April is Heartworm Awareness Month! Heartworm infestations are extremely dangerous for pets. In fact, left untreated, they can be deadly. Heartworm infestations are more common in dogs, but cats can also be afflicted by these deadly parasites. A Portland, OR vet discusses heartworms in kitties below.
Heartworms aren’t spread directly from one pet to another. They are actually transmitted by mosquitos. There are actually over 30 types of mosquitos that can transmit heartworms. Because mosquitos are everywhere in North America, pets can get infected anywhere, and at almost any time. After the initial infection, it takes the worms about six months to reach their adult size. Once they are fully grown, they will start interfering with your furry friend’s vital organs.
Heartworm infestations don’t affect cats exactly the same way they do dogs. This is because of the differences in their body shape and composition. While dogs are an ideal host for heartworms, cats’ bodies don’t accommodate them. As a result, heartworms usually die in cats before they reach their full size. It’s rare to find more than a few adult worms in a cat. However, infestations are still extremely dangerous to our feline pals. Even a few heartworms can cause permanent damage to a cat’s vital organs. They can also move around a kitty’s body, which can cause a slew of problems.
Some common signs of heartworm infestations include vomiting, coughing, weight loss, lack of appetite, and trouble breathing. Fatigue is another symptom, though that is a bit harder to identify in a pet that can sleep up to 20 hours a day. Heartworms can also cause kitties to faint and/or have seizures. Occasionally, they cause sudden death, even in cats that appear healthy. Call your vet right away if you notice anything amiss with your feline pal.
As you may know, heartworms infestations can be treated in dogs. Unfortunately, the medication used to treat dogs can’t be used on our feline pals. However, cats often can overcome heartworm infestations with proper veterinary care. Ask your vet for more information.
Keeping up with Fluffy’s parasite control products is very important! Cats should be on heartworm prevention year round, starting from the time they are kittens. Ask your vet for more information.
Please contact us, your Portland, OR vet clinic, for all of your pet’s veterinary care needs. We’re here to help!