2 min read
Should I Keep Giving My Dog Heartworm Medication During the Winter?
By Adam Lee-Smith
Published: 12/17/2021, edited: 12/17/2021
Save on pet insurance for your pet
You don't have to choose between your pet and your wallet when it comes to expensive vet visits. Prepare ahead of time for unexpected vet bills by finding the pawfect pet insurance.
Pesky parasites cause our fur-babies plenty of problems. Whether it's fleas, ticks, or worms, parasites are dangerous to dogs and can cause serious illness and even death. One of the most dangerous parasites that affect dogs is heartworms.
Heartworms, also known as Dirofilaria immitis, are parasitic worms that infest a dog's heart, potentially resulting in lung disease, heart disease, and organ failure. Expensive surgery is sometimes required to remove heartworms, and if left untreated, heartworms can be fatal.
According to the American Heartworm Society, heartworms are one of the most common parasites, with 1 in 3 veterinarians considering heartworms to be a "significant" disease problem.
While heartworms are clearly an issue, some pet parents believe there's no need to protect their dogs against heartworms in the winter, as they're less likely to spread. So, are they right? Let's take a look.
Can dogs get heartworm in the winter?
Yes, dogs can get heartworms in the winter. As heartworm larvae spread through mosquito bites, some people believe dogs can't get heartworm in the winter, as mosquitoes are inactive. However, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it's essential you deworm your dog year-round.
One reason is that, unlike other parasites like roundworms, heartworms are just as likely to affect adult dogs as puppies, making it harder to keep the whole pup population protected.
Another reason is the fact that you never know when mosquito season really begins and ends. It's possible that mosquito eggs will hatch earlier or the last mosquitoes will die later than usual. Therefore, it's essential to treat your dog with heartworm medication all year.
The money you'll save on not giving your dog heartworm medication isn't worth the risk this parasite poses to your dog's health. Plus, treating heartworms is expensive, with an approximate average cost of $1,800.
Does my dog need heartworm medicine year-round?
Yes, your dog needs heartworm medicine year-round. Just because mosquitoes may hibernate in the winter doesn't mean they're gone.
And just because you live in a colder state doesn't mean your dog is safe either. Mosquitoes are present in all 50 states, from Florida to Alaska. So, don't be fooled into thinking Fido is safe from mosquitoes just because you live in Minnesota.
Mosquitoes are resilient critters that have survived for millions of years through colder weather than anything Wisconsin can throw at them. That's why it's essential to give your dog a dewormer all year, as you never know when a mosquito might strike.
What are the first signs of heartworm in dogs?
Heartworms may sound scary, but luckily, there are several oral, topical, and injectable dewormers on the market, like Advantage. If your dog does happen to get heartworms, it's crucial to get quick treatment. Here are a few symptoms of heartworms to watch out for just in case:
- Decreased appetite
- Weight loss
- Labored breathing
- Swollen belly
- Pale gums
- Dark, coffee-colored urine
Contact your vet as soon as possible if your dog is showing any of these symptoms.
If you're struggling to budget for your dog's dewormer, consider taking out a wellness plan through Wag!. Wellness add-ons help cover the cost of flea, tick, and worm medication so you can keep Fido's tail wagging year-round.