Just wondering your opinion on keeping a dog on hw meds year round. I live in Ohio so don’t need to keep him on it all year but he had a traumatic experience with his hw test last spring, took 3 techs and a muzzle to get a sample. I was thinking I’d spare him the bloodwork next year and just keep him on the meds. I know people in the south have to use meds all year but if I don’t need to, should I give him a break in the cold months?
Hi Jake. I keep my dogs on HW (Sentinel Spectrum) year round because I live in Atlanta, Georgia. Weather is unpredictable in what is supposedly the cooler (winter) months. Last week we had a couple of days below freezing, bird baths frozen, all the winter stuff. Last few days has been in the upper 60’s and a couple of days in the low 70’s. To keep my girls safe I keep them on HW meds all year every 30 days. We’ve been in Georgia for the passed 13 years. Before that we lived in the Northeast (NJ, NY, Conn. and Cape Cod). Because the winters were completely predictable and freezing all winter long I did last HW October and nothing again until May. I think you would have to judge what your weather is. If you really have consistent old time winter weather then I guess you could keep him off for the winter months which I would do just to keep some of these chemicals out of his system and give his system a bit of a break. HW test is just the one time of year. Take some really really choice treats with you to the vet that he absolutely would do anything for. Before they come in to take blood work and while they are chit chatting with you you could just get his attention with the pieces of chicken, liver, whatever you want (no actual store bought treats or kibble….that’s not special enough) and just give him little tiny pieces as the entire process goes on. Eventually he should think of it as a good experience as opposed to the nightmarish type experience he had in the Spring. It’s worth the one time experience to keep him off HW for a few months. Just my opinion.
Let me also add that I take my dogs to the vet for a yearly physical and yearly blood work anyway. I’ve done that with every dog (there have been many…I’m 66 years old). If something is going on with them I want to know sooner rather than later. Trying to catch anything serious that may not be outwardly visible and keep track of all their levels and if anything has changed since the year before so they are accustomed to having the bloodwork draw anyway. Through the years I have found that things were going on that I would never have been aware of if not for the blood work. I was then able to start working with nutrition and supplements more geared to the issue.
- This reply was modified 4 years, 8 months ago by Dori.
fwiw, I’m in Colorado and only heartworm during the summer, and did the same in Minnesota/Wisconsin. I’ve never had an issue
Heartworm medicine is a prescription drug and vets are NOT supposed to prescribe it to dogs that have not been heartworm tested within one year. If your dog is positive and they give you meds and your dog is one of the ones that has a reaction and dies, they would be liable because they didn’t test like they are required to do. They can also lose their license.
BC: Oops! I forgot to mention that in my reply to Jake. Another reason why his dog would need blood work yearly unless he gives HW year round. So glad you posted your comment. I’m so accustomed to the girls getting blood work done yearly that I didn’t consider the repercussions of giving HW seasonally without then checking blood for heart worms. Thanks! Kicking myself for missing that.
Even if they get heartworm prevention year round, vets are supposed to test before renewing the prescription.
I don’t think that’s the case here in OH. My old vet let me sign a waiver that I consistently gave meds thru the hw season and she did not test every year before giving them the meds. The current vet (I moved) tested him this past spring as he was a new patient, now I have the option of seasonal meds and testing in the spring or year round meds and no test. I know that you should not give a hw pos. dog the meds but since I was sure he got his pill every month I was ok with the waiver at the old vet. I kind of got the impression that it was something she did for clients she was sure she could believe/trust, if you know what I mean.
Dori, I agree, I do take the pets to the vet regularly, especially, as C4C says, I have a geriatric cat ward, lol. Five cats, all teens, oldest is 19.
I can’t feed Jake to distract him, they take the animal out of the exam room to do any procedure, biopsy, whatever, even take blood. I guess my main question was, is it ok to keep him on year round or should his body get a break from the chemicals if it’s not necessary ( we have very cold winters, no doubt there). BCNut, I know you’re in Fla and give meds year round but if you lived elsewhere and had the option, would you take the dogs off the meds in the winter months and test every spring?
Yes, I would!! I try to give my dogs the absolute least meds, chemicals, etc as I can.
First off, I do not allow my dogs to be removed from the room for basic procedures-xrays fine, but blood etc, no. What are you doing to my dog that I should not see? : ) I live in the North, and I have gone both ways-giving it every month, and skipping the winter months, resuming in the spring. I test every other year for the most part, or if there is a reason to suspect Lyme, as its a combo test. I am in NY, so we get a true winter still, lol.
Hi Jake. If I had the choice of year round or off HW meds for the winter months I would take the option of giving them a break during the winter. I no longer have that luxury due to living in unpredictable South weather. If I lived where you do I would definitely skip the Winter months and have blood work done in the Spring before it’s time to start HW meds again. At least that’s how I always did it when I lived in the Northeast. I’ve lived here for the past 13 years and give HW monthly. You can find as many people that agree with me as you can people that don’t. The cure for HW is not something I would put any of my girls through.
