Is it necessary to keep dogs on heartworm medication year-long in Wisconsin?

Hi, friends!

I live in Wisconsin at the tippy top right on the peninsula on Lake Superior.  October-March it is below 60 degrees everyday (Dec-Feb it's commonly negative in temperature), but we do get the occasional "heat stroke" in October or March where it spikes to 60, sometimes 80 degrees for a day.  I've had Gutie on heartworm medication every month, but my vet has suggested that Gutie doesn't need it when it gets below 40 degrees.  She suggested that I just administer Pyrantel for those cold months for hookworms/roundworms since there are no mosquitoes to pass along heartworms.  It also saves me $ if I do that (and it's in liquid form which is much easier to get Gutie to take it).  May-October I would have him on full prevention.  The vet said an annual screening for heartworm when he comes in for his annual shots should be enough?

What are you thoughts?  I don't want to ever put my dog at risk, but I do trust my vet.

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Comment by Chelsea Meredith on June 14, 2016 at 7:03am

Thanks, everyone!  I will keep him on full prevention year-long.

Comment by Beth on June 9, 2016 at 10:06am

I keep them on it year long.  Some mosquitos will breed in human habitats in sheltered areas that might be warmer than the surrounding area, so I'd rather not take the chance.  That said, my vet reminded me when Jack's liver enzymes were up that everything we use --- heartworm meds, flea and tick spot-ons, and so on--- are processed through the liver and some dogs handle it better than others.  Turns out Jack's liver enzymes came down so it was a transient thing, but every decision we make is weighing one set of risks against another.  Personally I trust my vet and tend to follow her advice unless I have really good evidence-based reasons to question her.  But some things she leaves up to me to decide, because the research is mixed. 

Comment by Linda on June 8, 2016 at 9:50pm true!  I have never lived in a more bug infested place in my life.  There was winter, bug season, winter.

Comment by Vicky Hay on June 8, 2016 at 7:27pm

Semi-Demi-Exboyfriend hails from the UP. He described hiking in the forest during an unseasonable warm stretch and seeing accursed mosquitoes hatching out as the mud defrosted. Apparently the things pop right out the instant there's even a chance they can survive.

Never too late to move to Arizona. ;-)

Comment by Anna Morelli on June 8, 2016 at 12:00pm

Sorry about the cat.  First time I've heard that, must be pretty uncommon.

Comment by Linda on June 7, 2016 at 10:45pm

Anna...thank you for that link.  A lot of good info.

My daughter adopted a cat from a rescue that was found as a stray.  She only had him for a short time and one morning he literally just dropped dead.  She took him to the vet and the determination was that he had heartworm. 

At that time I didn't know cats could get heartworm and as far as I know there is no preventative for cats yet on the market.

Comment by Anna Morelli on June 5, 2016 at 10:44pm

Dr.Jean Dodds is one of the most respected authority in the field of dog health and immunology. here is her link to heartworm preventive protocol:

Comment by Linda on June 5, 2016 at 10:55am

I live in the Hudson Valley of NY so we get damn miserable winters here and I am familiar with your winters having lived in the UP of Michigan.  I keep my 2 on heartworm all year for the simple reason we do get those "heat waves" in the middle of winter.  This winter we had warmer temps than we did in May and no snow.  Also each time you take them off the heartworm you have to have them tested before you can begin the meds again.

For me that is the right decision but hopefully those who live closer to you will weigh in on their experience.

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