The best I can to is give her a wonderful life and love her until that dreaded day comes. You sound like you are a real animal lover. Your house much be fun with 5 cocker spaniels running around. They are like a children.
I'm so sorry you're having to go through this with your dog. It is heartbreaking, especially when you know what's coming.

My house is a lot of fun - a little crazy, but fun. Five cocker spaniels, two cats, my two college-age sons (and sometimes their girlfriends), my mother and my poor, long suffering husband. lol
Ivermectin is being considered for use in people for treatment of HEADLICE !!!
http://www.hc2d.co.uk/content.php?contentId=14370
Yes it is, as a last line resource. Lice are becoming resistant to permethin.
It can vary with breed. We found out through our dog behaving oddly after being given one brand of medication that Collies tend to have problems with it and when we changed heart worm meds. he was fine. Most breeds, mixed of course require more research, have people devoted to them enough to help us find the right information.

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