Heartworm is well known in dogs for causing disease which can greatly reduce lifespan due to congestive heart failure. Preventative medication is well known and used in our dogs and we all know the grave risks our ‘best friends’ face if heartworm prevention is not used, especially in the hot, humid, mosquito friendly climate of Queensland.
Little known, however, is that heartworm can cause the same life-threatening disease in our feline friends and the incidence of this occurring is on the rise. Because the cat is not the usual host of this parasite, infection is quite rare compared to in the dog. This is perhaps why we have remained apathetic to this fact, but in reality heartworm disease is usually an unforgiving and rapidly fatal disease in our pet felines.
Heartworm prevention is available for cats:
- ADVOCATE (spot on) – also covers fleas, worms (not tapeworms) and ear mites – applied monthly for life.
- REVOLUTION (spot on) – also covers fleas, ear mites and worms (not tapeworms) and ear mites – applied monthly for life.
- MILBEMAX (Tablet)– given monthly for life
Why Prevention is Important:
- A single adult heartworm can cause considerable disease in cats (compared with dogs where several adult worms are usually involved)
- Heartworm is very difficult to diagnose in cats – there are no test for cats as in dogs and x-ray findings are not consistent
- Once infected, heartworm can rapidly cause disease and death in cats
- There is no treatment for heartworm in cats
- Heartworm may be responsible for chronic, non-specific illnesses in cats which eventually result in death for unknown reasons
- Clinical signs in cats can vary from a persistent cough, fever and lethargy, to sudden breathing difficulty. The most severe clinical sign can simply be sudden unexplained death
- Heartworm disease is cats will dramatically reduce wellbeing and lifespan
- Even indoor only cats are susceptible, as we know that occasionally mosquitoes can still enter through doorways or windows. It only takes one bite to create infection and disease in our cats.