PET HEALTH: Kate Freeman Advises Pet Owners to Celebrate National Heartworm Awareness Month with Trip to Vet

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Heartworm disease is an oftentimes fatal but preventable illness that strikes dogs and cats. To raise awareness about heartworm prevention, April has been dubbed National Heartworm Awareness Month. Kate Freeman, a veterinarian, urges pet owners to adopt preventative measures to keep their animals from developing this disease.

Heartworm disease is a common fear of pet owners. Fortunately, this is an illness that can be prevented by relatively easy measures. In fact, April has been designated as National Heartworm Awareness Month to increase pet owners' understanding of available treatment options. Kate Freeman, a veterinarian, encourages such awareness efforts and urges pet owners to talk with their vets about testing and prevention.

The Wall Street Journal's recently reported that the majority of dogs are not on heartworm prevention, despite it being easy to procure and relatively affordable. This disease is "caused by worms living in the heart and arteries of the lungs" and can eventually lead to "heart failure, and in severe cases, damage to other organs such as the liver and kidneys."

Veterinarians recommend one dose of preventative medication per month, which should be administered on the same day of each month and has to be maintained to be effective. Furthermore, the correct amount of preventative medication has to be given in order for it to work properly. The dosage of this medication is determined by weight, so growing dogs may need a different dose each year or, in the case of puppies, more frequently. Additionally, pet owners are encouraged to have their dogs tested for heartworm disease once per year.

"Heartworm disease is a devastating condition that affects dogs and cats," commented veterinarian Kate Freeman, "but there is something we can do about it—prevention. We used to consider heartworm disease more of a regional problem, but with changes in climate and increase in travel and movement of animals, we are finding heartworm disease to be more of a nationwide problem. Fortunately, the prevention is easy and only requires a monthly treatment to be given to your dog or cat."

As veterinarian Kate Freeman reports, heartworm disease has become more of a widespread issue than an isolated health concern. Through proper prevention and screening, pet owners can help their dogs avoid developing this illness.

Kate Freeman and other vets recommend yearly testing and encourage pet owners to celebrate National Heartworm Awareness Month with a trip to the veterinarian and six month's worth of heartworm prevention. Having this medication on hand will make prevention much more convenient and affordable, as discounts are often given when the medication is sold in bulk. Additionally, pet owners are encouraged to remind themselves to administer heartworm prevention each month with an alarm on their phones or a note on their calendars.


Kate Freeman, DVM, is a third year veterinary resident. Her work with a variety of organizations has allowed her to contribute to the positive development of the veterinary field. Included in this work are international missions to provide assistance at health clinics in rural communities. In addition to this work, Kate Freeman is a veterinarian who provides high quality, accessible care to the animals she treats daily.

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