Ivermectin Sensitivity


I have heard that Border Collies are sensitive to ivermectin and so I shouldn't be giving my dog Heartgard because it might kill her. But since Heartgard is a heartworm preventative, isn't it worse to not give them their Heartgard than better? I have a friend that gives her Border Collies ivermectin from a cattle medicine and she claims to never have had a problem. I don't know of any alternatives. Can you fill me in?
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First of all, the ivermectin dosage in Heartgard is very low. Most of the sensitivity reports have been on much higher dosages. Some anecdotal reports from breeders and other have been for problems with the lower heartworm dosage. The concern with using Heartgard is negligible and many Border Collie owners use it without incident. There is however, an alternative to using ivermectin-based heartworm preventatives called Interceptor. I recommend the usage of Interceptor for Border Collies. My feeling on ivermectin is this - if there is an equally effective alternative, why not use it? For example, you may have allergic reactions if you drink a gallon of milk. If someone offers you a glass of milk or a glass of orange juice, which one would you drink? There'd have to be something intrinsically important about the glass of milk to get me to drink it. Since Interceptor and Heartgard cost the same, are equally efficacious, and both are readily available, I can see of NO reason to recommend the usage of Heartgard in Border Collies.

Those folks using diluted cattle ivomec do so for expenses. If you live on a farm and have 15 dogs, the financial aspect becomes an important factor. For those people, using ivermectin may be their best alternative. However, this should only be undertaken with the following caveats: a) it must be under the strict scrutiny of a vet b) you must understand that overdosages using this method are a very real threat to your dogs c) this is off-label usage and your vet (if they're smart) won't stand behind you should something go wrong (i.e. you can't hold your vet or the drug company responsible if something screws up)

Filarabits are an equally viable alternative daily heartworm preventative, though most dogs can't stand the taste of them and it's a real pain in the butt to give them once a day. If you have more than one dog, it becomes too much of a hassle.

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Page last updated April 1, 1997. All material Copyright 2004 Border Collie Rescue, Inc. and Dr. Nicholas B. Carter
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