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Can Dogs Get Heartworm in the Winter?

Heartworm illness can affect dogs in the winter, while the risk may be decreased in colder locations. The parasitic worm that causes heartworm disease is carried by infected mosquitoes. Indoor dogs are also in danger of heartworm infection all year because mosquitoes can enter houses and transfer the parasite. Keep reading to know more about heartworm in dogs and learn when your pup needs medicine for this condition.

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What is Heartworm?

Heartworm disease is a potentially fatal condition that can affect dogs and other animals. It is caused by a parasitic worm known as Dirofilarial immitis that is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. When an infected mosquito bites a dog, it can transfer the immature heartworm larvae into the dog’s bloodstream.

These larvae eventually grow and mature into adult heartworms, which can grow up to a foot long and live in the dog’s heart, lungs, and blood vessels. As the heartworms grow and multiply, they can cause damage to the dog’s heart and lungs.

Signs of Heartworm in Dogs

Lazy dog lying on the bed.

Heartworm illness in dogs can produce a variety of symptoms, and in other situations, dogs may exhibit no indications of infection until the disease has proceeded to an advanced state. The following are the symptoms of heartworm disease in dogs.

  • Coughing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Weight loss
  • Exercise Intolerance
  • Fatigue and lethargy

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Can You Skip Heartworm in Winter?

Senior Golden Retriever Taking his pill on a white background.

The good news is that missing just one heartworm preventive pill does not damage your pet in the long run. Nevertheless, missing doses regularly, such as on a tri-monthly or bi-monthly basis, exposes your pet to elevated risk levels. If you’re prepared to accept that risk for the sake of saving money or other personal reasons, it’s up to you to choose if it’s the best option for you and your pet.

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15 Days of Protection

Golden retriever taking his monthly preventive medicine.

Several heartworm treatments are supposed to provide an additional 15 days of “protection.” That implies that even if you’re 15 days late, you may resume heartworm treatment on your regular timetable. If you skip more than 15 days, it’s preferable to transition your dogs to a new monthly regimen. This means that you should give each pet a heartworm test at their next appointment.

Some veterinarians and pet owners claim that administering heartworm prophylaxis every few months is sufficient to avoid infection. This is particularly effective in locations where instances are uncommon. According to the American Heartworm Association, heartworm larvae can develop into juvenile and adult worms in as little as 51 days.

Monthly heartworm prevention is not a true “preventative” because it only kills the larvae existing in your pet. It doesn’t destroy and repel the heartworm parasite throughout the month. As a result, even if you administer the medication to your dog or cat every other month, the larvae may still grow inside the 51-day window if your pet becomes sick soon after getting their monthly prophylactic dosage. The odds of this happening are substantially reduced in colder states with fewer mosquito populations, but the risk factors remain.

However, skipping heartworm preventive medicine throughout the winter months is not advised. While the danger of heartworm infection may be decreased in some locations during the winter, the illness can still be transferred by infected mosquitos in milder climes or indoor surroundings. It is critical to follow the heartworm preventive program indicated by your veterinarian. See your veterinarian if you have any concerns or questions regarding heartworm prevention for your dog.

What Months Do Dogs Need Heartworm Pills?

A cute little dog with a red heart.

Heartworm medications are required for dogs all year to prevent heartworm infection. Infected mosquitoes spread heartworm disease, and while mosquitoes are less active in the winter months, they might still be present and transfer the illness. Furthermore, many heartworm preventive pills protect against other internal parasites, so providing them year-round helps assure your dog’s optimum protection.

It is critical to follow the heartworm preventive program indicated by your veterinarian. Heartworm prevention medicine should be administered to dogs every month. It is also important to get your dog tested for heartworm disease every year, even if they are on a preventative medicine program, to guarantee early discovery and, if required, treatment.

Do Dogs Need Heartworm Medicine Every Month?

Veterinary gives medicine to a brown dog.

Dogs require monthly heartworm medication to guard against heartworm illness. Even if you live in a cooler region where mosquitoes are less active in the winter, it’s critical to give your dog heartworm medication all year since it only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to spread the parasite. When used as indicated, monthly heartworm prevention medicine is extremely successful at preventing heartworm infection.

If the dog is bitten by an infected mosquito, missing doses or administering medicine seldom might raise the chance of illness. Working with your veterinarian to select the optimal heartworm prevention plan for your dog based on its particular requirements and lifestyle is essential. A specific kind of heartworm preventive medicine or a combination of drugs to guard against other parasites may be recommended by your veterinarian. Frequent heartworm testing is also advised to guarantee early discovery and, if necessary, treatment.

Before beginning heartworm prevention, dogs seven months and older should be tested for heartworms. A dog may seem healthy on the exterior, yet heartworms may be alive and growing on the inside. If a heartworm-positive dog is not tested before beginning a preventative, the dog will stay infected with adult heartworms until it becomes unwell and exhibits symptoms.

Adult heartworms are not killed by heartworm preventives. Giving heartworm preventative to a dog afflicted with adult heartworms can also be dangerous or fatal. If microfilariae are present in the dog’s circulation, the preventative may cause them to die rapidly, resulting in a shock-like response and perhaps death.

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