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Published: Mar 20, 2012

Each spring, veterinary clinics get calls from frantic owners who are worried because they forgot to give their dogs monthly heartworm preventatives over the winter months. According to the American Heartworm Society, this is cause to worry, since heartworms can affect dogs during all seasons, depending on where you live.

Call your veterinarian to schedule your dog an appointment to test for heartworms approximately seven months after the last dosage of heartworm preventative was given, because that is how old the worms must be to be diagnosed. In the meantime, you should start your canine back on a monthly heartworm preventative medication.

According to VCA Animal Hospitals, heartworm disease in dogs is widespread all throughout the U.S., but is most common along the eastern and Gulf coasts and in the Mississippi River valley. Although there is always a risk, your dog is most at risk when mosquitoes are feeding, since these insects are the carriers of the disease. The average daily temperature must be more than 64 degrees Fahrenheit for a month for mosquitoes to feed, which is why the summer months are particularly high-risk and why the warmer southern states have a higher incidence of heartworm disease.

Look for a heartworm preventative medication that also kills intestinal parasites and prevents fleas and ticks in dogs. Ticks are particularly common during the spring and summer months. Ticks can spread and cause Lyme disease in dogs and humans.