DogMedicalApril is Heartworm Prevention Month. In the spring, ice on ponds recedes, allowing small frogs and mosquitoes to move in. As aggravating as “skeeters” are to humans, they pose a real health risk to dogs and on rare occasions cats. Veterinarians recommend having dogs tested for heartworms, which actually are worms that migrate to a dog’s heart after a bite from an infected mosquito.

Heartworm preventatives come in several forms and some parasite repellants used for flea control also repel ticks and mosquitoes. Ask your vet about the best product for your dog. Depending on where you live you may need to use a preventative year round and your cats may also be at risk in some areas. The incidence of heartworm is especially high in the South—see this map for more detail.

Since May is Preventive Healthcare Month, preparing for warm weather with a heartworm screening will put you and your dog ahead of the game. Treating Heartworms is not as simple or inexpensive as preventing them. Many shelters and rescues are faced with dogs who are already infected. Some groups have the resources to treat these animals before adoption and some help educate you about what is involved should you choose to adopt an animal with a positive heartworm test.

If you’d like to help a rescue group near you save a treatable dog consider donating a heartworm treatment at the vet of your choice. Ask your vet how you can do this for one of your local groups. Find a group in need here at with our shelter finder.