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Sooo I live in Northern Massachusetts and it’s already reaching 44 degrees here. I have always been told from reputable sources that year round heart worm meds aren’t necessary during the colder winter months. However, yesterday a vet (not my primary one) told me that heart worm meds are required year round. I’m conflicted on what to believe. On one hand I liked to be able to give my pups a 6 month break from the harsh chemicals in the meds. Im hoping to get some insight on what you guys up in the colder states do with your dogs! TIA
 

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I hear the same thing but here in Wi. with several months @ freezing or below I skip about 4 months. It all depends what you have around you to. Woods. water, etc.
 

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If day AND night temps are not above 57 degrees heartworm cannot survive. There is no indication for year round dosing of heartworm meds in cold climates (other than lining a vets pockets). The only reasoning i have heard for year round dosing in cold climates is basically "owners are forgetful and if they don't give the meds year round they will forget to start again in the spring". Nonsense. I am not a forgetful pet owner, are you? Btw, the exact same reasoning is used to justify the instructions of dosing pets every 30 days. The meds actually have been proven to be 100% effective if given every 45 days, but manufactures/ vets think that every 45 days it to "hard" for people to remember, so they recommend every 30 days. How convenient for their pocketbooks!
 

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I'm torn, and live in a similar area. Honestly, with our weird freeze-thaw cycles I've seen mosquitos in the dead of winter when it warms up to 50 degrees. I dose my guys with ivermectin ever 45 days year round. Personal choice. If the winter was in a deep freeze for three months, I might skip a dose.

I give sheep "drench" ivermectin, dosed properly with a 1 cc syringe. With approval of my vet. The price is not a concern.
 

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There are definitely split opinions.

I've gone years where I skip the dead of winter (quite cold here) but in years when I have travel plans to warmer climes (even if it's just for a long weekend) I dose them straight through the winter.

Since heartworm preventative is also what most people rely on for *other* worm prevention, keep in mind that your dog can still pick up other worms regardless of time of year. A few years ago one of my dogs picked up roundworms when she was off Heartgard for the winter. It wasn't a big deal, but if she'd been on Heartgard, it probably wouldn't have happened.
 

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My concern with skipping months over the winter or waiting a full 45 days in between doses is this... what if there are some worms that “breakthrough”, and are not killed off by the previous month’s treatment? If this happens in say, October, and the dog does not get preventative again until March or April, what then? When you wait a full 45 days in between doses, you have very little room for error if you do happen to forget. I discussed the pros and cons with my vet, and we settled on dosing every 37-40 days. I used to stop over the coldest parts of winter, but no longer do. Just personal preference on my part, but I’d feel terrible if my dogs had to suffer through treatment for something that is completely preventable.

That said, when my senior was still with me, I DID stop preventatives for 3 to 4 months over the winter with her. She had other health issues, and I felt reducing chemicals for her had more benefits than the possible risk of contracting heartworm in the dead of winter. My vet agreed with this choice.
 

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I started dosing all winter when I found mosquitos in my basement in February. The weather is to wacky these days to count on it being cold enough all winter. And I travel with him for training so conditions vary.
 

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Year round for sure too many weather changes happening lately. Beside my pet insurance wants him on it year round or they won’t cover in case he gets heart worm. Not sure how that works since they don’t ever see me give him his meds.
 

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I believe you void the guaranty offered by the major prevention manufacturers by not dosing year round -- they'll usually pay for treatment if there's a breakthrough infection, and you purchased 12-months worth from the vet. Otherwise, they won't.
 

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I'm fortunate to have a County mosquito abatement department with a paid scientist who recently told me OUR season for mosquitos carrying heart worm disease is April-June. I'm not a fan of my dog or me ingesting unnecessary chemicals and vaccines, but that's just me. I'm sure many vets, pharmaceuticals companies would disagree even when there are no mosquitos in the Winter. If you do skip a few months it is recommended to have the dog tested for the disease prior to giving the preventative.
 

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Thank you everyone for all the helpful info! Both sides made really great points and now I’m even more unsure of what to do ??
 

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Where did those charts come from? I can tell you Rochester NY is a HW hotspot so the idea that the first dose isnt' given until July would be insane. And July extends down in to West Virginia?
 

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I don't agree with those charts. I live in coastal Virginia and we have mosquitos long before June. I have frequently seen them in January. February and March here.
Same with ticks. Active season is supposed to be April thru October. My girl picked up a tick in both January and February this year.
Climits are changing. Weather patterns of the past no longer exist. As much as don't like the idea of year round treatment I do it. I wouldn't want my dog to have heartworm and have to endure the treatment.
 

