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Do I Need to Give My Dog Heartworm Medicine Year-Round?

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Here at Blue Lake Animal Hospital, we create innovative care strategies founded on proven veterinary techniques to keep your pet healthy. One of the best methods is to prevent health problems from occurring in the first place, and so we approach your pet’s wellness with their current and future needs in mind. Heartworm medicine is a highly effective way to prevent heartworms, which can cause significant health complications in not only dogs but also cats, ferrets and many other animals. As such, understanding how to properly administer this medication is key to your pet’s long-term wellbeing. 

Can Dogs Develop Heartworms When It’s Cold Out?

You might believe that your pet isn’t at risk for heartworms in the winter. But even though mosquitoes hibernate in the winter, that doesn’t mean that the risk is zero. Mosquitoes are much more resilient than many people realize. While Michigan can have very cold, wet winters, some mosquitoes are known to survive and potentially bite your animal. No matter how small the risk may seem, the best option is to play it safe and give your pet heartworm medicine throughout the year, even in the winter. 

Additionally, heartworms are a common parasite that affects adult dogs just as much as puppies. Since mosquito season varies each year, there’s no way to be completely certain that you’re in the clear, if at all. This is true for other animals at risk of parasitic infection, including indoor cats. 

The Importance of Using Heartworm Prevention Medication All Year

Mosquitoes that carry the heartworm parasite are very widespread, and without taking preventative steps, your pet can catch them relatively easily. Heartworms lead to inflammation of the blood vessels, can block blood flow in the heart and lungs, and potentially cause heart failure. Despite that, the symptoms can be subtle and non-descriptive. Watch out for the following:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Coughing
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Trouble breathing
  • Swollen belly
  • Dark urine
  • Pale gums

Additionally, from a logistics standpoint, heartworm treatment is much more expensive than preventative medication. Heartworms can lead to unprecedented medical costs and unnecessary suffering on your animal’s part. By investing in your pet’s health now, you are protecting their future.  

Preventing Heartworms at Blue Lake Animal Hospital

In order to prevent heartworms, all cats and dogs should take monthly medication starting when they are 8 weeks old. The medications we provide at our veterinary hospital are macrocyclic lactones, which are very safe and highly effective. If your pet ends up infected for any reason, we will provide immediate treatment to quickly solve the problem. 

Talk to a Veterinarian

The bottom line is that dogs and other animals need heartworm medicine year-round. While heartworms may sound scary, they are easy to prevent thanks to modern medicine. Our veterinarians are happy to provide additional information about heartworm prevention and treatment. If you have questions regarding your pet’s specific needs or if you’d like to get a prescription for heartworm medicine, contact Blue Lake Animal Hospital for an appointment. 

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