Oh my goodness! Mosquitoes are everywhere - heartworm disease is a threat everywhere! It has been found in native domestic and wild dogs in all 50 states (yes, that means Alaska and Hawaii too). There are areas where it is endemic, but it is present in all areas. What scares me is your not the only client your vet has misinformed, oh goodness.
In the PAST, southern California was rather heartworm free - but not anymore. Your vet needs to take some continuing education classes to get the update. Studies have been conducted showing that heartworm disease tends to follow the coyote territories/migration. Think about this - a coyote is infected with heartworm and is bit by a mosquito, now if that mosquito bites your dog he is going to be infected. Think about that pattern - how far do coyotes travel? How far do mosquitoes travel? Year after year, it's going to happen - infecting more and getting closer - and using prevention can keep your dog from being next. Heartworm cases spiked in 2009 in Los Angeles County. We're now in 2011, it's going to become more and more prevalent. Besides, heartgard plus also treats roundworm and hookworm outbreaks, why would your vet not recommend it?
PS. Just curious - are you military that you've moved so much? I know how that goes, hope you're settling in fine either way!
Heartworm preventative here in San Diego is overkill and you need to weigh the chances of your dog getting heartworm against them getting cancer from all these meds and vaccines being shoved down our throats. These things are a godsend in moderation but greedy drug companies and uneducated vets are killing our dogs.
My dogs are inside 95% of the time, eat healthy fresh food, and have blood work once a year. I have never, in 30 years of dog ownership in this area, had a problem or know anyone who has ever had a dog with heartworm. Not only am I heavily involved in the "dog community", but I run a local dog rescue and network with many other rescues. None have reported heartworm cases in Southern California. The cases are all from out-of-state dogs. I'm not saying it doesn't happen... just like people DO get struck by lightning and people DO win the lottery.
Educate yourself. Weigh your options. Don't poison your dog if you don't have to!
I just read about the no heartworm prevention and I just had to reply. Please read mine and Taz's story. I moved to California 1 1/2 years ago and I have a red heeler cattle dog. I was told by the vet here in Cali that heartworm is not prevalent and I could stop the heartworm medicine. I came from Texas so my dog always had his monthly pill. I took him off of it because I hate medicating if I don't have to, well guess what, went to the vet in Feb 2011 and I had bloodwork done and he tested positive, I freaked out and had him retested and yes he was indeed positive for heartworm. I only had him at the beach, Los Angeles, San Diego areas. Thank god he was in Stage 1 with no physical symptoms but he went thru 2 months of brutal hell. He had one shot on the 1st of June and it is arsenic going thru his little body and he had two more shots July 6 & 7. He could not run, play with toys we had to keep him very quiet during this stressful time because a worm can break off in his lungs and create a pulmonary embolism. It was not worth taking my dog off heartworm prevention. I learned a valuable lesson. I love my dog too much to not investigate a little farther. On July 8th he'll get to start playing with his toys again.