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That chart is DEAD WRONG for Louisiana. Any dog owner who gives HW prevention less than year-round here is going to end up with a positive dog eventually. We're the highest rate of HW disease in the US right now -- nearly every dog I pull out of a shelter is positive. We've had 80 degree days in February and nights don't get much colder, so whoever created this chart is goofy.

The American HW Society's advice is year round for the whole "lower 48" now. They're the ones actually funding research into HW, so if you aren't getting your info from them, you might look into how people who claim to "know" actually know. The post above about break-through infections is quite real: the prevention good but it isn't 100%, so if one slips by, it gets mopped up the next month...unless none is given the next month, and then it grows into an adult.

I would advise you to stop looking at dubious sites, and do a risk/benefit calculation here. It's a lot easier to feel good about decisions when they're based on sound principles, not Internet hysteria.

Step 1: What's the risk of year-round HW prevention? Is it real or even quantifiable? Aside from Trifexis, which a tiny number of dogs don't tolerate and have bad reactions to, most HW meds are extremelywell tolerated. Heartguard/Triheart Plus, Advantage Multi, Sentinel, etc. are given to millions of dogs and have been around a long time. So for a source of identifying the perceived risk here, I would look at veterinary sources/FDA documents regarding side effect incidence instead of the "I'm scared of veterinary medicine blogs" or Dogs-Naturally-type stuff where some authors occasionally radically misunderstand statistics. I like to make data-driven decisions, so I would want data supporting a health benefit for only giving it part of the year. If the primary side effects in FDA files are diarrhea/upset stomach....that sets you up to know what it is you're might be avoiding on the months you aren't giving prevention, if your dog were one of the very few to suffer an adverse effect.

Then compare that to your risk.

Step 2: What's your risk? The risk side of the analysis is pretty clear if you make a mistake in "guessing" which months to give it: your dog could get HW disease, and you can estimate the risk in your area on the American Heartworm Society's website. You may decide that's so unlikely you aren't concerned. (It's also unlikely my dog will get bit by a rabid racoon, but since the risk is death by rabies, I vaccinate...YMMV.) So what exactly happens if your dog is one of the unlucky few in your area that get bitten by a mosquito carrying HW larvae? If you test annually, and it's been at least 6-7 months since the bite, you'll catch it and treat it. OTOH, if the bite was less than 6-7 months ago (say 3 months ago, during your "off prevention" period) and you test, you'll get a false negative, and the worms will grow for another year before they get caught in next year's test -- your prevention this year won't kill them, as they're already too big for prevention (unless you maybe use Advantage Multi, but that's a conversation for another day....most people use Heartgard or its generic equivalent).

Now it's time for treatment. I'll assume you want to use the gold standard, fast kill protocol to treat your dog's HW infection. First you'll need 30 days of an extremely high dose of antibiotics that will trash the gut flora. When that's done, your dog will be injected over 2 months with 3 doses of an arsenic-based compound that's quite painful (causing days of lameness and requiring pain meds in most cases after the injection -- and those NSAID pain meds have their own very real risks). Additionally, your dog will be put on 3-4 months of strict crate risk during treatment (no walk, no off-leash pottying, no playing, no excitement at all -- your dog could die if its heart rate gets elevated during treatment and a clump of dead worms breaks off and clogs a major artery). All this misery will cost you upwards of $1500 in many parts of the US. The treatment has a high rate of side effects, including death (I've seen some statistics that as many as 10% of dogs die during treatment).

So seriously, risk/reward? Avoid some diarrhea vs. risk of heartworm disease? I don't get why it's a tough decision, but maybe it's because I have had to see so many dogs with heartworm disease in rescue. It's an awful illness.
 

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That chart is DEAD WRONG for Louisiana. Any dog owner who gives HW prevention less than year-round here is going to end up with a positive dog eventually. We're the highest rate of HW disease in the US right now -- nearly every dog I pull out of a shelter is positive. We've had 80 degree days in February and nights don't get much colder, so whoever created this chart is goofy.
The American HW Society's advice is year round for the whole "lower 48" now. They're the ones actually funding research into HW, so if you aren't getting your info from them, you might look into how people who claim to "know" actually know. The post above about break-through infections is quite real: the prevention good but it isn't 100%, so if one slips by, it gets mopped up the next month...unless none is given the next month, and then it grows into an adult.

I would advise you to stop looking at dubious sites, and do a risk/benefit calculation here. It's a lot easier to feel good about decisions when they're based on sound principles, not Internet hysteria.

