April Is National Heartworm Awareness Month: Protect Your Dog From This Silent Killer

Tuesday, April 18, 2023 10:29:44 AM America/Los_Angeles

As the weather warms up and we start spending more time outdoors with our furry companions, it's important to remember that April is National Heartworm Awareness Month. This is a time to educate ourselves about the dangers of heartworm disease in dogs and take steps to protect our pets from this silent killer.

Photo by Joe Caione

What Is Heartworm Disease and Its Symptoms

Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal condition that affects dogs, cats, and other animals. It is caused by a parasitic worm called Dirofilaria immitis that is transmitted by mosquitoes. When an infected mosquito bites a dog, it can pass on the larvae of the heartworm, which then mature into adult worms that live in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels.

One of the scariest things about heartworm disease is that it can be difficult to detect in the early stages. Dogs may not show any symptoms until the disease has progressed, and by that point, it can be much harder to treat. Some of the signs of heartworm disease in dogs include coughing, difficulty breathing, lethargy, and weight loss, but these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions.

How You Can Prevent Heartworm Disease

The good news is that heartworm disease is preventable. There are a number of different preventative options available, including monthly heartworm medications and topical treatments that repel mosquitoes. Your veterinarian can help you choose the best option for your pet based on their age, health, and lifestyle.

In addition to prevention, it's important to have your dog tested regularly for heartworm disease. This typically involves a simple blood test that can be done during a routine check-up. If your dog does test positive for heartworms, there are treatment options available, but they can be expensive and can come with potential side effects. It's much easier and more cost-effective to prevent heartworm disease in the first place.

As a pet owner, it's your responsibility to protect your furry companion from heartworm disease. Make sure you're following your veterinarian's recommendations for preventative care, and be aware of the signs of heartworm disease so you can catch it early if it does occur. By taking these simple steps, you can help keep your dog healthy and happy all year round.

How to Keep Your Dog Safe Indoors

One way to keep your dog safe from heartworm disease is to limit their exposure to mosquitoes by keeping them indoors or in a screened-in area during peak mosquito hours. However, it's also important to provide your dog with regular outdoor exercise and potty breaks.

If you live in an urban area without access to green space for potty breaks, consider using a product like Bark Potty, which is a subscription-based service that delivers fresh, real grass patches to your door for your dog to use as a potty spot. This not only provides your dog with a safe and convenient place to go, but it can also help reduce their exposure to mosquitoes and other outdoor pests.