What You Should Know About Heartworm Disease in Cats
When it comes to protecting pets from heartworms, dogs get most of the attention because they are natural hosts for these dangerous parasites. Cats, however, can still contract heartworms and develop heartworm disease which can be scary. Symptoms of heartworm disease in cats range from no symptoms at all to sudden collapse and death. There are a few things cat owners should know about heartworms and heartworm disease to protect their cats.
How Cats Get Heartworms
Cats get heartworms when they are bit by a mosquito that is carrying heartworm larvae. The larvae can then enter the cat’s bloodstream through the mosquito bite.
The Signs and Symptoms of Heartworm Disease in Cats
Cats with immature worms might experience:
Cats with mature worms might experience the following:
Feline Heartworm Detection and Treatement
Since cats are not natural hosts for heartworms, heartworm larvae do not always reach full, reproductive maturity inside a cat’s circulatory system as they do when living inside a canine host. As a result, heartworms can be more difficult to detect in cats. (However, that doesn’t mean they pose any less of a threat to a cat’s health and wellbeing.) To detect heartworms in cats, veterinarians usually perform two diagnostic tests: an antigen test and an antibody test.
While it is helpful to know if a cat has been infected with heartworms, there is no curative treatment for cats. The medication that is used to treat heartworms in dogs is not safe for felines. However, knowing your cat has heartworms allows a veterinarian to provide supportive care to better address your cat’s symptoms, reduce heartworm-related inflammation, and help keep your cat’s body strong while living with heartworms.
How to Prevent Heartworms in Cats
Since there is no treatment for heartworms in cats, prevention is essential. Heartworms can be prevented with a simple preventative medication received by prescription at the veterinarian’s office.
Parasite Prevention at White Haven Veterinary Hospital
Parasite season is upon us, and at White Haven Veterinary Hospital, our veterinarians place a strong emphasis on parasite prevention to protect pets from heartworms in addition to keeping pets and even their human family members safe from the diseases that parasites like fleas and ticks can carry. To learn more about protecting your pets from parasites like heartworms, fleas, ticks, and intestinal worms, we encourage you to talk with one of our veterinarians during your pet’s next wellness exam.