Brand name Ivomec. Was until recently a prescription only medication for spot on use but a single use vial is now manufactured by Beaphar for use specifically on small animals. This product is called Anti-Parasite Spot On and is sold in a number of pet shops and online.
Ivermectin is a broad-spectrum anti-parasitic agent that can be used at low doses to eradicate a wide range of parasites from a variety of species. It is generally effective against most species of intestinal worm, mites and lice. It is not as effective against fleas.
Ivermectin works by promoting the release of an inhibitory neurotransmitter that leads to paralysis and death of the parasites. It is ineffective against those parasites that do not use this neurotransmitter. Also worthy of note is that when treating lice and mites the eggs are not affected, only hatchlings and adults. This is why repeat doses are necessary.
Ivermectin is considered to be very safe at specified doses as a spot on (topical) treatment. There is some evidence that when injected repeatedly, or in overdose, toxicity and death can occur. Topical treatment is sufficient for the treatment of fur mites, lice and intestinal worms (other than tape worm). Sarcoptic mange mite may require injected ivermectin and careful attention should be paid to ascertaining the correct dose (weighing the rat accurately) and treatment programme. As the drug, ivermectin stays within the body for extended periods of time and is metabolised by the liver. Cumulative overdose has been seen where rats have had 4 or 5 repeated (once weekly) injections. Symptoms of toxicity and overdose are clumsiness, lethargy, fits and death can result. I am aware of at least one case where 3 elderly (more vulnerable) rats died from overdose symptoms, following two spot on treatments, and correct dosing is essential.
Congenital abnormalities have been seen in studies where pregnant rats were given high doses of the drug. It was also found to concentrate in the milk of lactating does. No studies have been done regarding the effects on pregnant and lactating does at therapeutic doses. Therefore, treatment with ivermectin is not recommended in pregnant or lactating does, or kittens under the age of 3 to 4 weeks. If treatment during this period is essential a diluted dose can be given.*
Ivermectin should not be used at the same time as barbiturates or benzodiazepines (sometimes used for the treatment of fits) as it will enhance the sedative effects of these drugs.
1 drop of 1% Ivomec to the back of the neck/base of the ear. Repeat this dose after 7-10 days for a maximum total of three doses if necessary. 100 to 200 micrograms per lb of body weight given orally or by subcutaneous injection.
* Dilute 0.1ml Ivermectin in 1.0ml of water and drop 1 drop onto the back of the kitten’s neck. For nursing does drop 0.1ml of diluted solution onto the back of the neck.
It should be noted that different parasites may require different treatments and the minimum necessary to clear the rat of the parasite should always be used.
Common fur mites will generally clear with only one dose of spot on, and only the rats showing symptoms need to be treated.
Lice may need 2-3 applications of spot on about 10 days apart and all rats in the group should probably be treated.
Sarcoptic mange mite will need 3 doses of spot on 7-10 days apart. In persistant cases sc injection can be used with caution but it is probably best to wait at least 3-4 weeks after the last spot on treatment before giving this. It is highly contagious and other rats in the colony should probably have at least one dose of spot on.
The Beaphar product is diluted and has dosing information on the package.
Author: Vicki Anderson and Alison Campbell
Articles related to health issues in rats.
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