Heartworm Disease In Cats: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You
Heartworm is found in all 50 states and is arguably one of the worst parasites to affect our pets. While many of us may think of heartworm disease as a “dog problem,” the truth is that cats can also become infected with heartworms. Heartworm disease in cats is especially serious because there is no effective cure.
If your sweet kitty isn’t currently on a year-round parasite prevention protocol, now is the time to start, and here’s why…
Getting To Know Heartworm
Heartworm disease is transmitted to pets via mosquito bite. Once the larvae have entered the bloodstream, they quickly take up residence in the infected animal’s heart or pulmonary arteries.
As the worms mature, they also reproduce, sending tiny microfilaria into the bloodstream. Mosquitos that bite an infected animal may pick up this tiny larvae and go on to infect another animal, thus continuing the cycle.
The Dangers Of Heartworm Disease In Cats
Because cats aren’t the heartworm’s primary host, the presence of small amounts of worms, very young worms, or even dead worms within the body of a cat can trigger a massive immune response, known as Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease or HARD. Symptoms of HARD include:
- Breathing problems
- Weight loss
- Rapid heart rate
Some cats don’t exhibit any symptoms at all, making heartworm disease all the more difficult to detect in our feline friends. Sometimes the first sign of heartworm disease in cats is sudden collapse or death.
Because there is no treatment for heartworm disease in cats, prevention is the only way you can truly protect your cat.
Prevent, Prevent, Prevent
The number one thing you can do to protect your cat from ever becoming infected with heartworm is to start and keep him or her on a year round heartworm preventive medication. Mosquitos can and do find their way inside our homes, so don’t neglect year round protection for the indoor-only kitty in your life.
Another important aspect of prevention is to keep mosquitoes from multiplying near your home. Consider implementing the following mosquito abatement tactics in and around your property:
- Don’t allow water to collect in containers around your home, and dump out any that you find
- Clean water in bird baths on a weekly basis
- Keep rain gutters clear
- Inspect your property for any areas that may collect standing water after a rain shower or sprinkler use
- Keeps pools and hot tubs properly chlorinated, and make sure to cover them when not in use
The health and wellness of your pet is our top priority at Maywood Veterinary Clinic. Don’t hesitate to give us a call with any questions or to start your cat on a heartworm preventive medication.