KNOXVILLE (WATE) – April is Heartworm Awareness Month and the Young-Williams Animal Center wants pet owners to know how to protect their pets.
According to the American Heartworm Society, the disease can be fatal to dogs. More than one million dogs currently have the disease. It can also be a serious health concern for cats.
The disease is caused by heartworms, foot-long worms, that can live in a pet’s heart, lungs and associated blood vessels, according to the Young-Williams Animal Center. The illness can cause lung disease, heart failure and other organ damage.
In dogs, heartworms can multiply and affect their quality of life if let untreated. Signs of heartworms in dogs can include a persistent couch, not wanting to exercise, fatigue, loss of appetite and weight loss. If a dog has a swollen belly, it means there is excess fluid in the abdomen, according to Young-Williams.
The disease affects cats differently. Worms do not multiply as much as worms in dogs. The disease can go undiagnosed, but it can lead to heartworm associated respiratory disease (HARD). Symptoms of heartworms in cats include coughing, asthma-like attacks, vomiting, loss of appetite and weight loss. Also, cats can have trouble walking, faint, have seizures or have fluid in the abdomen. However, sudden death or collapse can be the first sign of the disease.
Mosquitoes can help spread the disease in pets when biting an infected animal and then biting another animal afterward. Also, coyotes can be carriers of the disease.
Young Williams to host Fido Fest
The animal center is hosting an event at The Pinncale on April 22. The pet friendly event will have a photo booth, activities for children, food trucks, vendors and live entertainment. The festival is free and will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.