Step 1: What's the risk of year-round HW prevention? Is it real or even quantifiable? Aside from Trifexis, which a tiny number of dogs don't tolerate and have bad reactions to, most HW meds are extremelywell tolerated. Heartguard/Triheart Plus, Advantage Multi, Sentinel, etc. are given to millions of dogs and have been around a long time. So for a source of identifying the perceived risk here, I would look at veterinary sources/FDA documents regarding side effect incidence instead of the "I'm scared of veterinary medicine blogs" or Dogs-Naturally-type stuff where some authors occasionally radically misunderstand statistics. I like to make data-driven decisions, so I would want data supporting a health benefit for only giving it part of the year. If the primary side effects in FDA files are diarrhea/upset stomach....that sets you up to know what it is you're might be avoiding on the months you aren't giving prevention, if your dog were one of the very few to suffer an adverse effect.

Then compare that to your risk.

Step 2: What's your risk? The risk side of the analysis is pretty clear if you make a mistake in "guessing" which months to give it: your dog could get HW disease, and you can estimate the risk in your area on the American Heartworm Society's website. You may decide that's so unlikely you aren't concerned. (It's also unlikely my dog will get bit by a rabid racoon, but since the risk is death by rabies, I vaccinate...YMMV.) So what exactly happens if your dog is one of the unlucky few in your area that get bitten by a mosquito carrying HW larvae? If you test annually, and it's been at least 6-7 months since the bite, you'll catch it and treat it. OTOH, if the bite was less than 6-7 months ago (say 3 months ago, during your "off prevention" period) and you test, you'll get a false negative, and the worms will grow for another year before they get caught in next year's test -- your prevention this year won't kill them, as they're already too big for prevention (unless you maybe use Advantage Multi, but that's a conversation for another day....most people use Heartgard or its generic equivalent).



Now it's time for treatment. I'll assume you want to use the gold standard, fast kill protocol to treat your dog's HW infection. First you'll need 30 days of an extremely high dose of antibiotics that will trash the gut flora. When that's done, your dog will be injected over 2 months with 3 doses of an arsenic-based compound that's quite painful (causing days of lameness and requiring pain meds in most cases after the injection -- and those NSAID pain meds have their own very real risks). Additionally, your dog will be put on 3-4 months of strict crate risk during treatment (no walk, no off-leash pottying, no playing, no excitement at all -- your dog could die if its heart rate gets elevated during treatment and a clump of dead worms breaks off and clogs a major artery). All this misery will cost you upwards of $1500 in many parts of the US. The treatment has a high rate of side effects, including death (I've seen some statistics that as many as 10% of dogs die during treatment).



So seriously, risk/reward? Avoid some diarrhea vs. risk of heartworm disease? I don't get why it's a tough decision, but maybe it's because I have had to see so many dogs with heartworm disease in rescue. It's an awful illness.

Alright, i didn’t know all of this and that’s why I posted here. Thanks. I will medicate year round from now on.
 

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I've used Interceptor thru 4 dogs, 2 German Shepherds. I have never seen any adverse reactions.
 

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I had to do year round in FL. I was excited to maybe not do the winter anymore when we moved back north, but all my local vets recommend it year round here now too.

My old dog is a poop eater. It's related to health stuff for her. I try my best to prevent it because it's gross, and she doesn't get it that frequently but she ALWAYS gets one eventually. I call her my poop seeking missile. So I feel like she should take it year round because who knows what else she might be getting with her little poop snack.

So I just give them all HW year round. i try to figure out the ways to limit what I can limit that's safe as far as vaccines and medicines and things, but I just don't know what the right answer is on this and i do NOT want a HW positive dog.

My vet just quit carrying heartguard and said they are only selling Interceptor Plus now because Heartguard wasn't working right anymore.

One thing that worries me about the whole thing is--- the biggest culprit in drug resistant intestinal worms in small ruminants was farmers drenching monthly or on a set schedule without checking fecals before and after. Well that's basically what we do with the dogs for heartworm. Seems like the way to create resistant worms. But I don't know what the answer is to that, so right now I am just doing what my vet tells me to do.:shrug::shrug:
 

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I live in Ny where it is always being recommended all year round or people could stop during the winter. I choose year round because interceptor protects for internal parasites also. The weather can be off to and unpredictable with winters ranging temperature wise. I give the dogs advantage plus for fleas and ticks in addition to interceptor and usually stop advantage plus after the first frost. I have found a tick on Luna - in the middle February.
 
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