Caring for a Canine Heart: Should You Buy Generic or Branded Heartworm Medication for Dogs

Dog at vets

            Through your dog’s lifetime, you are expected to provide for all of your dog’s needs, from their nutrition, grooming and hygiene needs, and other accessories that your dog might need. Now, when it comes to most other things that you need to buy for your dog, you have two choices. If you have disposable income, you can purchase high-end branded pet items, which are usually more durable, stronger, and will last longer. However, if you’re on a tight budget, there are times when you might opt for generic 

items. They are cheaper, but they are not as strong and durable.

            When it comes to your dog’s medications, however, you might be wondering whether you should buy the branded medications or opt for the cheaper generic versions. Heartworm medication is one of these medications that you need to decide on.

 

Is Heartworm Medication Really that Important?

            In a word, yes. If you want your dog to live a long and healthy life, you need to regularly provide heartworm medication for your pet. As suggested by its name, heartworm medication treats heartworm disease and prevents its negative effects from affecting your animal.

            Heartworm disease is caused by a parasite with the scientific name Dirofilaria immitis. It is a type of parasitic roundworm that looks thread-like and is transmitted from one dog to another through an intermediary host: the common mosquito. When a mosquito feeds on a dog who is infected with adult heartworms, it will ingest the larvae of the parasite (called microfilaria) through the dog’s bloodstream. When they move on and feed on a healthy dog, they will then inject these larvae into the new host, starting the cycle again.

            If left untreated, heartworm disease is a serious and potentially lethal disease for dogs as the adult worms will continue to reproduce in their heart chambers and nearby blood vessels. Over time, the sheer number of the heartworms will block the blood flow inside your dog, causing heart failure, difficulty breathing, and eventually complete shutdown of other organs.

 

What are the Signs of Heartworm Infection?

            The problem with trying to detect heartworm infection early is that the symptoms are not noticeably severe until the situation becomes life-threatening. During the early stages of infection, you will just notice that your dog might have a loss of appetite, difficulty in breathing after strenuous play, and occasional lethargy. All of the symptoms can point to a host of other problems. Thus, the best way to handle heartworm is by completely preventing it from beginning in the first place.

 

Heartworm Medication: Generic vs. Branded

 

            If you try to look for heartworm medication, you will notice that there are both generic and branded forms. For generic medications, some of the most popular brands are Iverhart and Tri-Heart, while for branded medications, you will generally find Heartguard Plus and Sentinel. Some heartworm medications are considered as “broad-spectrum”, which means that they target more than one type of parasite. Some, such as Nextra Spectrum, works against internal parasites such as worms as well as external parasites such as fleas and ticks.

            In general, branded medications are more expensive compared to generic ones, however, you should not buy into the myth that branded medications work better compared to generic ones. In fact, let’s look at two of the most popular heartworm medications: Iverhart for generic and Heartgard Plus for branded.

            The most important thing that you need to look at is what kind of active ingredients they contain, as these will basically dictate how effective a certain medication is. Both medications contain the exact same active ingredients in the same dosages, which means that they will work the same in treating your dog.

            If there is a difference between the two medications, it’s in the flavor, texture, and customer reviews. Heartgard Plus has a soft and chewy texture and beef flavor, while Iverhart has a hard, crunchy texture and pork liver flavor. A slight number of customers have reported that their dogs prefer Heartgard over Iverhart due to the softer texture and flavor.

 

Which Should I Choose?

            In the end, it will be up to your personal preference to choose between generic and branded heartworm medications for dogs. Your budget will play some part, as well as the availability of the products, however, if you purchase online, it is quite easy to find both types of medication. The only important thing when it comes to heartworm medications is that you have properly consulted a vet with regards to the dosage and schedule that you need for your dog.