National Heartworm Awareness Month: Signs, Symptoms, & How To Prevent It
Heartworm is a preventable disease that affects many animals in the United States - in fact, more than a million pets have heartworm. This month, April, is National Heartworm Awareness Month - we 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.
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
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
- Tiredness after moderate/mild activity
- In serious cases, X-Rays will show changes in the heart and lungs.
Symptoms are harder to catch, but can be similar to symptoms 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:
- Decreased activity
- Weight loss
- Difficulty walking
Prevention is the best protection! The best ways to prevent heartworm are:
Taking heartworm medication regularly
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!
If you're spending your time with your pup 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 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:
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.
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!
Whether your pup 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. Click here or the image above for a list of all the things to keep an eye out that you may never have thought of!
Regardless of those pesky critters, it's important to make sure you're having fun with your fur baby, 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!