Can I Give My Dog Ivermectin?
Yes, you can give your dog Ivermectin, but only if your veterinarian approves of the use. This is because Ivermectin is generally safe but must not be used in dogs carrying the MDR1 gene. In such dogs, this medication causes irreversible neurotoxicity (CNS damage).
Ivermectin causes damage to the parasite’s central nervous system, which results in paralysis and death (acts like a GABA receptor agonist). The Ivermectin’s toxic effects are not dangerous for mammals because the medication does not cross the blood-brain barrier in most animal species.
However, dogs with MDR1 gene mutation have defective p-glycoprotein transporter, which results in the Ivermectin crossing the barrier and causing toxicity. The p-glycoprotein may also be overwhelmed and become defective in cases of overdose.
What is Ivermectin Used to Treat in Dogs?
In dogs, Ivermectin is used in the prevention and treatment of various types of internal and external parasites. In fact, in veterinary medicine, Ivermectin is safely used for parasite control in several animal species (dogs, cats, swine, cattle, and horses). Some of Ivermectin uses are approved, and others are extra-label.
Ivermectin for Dog Heartworm Prevention. Ivermectin is the medication of choice for preventing heartworm infestations. It is also used to clear heartworm larvae in dogs with active infection cases. Ivermectin cannot kill adult heartworms living in the heart and pulmonary arteries.
Ivermectin in the Treatment of Worms in Dogs. Ivermectin is efficient in killing and eliminating certain internal parasites like roundworms and hookworms. The medication is also recommended for dogs with capillariasis. However, Ivermectin is not potent against tapeworms.
Ivermectin in the Treatment of External Parasites in Dogs. In higher doses, Ivermectin can be used to treat demodectic mange, sarcoptic mange (scabies), ear mites (notoedric mange), most other mites, and some lice. We must note that Ivermectin is not effective against ticks, fleas, flukes, and flies.
What are the Side Effects of Ivermectin in Dogs?
The common side effects of Ivermectin in dogs include vomiting, dilated pupils, blindness, tremors, seizures, lack of coordination, appetite loss, lethargy, and dehydration.
When administered to dogs with heartworm infestations, Ivermectin may cause a shock-like reaction (because of the dying microfilaria) with symptoms like vomiting, excessive lethargy, and hypothermia (decreased body temperature).
The risk of side effects is greater when using higher doses. Plus, because of the high side effects risk, Ivermectin should not be used in:
- Dog breeds with MDR1genemutation
- Australian Shepherds
- Old English Sheepdogs
- Shetland Sheepdogs (Shelties)
- German Shepherds
- Silken Windhounds
- Skye Terriers
- Long-Haired Whippets
- Dogs receiving meds with known interactions
- Puppies younger than six weeks of age
- Pregnant and lactating female dogs.
Ivermectin Dosage for Dogs
The recommended dose of Ivermectin depends on the dog’s body weight and parasite. For example, for heartworm prevention, the dose is 0.0015-0.003 milligram per pound (0.003 to 0.006 milligram/kilogram) once a month. For skin parasites, it is 0.15 milligram per pound (0.3 milligram per kilogram) and needs to be repeated after 14 days. For internal worms, the one-time dose is 0.1 milligram per pound (0.2 milligram/kilogram).
If you accidentally forget to give your dog its Ivermectin dose, administer it as soon as you remember. However, if you are over two weeks late, talk to your veterinarian first, as in this case, the dog’s heartworm prevention is already compromised.
Never double dose your dog to make up for the skipped dosing. In excess amounts, this drug can cause an overdose. Ivermectin toxicity in dogs is a life-threatening situation that manifests with mydriasis (dilated pupils), ataxia (loss of coordination), vocalization, blindness, dementia, disorientation, coma, and even death.
Ivermectin for Dogs Usage Guidelines
Ivermectin for dogs is available in different formulations including tablets, chewable tablets, topical liquids (spot-on), and injectable liquids. The oral forms can be given with or without food. In dogs with sensitive tummies, it is best to give Ivermectin with food.
Ivermectin is a fast-acting drug that starts working within one or two hours of administration. However, its effects are not visible on the outside. Ideally, the Ivermectin’s effectiveness should be evaluated via laboratory tests.
Ivermectin may interact with certain medications. Inhibiting or boosting interactions are possible with:
- Some antifungals (ketoconazole, itraconazole)
- Some antibiotics (erythromycin)
- Immunosuppressants (cyclosporine)
- High blood pressure meds (nifedipine, amlodipine).
High Ivermectin doses (for parasite control) must not be used in dogs receiving Spinosad (a standard flea preventive treatment). However, low doses (for heartworm prevention) are safe when combined with Spinosad (Comfortis or Trifexis).
Finally, make sure the Ivermectin is stored at room temperature, in a cool, dry place, and away from direct sunlight and heat. Heat and moisture exposure can reduce the medication’s effect.
Ivermectin Alternatives for Dogs
There are also some natural ways to control parasites in dogs. However, more often than not, they are either inefficient or too risky. Therefore, it is best to stick to proven (safe and efficient) control methods.
Before giving your dog Ivermectin or some of its alternatives, make sure you consult with a trusted veterinarian. The information in this article is purely educational and should not be used as a substitute for professional advice.