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National Heartworm Awareness Month: Signs, Symptoms, & How To Prevent It

A black and white photo of a dog, at FurHaven Pet Products

Stay Heartworm Savvy: Recognizing Signs & Preventing Pet Infections

Heartworm is a preventable disease that affects many animals in the United States. April is National Heartworm Awareness Month, so we at FurHaven wanted to cover all the basics and how to prevent heartworm for your furry family members.

What is Heartworm?

Heartworm is a disease caused by parasitic worms called Dirofilaria immitis. Heartworm affects the heart, lungs, and a multitude of other issues in cats, dogs, ferrets, and other animals.
A dog with white legs, tucked in underneath a tan blanket at FurHaven Pet Products

Heartworm affects animals through mosquito bites- it does not spread from animal to animal like fleas. If left untreated, heartworm can cause long lasting damage in your furry friend's heart, lungs, arteries, and can also affect their overall health in general. 

Symptoms of Heartworm

In Dogs


A small black and white dog standing on green and yellow grasses in a sunlit field at FurHaven Pet Products

Luckily, heartworm is much easier to recognize and catch in dogs than it is in cats. Here's a few of the main symptoms of heartworm in dogs:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Coughing
  • Tiredness after moderate/mild activity
  • In serious cases, X-Rays will show changes in the heart and lungs.

In Cats

A gray and black striped cat yelling while sitting next to a leafy bush and other undergrowth outside in the shade, from FurHaven Pet Products

Symptoms are harder to catch, but can be similar to symptoms of heartworm you'd typically see in dogs. Heartworm, however, cannot live in cats as long as it can in dogs. They can typically last up to about three years. Symptoms are typically, unfortunately, quite subtle in cats and can be hard to spot before they become severe. Some symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Decreased activity
  • Weight loss
  • Difficulty walking
  • Fainting
  • Seizures


Prevention is the best protection for your pets against heartworms! The best ways to prevent heartworm are:

Keep Your Pet Up To Date On Heartworm Medication

A small white and brown puppy being given medication by an off-screen veterinarian, while lying on white tile of some kind, from FurHaven Pet Products

Make sure to talk to your vet about this before starting any treatment! Heartworm can live in an animals system for up to 7 years, so it's important to take preventative measures before the opportunity for

Keep up with your prevention medication - even when it isn’t mosquito season.
The American Heartworm Association has a great system for remembering called “Think 12”: Show your love for your pets by giving them 12 months of heartworm prevention and having them tested for heartworm every 12 months.

Be Aware Of Mosquito Breeding Grounds!

A dog making a big splash in a sunlit body of water encircled by trees, at FurHaven Pet Products

If you're spending your time with your pet outside, or even if you have indoor pets, it's important to be aware of micro-climates, such as irrigated fields, ponds, and golf courses. These locations are perfect for mosquitos, and can typically be found during neighborhood walks.

Looking for new places to go, or are you avoiding the dreaded pond on your neighborhood walk?

Check out our list of Easy Sunny Activities for you and your furry friend to get outside and try this Spring!

Need some other ideas for how to have safe and pawsome adventures in the sun and outside? Check out our list on how to Prepare Your Pup For Fun In The Sun!

Clean Up After Your Furry Friend

One of the easiest things you can do is make sure to keep the outside, outside! If you decide to let your furry friend run around outside, make sure to take the time to check them for any bugs and bites when you can! 

It's also important to make sure you're cleaning up after your fur baby after a muddy run, and we make it easy! Check out these essentials for an easy clean up:

Ultra Absorbent Muddy Paws Pet Towel

Our Muddy Paws towel quickly soaks up water, dirt, sand and other messy stuff. Microfiber chenille "fingers" are soft and cozy! Millions of filaments attract and trap liquids and small particles making the Muddy Paws™ Towel & Shammy Rug at least 5x more absorbent than conventional mats and pet towels. 

Quilted Twill Waterproof Bed/Furniture Protector

Protect your precious upholstery from muddy paws! Spring days mean more sun, and more mud. Our Bed and Furniture Protector is super versatile - with a waterproof core and no-skid backing, plus machine washable, you can bring this cover everywhere!

Be Aware Of Spring Poisons!

Whether your pet is outside, or comes back in, make sure to be aware of all the dangers present, especially when it comes to cleanup! Make sure to avoid common poisons for your pet, including poisonous cleaning products. Check out our list of spring poisons that you might not think of, and how to keep your pet safe from them!


Regardless of those pesky critters, it's important to make sure you're having fun with your furry friend, and you're keeping them safe. Make sure to consult with your vet before providing them with any medication, or if you're unsure what the risks are!

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