Comparative efficacy of four commercially available heartworm preventive products against the MP3 laboratory strain of Dirofilaria immitis

Vet Parasitol. 2011 Mar 10;176(2-3):189-94. doi: 10.1016/j.vetpar.2010.12.049. Epub 2011 Jan 11.


A controlled laboratory study was conducted to evaluate the efficacy of four commercial products administered as a single treatment for the prevention of heartworm disease caused by Dirofilaria immitis in dogs. Forty-four commercially sourced Beagle dogs, 6-7 months of age, were received at the test site (Auburn University, Department of Pathobiology) on Study Day (SD) -72 to begin acclimation. On SD -30, each dog was inoculated subcutaneously with 100 infective, third-stage D. immitis larvae (MP3 strain, TRS Laboratories, Inc., Athens, GA). On SD -1, 40 dogs weighing 18.2-25.3 lbs were ranked by decreasing body weight and randomized to five groups of eight dogs each. On SD 0, the dogs assigned to Group 1 were treated orally with ivermectin/pyrantel pamoate chewable tablets, Group 2 dogs were treated orally with milbemycin oxime flavored tablets, Group 3 dogs were treated with selamectin topical solution, and Group 4 dogs were treated with imidacloprid/moxidectin topical solution. Group 5 dogs remained nontreated. Dosages for dogs in Groups 1-4 were based on the individual body weight of each dog and current labeled dose banding for each commercial product. All dogs were fasted overnight prior to treatment. Food was returned four hours after treatment. Animals were observed for abnormal clinical signs involving eyes, feces, respiration, behavioral attitude, locomotion/musculature, or skin conditions at prescribed intervals immediately after treatment and at twice daily intervals thereafter. On SD 90, whole blood was collected and tested for adult heartworm antigen. On SDs 119/120, the dogs were euthanized and subjected to necropsy examination for recovery of adult D. immitis and/or worm fragments. At necropsy, all 8 dogs in the nontreated group were infected with adult D. immitis (34-70 worms/dog, geometric mean (GM)=51.6 worms/dog). One or more adult D. immitis and/or worm fragments were recovered from 7 of 8 of the dogs each in Groups 1-3 (87.5% were heartworm positive). The respective GM worm burdens/dog for Groups 1-3 was 2.3, 2.4, and 2.3 which resulted in 95.6, 95.4 and 95.5% efficacy, respectively. No worms were recovered from any of the 8 dogs in Group 4 resulting in 100% efficacy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anthelmintics / therapeutic use*
  • Dirofilaria immitis / classification*
  • Dirofilariasis / drug therapy*
  • Dirofilariasis / parasitology
  • Dog Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Dog Diseases / parasitology
  • Dogs
  • Female
  • Male


  • Anthelmintics