Heartworm is not spread directly from cat to cat, but via mosquitoes. It may take a number of years for cats to show signs of infestation.
Adult worms cause disease by clogging the heart and major blood vessels. This can lead to a reduction in blood supply to vital organs and subsequent organ dysfunction.
Several medications are available that are highly effective at ridding you pet of Tapeworms. The most common treatment is an oral medication that rids your pet of all Tapeworms within 24 hours. It does nothing to prevent your pet from re-infecting itself. Proper flea control does.
Young worms (microfilariae) tend to block the smaller blood vessels and may cause vascular disease.
a soft, dry, chronic cough
swelling of the abdomen
shortness of breath and reluctance to exercise
lethargy or listlessness
just not doing well.
Unfortunately some cats do not show any signs. In these animals the only sign may be sudden death.
In some cases, heartworm can be diagnosed by a simple blood test however in many cases other tests are required to achieve an accurate diagnosis. Other tests include:
A complete blood count and biochemistry to assess organ function
Chest X-rays (radiographs) to assess the impact of heartworm on the heart and lungs
Heart ultrasound to find the parasite.
These tests are important in determining the severity of heartworm disease and for planning treatment.
We know that heartworm is not considered of high prevalence in cats however heartworm disease can be a life-threatening condition and can be challenging to treat, prevention is vital for the wellbeing of your cat especially if your cat is outdoors. As heartworm has a complex life cycle and is spread by mosquitoes that are ubiquitous in the environment, prevention is recommended through out the warm months of the year (April through November).
At Sherbourne Animal Hospital, we recommend a monthly application of a topical product to ensure your cat is protected against heartworm.
Contact us to discuss a tailored heartworm prevention program for your cat.