But please remember that if you are going to skip the Winter months than it really is imperative that you get heart worm test and results done before starting again in the Spring. I agree wholeheartedly with BC. It’s quite dangerous to start HW meds after the Winter months are over without testing first. Very dangerous to give a dog with active heart worms HW preventative meds. The fact that your old vet did it differently did not make it the correct thing to do. Your old vet was not following the correct protocol. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not someone that thinks vets are all knowing and all seeing. Quite the opposite. Some things, like heart worms and their horrendous cure if indeed curable, are just too dangerous to gamble with. imo
It’s best to find out when your mosquito season is, and give a month before it begins, to one month after. And obviously with a yearly test before each season. Wish I could do that down here in Florida! Stupid 80 degree December…
Just a note to Mellisa, having interned at a vets office for several months, animals are removed from the room because some are unruly (some way or another) with their owners present. Some owners are also over-protective or worrisome when their pets are getting worked on, and that negativity can cause the animal to stress. In a reputable practice, nothing goes on that they don’t want you to see, it just keeps things running smoothly. However, it doesn’t hurt anything either way if it’s done in front of the owner or away from the owner as long as all parties (animals, owners, and vets and techs) involved behave appropriately. Most animals just behave better when they’re around strangers, and their mommies and daddies aren’t there to hover over them, protect them, and usually make things worse. Nail trims in particular seem to be the most traumatizing thing for dogs when their owners are around. I found that pretty strange! We trimmed a lot of nails at that clinic, but only a few owners were ever present, otherwise the dogs would scream and fight us. Some still fought even in the back away from their owners. Crazy dogs lol
I’m in NH. I give the last dose in October & start up again in May. This is what my holistic vet recommends. She does yearly heartworm testing.
One of my regular vets tells me I can test every other year.
I am in Florida as well and would love to not have to give those chemicals to my pups every single month, but I do because we have mosquitoes (and ticks and fleas) year round. I agree with the others about getting the test in spring if you do skip a couple months of meds. Maybe work it to where it’s the yearly visit. Oh, on that topic, my vet says the yearly exam is just as important as the vaccines. I tend to agree.
Akari, haha…I would love some of those stupid 80 degree Decembers! I will be visiting family near Tampa next Feb. and hope to see some stupid 80s then, too! Thanks for the comment about taking dogs away from the owners for nail trims, blood draws, etc. That was my reasoning, too. Read that somewhere I guess…
I will give Jake a break over the winter and resume his hw meds this spring and hope he has a better experience with his test next year.
Hi jakes mom. I’m glad you’ve decided to give Jake a break during the winter months. A really good choice when you live in an area with cold winters. Lucky Jake.
So this is the first I have read about foregoing heart worm meds in the winter months. I live in CT so this would apply? Of course our vet never suggests it. We do omit the flea/tick treatments in the colder months, unless we travel to FL as we did for Thanksgiving.
On the Healthy Pets article it says that in most places heart worms can only develop in certain conditions, does anyone know if this is true, and if so, what conditions it needs to be? There are definitely still mosquitos in California, I got bitten the other day.
My understanding is that once you have a couple of weeks of below freezing temps the mosquitos should have died off so there’s no reason to protect the dog from them. I used to live in RI, Kristin, and always stopped the meds in the winter. Should be the same for you “next door” in CT. Last dose in Nov or Dec if Nov was mild, then start again in May.
Lol. I live in California, and in this part of the state we don’t get anything CLOSE to below freezing during the day, and there are only a few nights a year where it gets below freezing. Would you recommend just doing the meds the entire year then?
Even if you get freezes, you still need to give heartworm prevention again one month after the last possible exposure. If you don’t get freezes, you are supposed to be able to watch the temp and stop giving when the temp is consistantly lower than whatever temp the larva need to develop. I can never remember what that temp is supposed to be, because whatever it is, we don’t stay cold enough long enough here. But the info is here on another heartworm med thread, if you want to search for it.
Hi Dog Obsessed. When I lived in California I did the same as I do now living in Georgia and that is I give HW meds year round. I recommend that you give HW year round where you live. There is no guarantee nor consistency in “winter” in California or Southern states to take a chance with HW. Just my opinion.
Alright, thanks! If I do decide to give them consistently, is it still necessary to test yearly?
Edit: Just saw Dori’s reply, thanks!
- This reply was modified 4 years, 8 months ago by Dog_Obsessed.
You should be taking your dog for a yearly physical exam regardless and, yes, at that time they need to do HW test even if you do give HW meds year round. It’s always better to be safe than want to kick yourself for not having done it.
any vets I have been to will require a heartworm test before renewing the HW meds if you have a lapse in monthly treatment. , but if continually on the monthly med, they will renew it without the ktest (and additonal test charge), BUT the holistic vet I consulted recommended giving the HW every 45 days rather than once a month, to lessen the amount of toxiic med given. and she recommended natural methods for flea control and not spinosad (Comfortis) at all, cuz too toxic
Thanks! So it sounds like what I should do is give the meds year round, and test at the physical.
The reason for giving HW meds monthly is because unless you are very vigilant and organized it is very easy to forget when the 45 days is up. Even if you put it on a calendar somewhere it is most likely, with all the craziness that comes along with living your life, that you will forget to check your calendar. You always know when the 1st of the month is. That was the reason for the original recommendation of monthly HW meds. They knew that it was easier for people to remember the 1st of the month. Another reason for the necessity of the yearly HW test is because there is no medication be it for humans or animals that is 100% guaranteed. You do not want to give heart worm meds to a dog that could possibly have an active case of heart worms. As I said, better safe than sorry. HW test is much less expensive than finding out that my dogs have active HW but I chose not to spend the money for the test. Also the test is much less expensive and the meds are much less toxic than the expense of the cure and toxicity of Heart Worm cure.
Absolutely Dog Obsessed!
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