The purpose of this study was to assess the efficacy of moxidectin sustained release injectable for dogs (moxidectin SR, Fort Dodge Animal Health) in protecting growing puppies from experimental infection with the heartworm, Dirofilaria immitis, six months after treatment. The study involved 27 puppies, approximately 12 weeks of age at the beginning of the study, with nine puppies in each of three size classes. The small breed class included eight Pekingese and one purpose-bred small breed mongrel; the medium breed class included nine purpose-bred mongrels, and the large breed class included nine puppies with an anticipated adult weight ≥30-35 kg. Both genders were included with no attempt made to have equal numbers of male and female puppies. Puppies were blocked by weight within each size class and randomly assigned to three treatment groups of nine dogs. On Day 0, pups in two groups were injected subcutaneously with moxidectin SR, dosed to deliver 0.17 mg moxidectin/kg b.w. The third group was injected with sterile saline. Personnel making observations were blinded to the treatment status of the animals. Following treatment, puppies were observed for signs of adverse local and systemic reactions. Puppy weights and serum moxidectin levels were also monitored. On Day 180, puppies in all treatment groups were inoculated subcutaneously with 50 third-stage larvae of D. immitis. On Days 348 and 349, puppies were euthanatized and necropsied. Hearts and lungs were examined for adult heartworms. All animals in the saline control group were infected with an arithmetic mean of 39.22 adult heartworms each. Seventeen of 18 dogs in the moxidectin SR-treated groups were uninfected. One treated puppy was infected with a single adult heartworm. This infected individual was from the large breed size class and had the second highest percent increase in body weight. Based on arithmetic means, the heartworm recovery from all treated puppies represents a 99.86% reduction relative to the saline control. There were no adverse local or systemic reactions to treatment in any animal.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We are grateful to Laura McNelis, Janine Haney, Christine Chapman and Mary Ulrich for expert technical assistance, to Joan Cole, DVM for outstanding veterinary care and to the ULAR staff at the University of Pennsylvania for excellent laboratory animal husbandry. This study was funded in part by a research contract to J.B. Lok from Fort Dodge Animal Health (No. 0899-C-US-30-02).
- Dirofilaria immitis
- Heartworm infection
- Prophylactic efficacy