Tag: heartworm

Feline Heartworm Disease

cat-confusedWhile cats are not natural hosts for heartworms, they are still at risk for contracting them. Just like with dogs, heartworms are contracted through mosquito bites. As we’ve mentioned before, we’re in prime mosquito territory. In areas that have mosquitoes, an incidence of 2-14% exist in cats.

Feline Heartworm Disease causes severe lung disease, heart failure, along with damage to other organs. Adult heartworms can grow to be 12 inches long. Cats will typically only have 1-3 adult worms, but they can have up to 6. It only takes 1-3 adult heartworms to cause the cat to collapse and die.

mosquito-illustration_2092x1660Cats are not natural hosts for heartworms. Their immune system is very reactive against heartworms and this makes it next to impossible to detect microfilaria in an infected cat. Microfilaria is the off-spring of adult heartworms born in the host body and found in the blood stream. If a mosquito bites a dog that has microfilaria in their blood stream, they become infected. The mosquito can then transfer the microfilaria to any cats or dogs that they bite next.

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The tests currently available detect an antigen that is given off by mature female heartworms. It takes heartworms 6 months to mature. This is why with dogs, we recommend doing a heartworm test once they’re at least 6 months of age and repeating test in 6 months if there was a lapse in prevention. However with cats, due to the limited number of heartworms that grow to maturity, they can be difficult to detect with these tests.

While heartworms can be treated in dogs, the medication used (Immiticide) is toxic to cats. Unfortunately at this time, there are no treatments available for heartworm positive cats.

revHowever, there is good news! The disease is 100% preventable. Our recommendation is Revolution. Revolution prevents fleas, roundworms, hookworms and ear mites as well as heartworms. Revolution is a topical preventative instead of an oral, making it easier to administer.  If you apply once every 30 days, your cat will not only be flea-free, but they’ll also be protected against heartworms!

Twelve common symptoms of Feline Heartworm Disease are:5625pt1

  1. Coughing
  2. Weight Loss
  3. Lethargy
  4. Gagging
  5. Vomiting
  6. Collapsing
  7. Lack of Appetite
  8. Abnormal Rapid Breathing (Tachypnea)
  9. Difficulty Breathing
  10. Blindness
  11. Convulsions
  12. Sudden Death

Remember – Mosquitos are everywhere! Just because your cat is strictly indoors only doesn’t mean that they aren’t at risk. Every pet should be on both flea and heartworm preventatives year round.

By: Candace Ivey

Concerned about your canine companion? Read about Double Defense here to learn more about heartworms in dogs & the best way to prevent your pup from them.

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Early Detection- Why Diagnostic Tests are Important for Your Pet(s)

By Tara Sansing

Did you know?

  • If detected early, 75% of common diseases in dogs and 63% of common diseases in cats can be prevented by dietary modifications alone over a one year period.
  • Kidney disease is one of the major causes of illness and death in dogs and cats, but symptoms do not usually appear until 2/3 of kidney function has been lost. If caught early, the animal can live with condition for many years.
  • If a liver problem is detected at an early stage of the disease and is administered proper treatment, the chance of your pet’s recovery is in your favor.
  • Early detection of diabetes is extremely important because an early therapy regimen can be more effective and easier on the animal. Detecting and monitoring diabetes early can also prevent damage to other organs.

Our pets can’t talk and often seem perfectly fine when something is wrong. So how do you know when there is a problem? The answer is early detection.

Early detection is not one test, a series of tests, or just one visit. It is a new way of caring for your pet, just like human medicine allows us to care for ourselves. Medical advancements enable us to diagnose potential diseases before they become a serious issue including heartworm, thyroid disease and intestinal parasites in our pets.

While a physical examination is vital to your pet’s healthcare, there are several conditions that cannot be diagnosed by simply looking, listening and touching. Chemistry and hematology blood tests provide a detailed look at your pet’s health from the inside. Since our pets age almost seven times faster than we do, we recommend that these tests be performed annually.

Here is a breakdown of critical diagnostic tests we recommend to ensure that your pet is as healthy on the inside as he or she appears to be on the outside.

Fecal Exam
We check your pet’s stool once a year for signs of intestinal disease and parasites. We will examine the stool for outward signs of disease such as blood, mucous and abnormal consistency. We’ll also send a sample of your pet’s stool to the lab so that they can test it for the presence of parasites including hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, coccidia and giardia.

Heartworm Test
Each year, we draw a few drops of your pet’s blood so that it can be tested for heartworms. The test can be run in the clinic and only takes 10 minutes to process which means that you can get results right away! Heartworms can be fatal in both cats and dogs and are spread by infected mosquitoes. Even pets that stay indoors are at risk because mosquitoes often slip into the house and can infect unprotected pets. It is important to perform this test annually even if your dog or cat is on heartworm prevention year-round as even one missed dose or late dose of preventative can put them at risk.

Serum Chemistry Panel and Complete Blood Count (CBC)
It is important to perform this test annually to detect and prevent disease as early as possible. These blood tests can tell us if your pet is anemic, fighting infection and whether or not their internal organs are functioning properly. In some cases, treatable diseases such as diabetes can be detected with these tests.

Urinalysis
Like a blood test, a urinalysis can give us an understanding of what is happening on the inside of your pet. A urinalysis once a year can help us to diagnose underlying diseases such as bladder infections, diabetes and renal failure.

These tests will help your pet live a long, healthy life but staying on top of internal disease. Once we have the results of these tests, we will have a better picture of your pet’s internal pet health and we will be well on our way to detecting disease as early as possible.