Heartworm Disease in February??

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:


 iPhone app:

Remindmypet (free)

 Android phone app:

Med Minder (free)