Skiing, sledding, snowboarding, drinking hot chocolate by a roaring open fire – all wonderful things to do in the winter. Unless you live in the Triangle…. Yes, we have once again had a warm ‘winter’ as we tend to have seemingly every other year. This also brings out the inevitable question with my clients – should I continue heartworm prevention year-round? Can it be stopped in the winter?
My first answer is to ask a question – when is winter in North Carolina? I truly don’t know! Looking at the high temperatures in February for the last few years in Durham (81o, 81o, 73o, 72o), I certainly have no clue. We just can’t predict when it will get cold, and stay cold. The temperature must be below 57 o F to stop mosquito activity (yes, heartworm disease is spread by mosquitoes). All it takes is a few warm days for them to come back out!
My second answer to the original question is not based on science, but based on human nature. And by that, I mean my behavior. I remember to do things when I do them consistently and usually with a few reminders to boot. If I stop for a few months, I have a high tendency to forget to restart. I know my clients are the same way, as I get several dozen folks every summer (yes, several months into mosquito season) that come in with a pale look on their faces and tell me they forgot to restart their heartworm prevention.
So what do I recommend? Monthly heartworm prevention, every month, no question. It is always easier to prevent disease than to treat it.
Here are a few tools and information to help:
Email reminders (works for any medication, not just heartworm prevention):
Information on heartworm disease:
Android phone app:
Med Minder (free)