Porky & Buddy Pet Health: What Are Alternative Medicines For Heartworm Protection?

Dear Porky & Buddy,

I took my dog, Spot, in for a checkup last week and was talking to my vet about his heartworm preventative for the summer.

He said that he pill I have been using for years, Interceptor, may not be available this year and then he gave me a lot of very confusing information about what I could use as an alternative, but apparently there is nothing quite as effective and wide ranging as Interceptor so now I am really in a quandary.

What is going on?


Dear Jane,

Is your husband’s name Dick?  Oh never mind.  Thanks for an interesting question. If your dog takes the heartworm preventative medication called Interceptor, or the heartworm and flea prevention called Sentinel, you may well have trouble buying the product right now.

Novartis, the company that makes these products stopped shipping them to veterinarians earlier this year. Vets were not warned of the shortage and many only found  out about it when they went  to re-order the products.

Novartis claims that there was no problem with either of the products, but there is a potential problem with the plant that manufactures them.  The plant, located in Lincoln, Nebraska, manufactures medications made for animals as well as several human medications.

An FDA inspection had found that its products could contain stray tablets, capsules, or caplets from other products, or contain broken or chipped tablets. No animal products were recalled and there are no known reports that any pets were harmed.

The plant which makes these products (including the veterinary products) was  closed and underwent a thorough re-inspection.

On February 2 Novartis announced that it was resuming shipment of the animal products that were already on hand when the plant was closed.

You can read the press release in the newsroom page at http://www.petwellness.com.  It appears to have been drafted by an army of lawyers (No offense—some of our best friends are lawyers.)  It is not clear from the press release when the plant will actually resume production.

If Interceptor and Sentinel remain difficult to obtain for longer than expected, there are many alternatives.

Talk to  your veterinarian to find out what other heartworm and flea preventatives are recommended in your area.  Many vets who normally prescribe interceptor will be prescribing a product called Heartgard instead.  For flea medications you can consider Revolution, Advantage Multi, Comfortis and Trifexis. 

And thank goodness for the work of the Food & Drug Administration!

The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County. Our office is located at 265 W. First St., Oswego, NY.

Phone (315) 207-1070. Email:[email protected] Website: www.oswegohumane.org