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woodcutter's avatar

For dog owners Re: Heartguard. Do you discontinue use in the winter when there are no mosquitos then start back in the spring?

Asked by woodcutter (16294points) January 21st, 2011

Our vet suggests we go all year with this. We are in the US Southwest with basically mild winters but I haven’t seen a mosquito since maybe October. Doesn’t mean they are not around but I’m not seeing any. He says all it takes is one that is a carrier to bite and we open up our dog to heart worms. Heart worm treatment is miserable for a dog and is always extremely expensive. Some dog’s don’t survive this treatment so I don’t want to take the chance.
There is the downside of this med as it is a pesticide you are putting in your dog and does have some effect on the immune system.
It would be good to know if there are alternative treatments for prevention that really work. Heart guard works for sure.

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14 Answers

missingbite's avatar

Keep your dog on Heartguard. My Dalmatian went through heart worms when he was about 3 because of this exact thing. No medication in the winter months. We were lucky and the treatment worked for him. We just had to put him down at the ripe old age of 16 and a half.

We got bad info from our original vet. He said, an indoor dog in the winter didn’t need to be on Heartguard. He was wrong!

I’m not sure of any other medication, or alternative treatments, but I wouldn’t take the chance.

Meego's avatar

It really is up to you, the vet always knows. But my vet said I should have my dogs on flea medication 12 months of the year. I have had my dogs well over 2yrs with only about 6 months of that on the flea pills. They have never had fleas… knock on wood if they get fleas I will put them on the medication. I had issue with the medication and the possible side effects. Similar to your heart-guard issue. I think it’s up to you, if you feel you don’t want to keep your animal 12 months of the year on the pill then don’t but also you know the possibility of what could happen. Also my dogs are only on a current 6 month plan of heart guard and if and when anytime my dogs go to the vet they always get tested for heart-worm. That is an option as well, frequent testing.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Heart-gard will kill any worm larvae, hook worm, pin worm, etc. We have our dogs on 12 month a year heart worm meds and have never had a positive on worms of any kind.

marinelife's avatar

Heartworms can be picked up from the soil. You need to have your dog on medication year round especially in the Southwest.

Blueroses's avatar

Heartworms do require a mosquito for a vector to carry and transfer the microfilaria. They are not in the soil but other common parasites are and Heartgard kills those also.

If you don’t have a hard freeze in the winter, year-round treatment is a good idea. Your vet is aware of your regional risks and doesn’t merely want to sell the meds.

geeky_mama's avatar

Agree with @Blueroses. I live in MN – the great northern tundra where we get a hard freeze. (Hello, we can drive our cars on the’s THAT cold. -33F this morning as I drove the kids to school.)
Our vet says it’s fine to take our dogs off heartworm treatment during the winter months..but tells her “Snowbird” dog owners (the ones that like to spend winter where it’s AZ or TX) to keep treating their pets year round.

woodcutter's avatar

thank you all. I plan on keeping both dogs on the HG. It’s easy to to get them to take and isn’t really expensive at all but was wondering if there were different things for this. I think it is the Frontline ampules combined with the HG that gets it costing alot. Not sure the FL is all that effective. Our Lab/ Pyrenees still gets ticks. Maybe it’s because she is just so sweet it overrides the stuff.

anartist's avatar

If relevant, I have a cat. I discontinue her meds from first frost that sticks until March.
Hers cover fleas and may cover mosquitoes. Mosquitoes are a real problem in my garden.

YARNLADY's avatar

Year round, per our vets instructions.

Blueroses's avatar

@woodcutter Frontline is very pricy. If you are giving Heartgard year-round (The brand Tri-heart Plus is exactly the same medication much cheaper) check out using Proticall for ticks and fleas instead of Frontline. I’ve used it for 10 years, once monthly during the season and never have seen a tick on my dogs even when picking them off myself.
In our vet practice, I only saw one dog have an adverse skin reaction and that dog was allergic to everything under the sun.

woodcutter's avatar

@Blueroses We have an excellent vet and he recommends the Frontline. He has never steered us astray with anything but the stuff is pricey, We have 3 indoor cats and one outdoor (mainly) cat. That’s a lot of Frontline to hand out each month. Also 2 large dogs. About 70 bucks for a 6 pack at walmart. He suggested shaving a patch of hair off so it would get all the way into the skin but it would look bad I think, a permanent missing spot. I’m looking into alternatives to FL to try. I’ll check to see if Pet Care Rx has it. TY

Blueroses's avatar

@woodcutter Unfortunately, if you have cats to treat, Frontline is the best product for them. There are some herbal alternatives but I’ve no idea how effective they are. Foster and Smith has the lowest price I’ve found for feline Frontline. It was too expensive for our office to keep in stock for the few clients using it so I did compare prices at a lot of online stores.
Shaving shouldn’t be necessary if you can part the fur enough to see skin.

woodcutter's avatar

@Blueroses part of the problem is our pup (75 lbs) will see me with that green applicator and run away and try to hide. The male could care less and he’s the one who seems impervious to bugs. It’s strange she does this, like it doesn’t hurt, so she will lay on her side as if attempting to block me so I spread the hair and put the stuff on. After she stands back up the wet spot is somewhere on the side of her shoulder instead of dead center on top. Her coat must shift to one side tricking me into missing then she wants outside where she rolls on the ground making a wet dirt spot there so it’s hard to tell if it’s doing any good. Thats the only weird thing about her that makes me crazy. Ear drops too, thats another circus altogether.

Meego's avatar

@woodcutter Take charge! Don’t think about feeling anything at the time just do. Sounds like you have it down until the letting the dog outside’ve basically made that your dogs routine cause you never stopped the unwanted behavior probably if you want to stop the behavior now it will be for your dog similar to a human quitting any unwanted behavior..a bit difficult. So you can either work together and help the dog through the behavior you want or just keep it the same. Just some friendly advice. :))

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