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Heartworm Prevention, Yay or Nay?

Heartworm Prevention, Yay or Nay?

I get asked a lot on if I personally give my dogs Heartguard or something similar to protect my dogs against heartworms.

I do not. I used to when we lived in Tennessee, and continued for a short time when we moved back here to Michigan, but I stopped giving it a few years ago.

Mac & Prada are out in the woods every day, multiple times a day, even in the summer time when more mosquitos are present. We do make it appoint to go inside before the sunsets/when it's extremely humid & mosquitos are more present. We also do not go to the water where high amounts of mosquitoes are present.

We also feed a raw diet, do not vaccinate, use natural shampoo/bug spray for optimal immune health.

Let's go over what Heartguard (and others like it) actually is and what it's claimed to do.

Heartguard contains the active ingredient called Ivermectin - "(ivermectin/pyrantel) prevents the invisible threat of heartworm disease and treats and controls five species of intestinal worms"

Okay, fair enough, we don't want our dogs getting any worms. And holy shit, how scary does heartworms sound!?

I do not deny that these issues exist, that dogs get them, and that it can potentially be an awful experience. But because I am here to share the unpopular opinions on things, I will say this.

I think it's usually not necessary to give our dogs these monthly drugs, especially year round, when they might not even be at high risk for contracting any worms this medicine claims to protect against.

I know it sounds scary to "not protect" your dog in anyway at all, but are drugs the right way to do that?

The side effects shared on the package of this particular brand are as follows:

Possible Side Effects

In clinical field trials with HEARTGARD Plus (ivermectin/pyrantel), vomiting or diarrhea within 24 hours of dosing was rarely observed (1.1% of administered doses). The following adverse reactions have been reported following the use of HEARTGARD Plus: Depression/lethargy, vomiting, anorexia, diarrhea, mydriasis, ataxia, staggering, convulsions and hypersalivation.

Now, not every single dog has issues with this medication, but the reported number of serious side effects are growing, and that's fucking scary.

Another issue I have with heartguard in particular is they do not tell you the "other ingredients" used to make this chew. They only list the active ingredients (ivermecfin/pyrantel) - but because this is is a chewable, I know for a fact there are other ingredients like flour, color, possibly meat (claims to be a beef flavored chew) to make up this chew - why the fuck aren't they telling us what else is in it?

Something else that is sketchy...they KNOW what its possible of doing to dogs. You might think, well anything can have side effects - and you're right, but like I said, these serious side effects are becoming more prevalent.


I encourage people to do a few things to assess their risk/exposure:

- research the number of reported cases in your area from a reliable web source

- do research on treatment of of said worms and understand it actually can be treated, but also prevented more naturally

-understand that your dog has to actually be bitten by an infected female mosquito to even have the chance of contracting heartworms

- you have the option of skipping heartworms meds and keeping your dog out of infested mosquito areas/times of day, and simply getting your dog tested more frequently


Here's some things you can do at home to boost your dogs immune system and overall health:

- add raw meat, fruits and veggies to their food bowl to boost immune system

- swap treats, toppers, and supplements for more naturally based ones

- consider a better kibble or raw diet to provide dogs optimal nutrients to support immune health

- be mindful of peak mosquito times and head inside before they come out

- use an all natural flea/tick/mosquito spray & collar that does not contain toxins -

- detox your dog with Milk Thistle throughout the year if you plan to stop using these drugs - 

- get your dog tested 1-3 times a year for heartworm

- if you don't want to stop giving these meds to your dog altogether, only give during peak mosquito months

- use an all natural, herbal preventative

- reduce environmental toxins (yard sprays, toxic home cleaners, etc)

- reduce vaccinations which damper immune system

However you choose to treat your dog is up to you, and I support you either way! Shown below is the natural alternative I have here at Sweet Paws that is safe to give all year round if you please! Please feel free to reach out with any and all questions!

Love, Mel, Mac & Prada

Sweet Paws Outfitters


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