According to the American Heartworm Society (AHS), its “every-three-years survey, which tracks heartworm incidence from data supplied by more than 5,000 veterinary clinics, has documented cases in every state.” [Note: this may, and probably does, mean that two or three cases, but not necessarily more, have been reported by these drug-pushing clinics, which represent only a fraction of U.S. veterinarians. The trick is that they don't say where the dogs came from. Colorado received a lot of heartworm-positive dogs after Hurricane Katrina, but the actual rate of heartworm infection in the state is less than 3% and has not changed significantly in decades.]
The article (click here to read it in USA Today) goes on to say, “There was a time when vets in areas where mosquitoes disappear for six or more months a year — places such as New England, the mountains of the West, and the Northern tier states, for example — recommended six-month, summer-only schedules of preventive meds. Some of them still do (and some have shifted to nine-month protocols).
But AHS says that less than year-round prevention everywhere is bad because:
- Many areas are experiencing warm weather earlier in spring and later in fall than in years past, meaning mosquitoes can emerge unexpectedly.
- There are warm micro-climates that support mosquitoes even in cold regions.
- Owners increasingly take their pets on vacation, often to areas where mosquitoes are active.”
Those are persuasive, if greatly exaggerated, arguments. So even vets and pet guardians in areas where there are no mosquitoes for large chunks of the year are now buying into the fear and being bullied into year-round medication for all dogs and cats.
As Charlie Brown would say, “Good Grief!”
Not only should pets NOT be given unnecessary medications, but the rapidly developing issue of drug resistance should make us even more reluctant to over-use heartworm preventatives. The more animals given a drug, the faster that drug will become ineffective as resistance spreads throughout the mosquito population. Judicious use of drugs only when warranted is the better way to handle this problem.