By dr. Norette L. Underwood
Yes, Cats Do Get Heartworms!
Heartworm disease is very prevalent in the canine population. We have know for years that it has been a problem for dogs. In the last 20 years it has become more widely recognized in cats. In all Heartworm infected pets, the Mosquito is the vector that transmits this disease from one animal to another.
Pathology from Heartworm infection in the dog occurs primarily from the 12-16 inch adult Heartworms causing heart disease due to mechanical obstruction of blood flow in the heart and pulmonary vessels. The pathology in a cat from Heartworm disease is very different from the dog. In the feline, the larvae(immature life stage) of Heartworms migrate to the blood vessels in the lungs. This causes inflammation in the lungs, resulting in more respiratory signs that cardiac signs in a cat. The damage to the lung in cats infected with feline Heartworm is so specific that pathologists describe it as Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease or “HARD”.
As a result of Heartworm disease being a relatively less publicized feline issue, the general cat owner may not even be aware that cats can acquire Heartworm Disease. Most canine owners understand the importance of regular Heartworm prevention. Cats also need regular Heartworm prevention.
There is a safe effective Heartworm treatment for dogs, but not for cats. That is why it is so important to put on monthly preventative. The American Heartworm Society and The Heartworm Symposium predict that 10% of all new Heartworm cases will be in the feline. They also have shown that 25% of Heartworm infected cats reside exclusively indoors.
Testing cats for Heartworms is still under debate. Consult your veterinarian for the best Heartworm protocol for your feline furry friend.
Cats just like dogs need Heartworm Prevention administered all year long for the entire length of their life.
If you have questions about feline Heartworm disease please contact Dr. Underwood of Trumann Animal Clinic and Best Friends Mobile at firstname.lastname@example.org