Brace Up for National Heartworm Awareness Month

National heartworm awareness month 2024

More than one million pets in the United States are affected by heartworms. The parasites pose a serious threat to our furry babies’ lives and can even lead to their deaths. Unfortunately, most pet parents fail to realize the dangers of heartworms. To combat this serious problem and to help raise awareness among pet parents, April has been dedicated as National Heartworm Awareness Month. The month serves as the ideal opportunity to spread the word and make everyone aware of this deadly infection, its symptoms, and prevention.

What Is Heartworm Disease?

Heartworm disease is caused by a parasite called Dirofilaria immitis. It usually affects dogs, cats, and ferrets. Mosquitoes infected with heartworm larvae transmit the disease. They tend to live in the heart and lungs of your pets which may even lead to lung disease, heart failure, and other organ failures.

The Transmission

While living in an infected animal’s body, the adult female heartworms produce baby worms called Microfilaria. The worms circulate in the bloodstream of the animal. When a mosquito bites the animal, it picks up the baby worms. The worms then develop into ‘infective stage’ larvae over 10 to 14 days. When this infected mosquito bites an animal, the larvae are transmitted into the new host’s body through the bite. The larvae will take 6 months to mature and reach the adult state.

Symptoms of Heartworm Disease

Heartworm Symptoms in Dogs:

  • Weight loss
  • Mild persistent cough
  • Decreased appetite
  • Reluctant to exercise
  • Fatigue

Heartworm Symptoms in Cats:

  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting (With food or blood)
  • Diarrhea
  • Increase in heart rates
  • Gagging
  • Weight loss
  • Wheezing
  • Excessive cough
  • Difficulty in breathing


The best way to prevent heartworms in dogs and cats is by administering heartworm preventives. These preventives often include additional antiparasitics to address a variety of parasites, such as internal worms, fleas, and ticks. While choosing a heartworm preventive, we’d advise you to check with your vet to understand your pet’s exact requirements.

Some of the effective antiparasitics that help prevent heartworm disease are:

Wrapping Up

While National Heartworm Awareness Month may not be a time for a typical celebration, it does have a lot of importance to pet parents. Spreading awareness of the disease will help them recognize the condition and administer preventives to protect their canines. A true celebration of this event will only be possible upon eradicating this deadly disease from our pets’ lives.

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