Tag Archives: heartworm prevention

Cats May Be at Risk for Heartworm Disease

There’s a common misconception that cats are not affected by heartworm disease; we’re here to tell you that is false! So, if felines can get heartworm disease, is it the same as canine heartworms? Is it preventable? Let us help fill you in on the important facts surrounding how heartworm disease can affect our feline family members.

Feline and canine heartworm disease are the same in that they both are caused by a bite from an infected mosquito and can be potentially fatal. The difference is in the nature of the disease, and how it’s detected and diagnosed.

Heartworm Disease in Felines

Unlike dogs, cats are not a natural host for heartworms – which means the larvae will likely have a shorter lifespan. Fortunately, this makes it more difficult for heartworms to affect the larger organs, but can create significant heart, pulmonary artery, and respiratory problems. While it is less likely cats will get heartworm, this doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Studies indicate that a solid approximation would be 10%; so, for every 100 dogs that are heartworm positive, there will be 10 positive cases of feline heartworm.

In the cases feline heartworm, many cats will not show symptoms ultimately making it a difficult disease to detect. Often times, the symptoms – including coughing, vomiting, lethargy, loss of appetite, and even weight loss – mimic those of other common diseases. If your cat is showing any of these symptoms, please contact us immediately.

Here is an incredibly important fact: There are both oral and topical prescriptions that can help PREVENT heartworm disease from occurring; however, there are currently no approved drugs for TREATING heartworm in cats. So, if your cat becomes infected, any treatments to kill adult heartworms can cause incredible health complications for your pet. As the adult worms die and pass through the arteries to the lungs of your cat when attempting heartworm treatment, it can cause failure in the lungs and sudden death of your beloved feline companion.

Talk with us at your next appointment to review the risks for your cat, and to discuss prevention opportunities that may work best for your individual pet. As your trusted partners in pet healthcare, we want to help you ensure that your pet leads the healthiest and happiest life possible!

Heartworm 101

Heartworm preventionAs residents of Arizona, it once seemed that heartworm disease was not a big problem for our furry family members. It was easy for us to assume our furry family members are protected from heartworm disease since mosquitos are typically found in wet climates. However, the fact is that heartworm cases have increased exponentially over the last several years, having been documented in all 50 states – including a record of 397 positive cases right here in Maricopa County in 2018. With this in mind, we wanted to share some information about heartworm disease in order to help you make informed decisions on these important areas that impact the health and wellness of your pet.

What exactly is heartworm disease? Heartworm is a serious parasitic disease found primarily in dogs and cats. In reality, we are talking about actual worms, and potentially many of them (up to several hundred!). The worms can be up to a foot-long and live directly within the heart or the neighboring large blood vessels for years. As heartworm disease advances, it can result in a myriad of health complications for our pets including severe lung disease, heart failure, damage to other organs, and can even be fatal.

How does a pet get heartworm? All it takes is a bite from a mosquito that is carrying the disease. Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell if a mosquito is a carrier of the disease, which is why prevention is the best protection we can give to our pets.

What are the symptoms of heartworm disease? Although there are minimal symptoms in the beginning stages, the longer the infection is present the more likely symptoms will arise. The most common symptoms are coughing, fatigue and decreased appetite. Because symptoms are usually well hidden in the early stages, prevention is key to help avoid the life-long impact that heartworm disease can have on our pets.

How do we prevent heartworm disease? Heartworm prevention is as easy as a monthly oral or topical medication that you can pick up at your next appointment. Heartworm medications cannot prevent infection from occurring but instead treats the disease by clearing out any existing heartworm larvae that were transmitted since their last monthly treatment. We also recommend an annual blood test to help ensure that the preventative is working as expected. With an annual test at our hospital combined with your commitment to providing the monthly preventatives at home, we have the best shot of protecting your pet from this preventable disease.

Why you should incorporate a heartworm preventative into your pet’s wellness plan:
We understand that adding a heartworm preventative can feel like a big step, adding a little bit of expense and time each month. However,
prevention is incredibly easy in comparison to the alternative – once your pet is infected with heartworms, treatment is costly and difficult for both you, and especially, your pet. Treatment includes antibiotics, steroids, preventatives, and monthly injections to kill the adult worms, as well as hospitalization for your pet, and ongoing treatment and testing.

Talk with us at your next appointment for more information on the preventative options for your pet. As always, we’re here to be your trusted partner to help ensure that your pet’s healthcare plan provides them with a happy and healthy life by your side! Find an AZPetVet location near you.