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How to Prevent Heartworm in Cats

If you are a feline-lover, then you no doubt know the importance of keeping your cat healthy and free of disease. However, you may not fully realize the serious risk that heartworms pose to your pet cat. Heartworm in cats is common, and it is also a threat to dogs and other small mammals. The illness is spread from animal to animal by mosquitoes.

Heartworm in CatsWhen a mosquito feeds on an animal that is infected with heartworms, it, in turn, becomes infected with the heartworm larvae existing in the bloodstream of the animal it bit. The infected mosquito then bites another animal, and thus the disease continues its spread. It only takes one bite from an infected mosquito for your cat to get heartworms, so even felines who only venture outside occasionally are at risk.

Symptoms of heartworm in cats include difficulty breathing, gagging, vomiting, fatigue, and weight loss among others. Since these symptoms often overlap with other common feline health issues, it can be hard to know for sure whether your cat is, in fact, suffering from heartworms. To make matters even more confusing, clinical tests conducted at the veterinarian’s office to test for antigens in the bloodstream are often inconclusive.

Although cats are slightly less susceptible to the disease than dogs, there is no treatment for heartworm in cats as there is for dogs, making the prevention of heartworm in cats especially important, a priority for any pet owner. Although cats will sometimes rid themselves of heartworms on their own, other times, they go into shock and can potentially die from the disease.

Fending off mosquitoes with sprays and other repellents will not be sufficient in preventing your pet from getting heartworm. Although it may help reduce the risk to some degree, it is not the recommended course of action. There are a variety of more effective preventative measures such as topical ointments, chewables, and pills; most of them are sold for the treatment of both cats and dogs. Unfortunately, the six-month injectable treatment for dogs has not been approved for use in felines.

You will probably end up administering the heartworm treatment to your cat on a daily or monthly basis. Of course, in order to ensure utmost effectiveness, you must remember to give it to your pet at the appropriate time and avoid skipping doses, even when you have not seen a mosquito around for weeks. Getting out of the habit of administering the medicine can cause you to forget doses when the mosquitoes do start swarming again, and that could be a costly oversight for your feline friend.

Preventing heartworm in cats is not at all complicated; it simply takes a little know-how, some diligence, and a minimal expense. Once you become aware of the serious health hazards associated with the disease, you will realize that taking steps to prevent it is the only humane thing to do. Although you may not particularly enjoy the hassle of buying and administering medicine to your cat, it is surely but a small sacrifice to make when it comes to the health and vitality of your pet.


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