When it comes to heartworm disease, many pet owners think about protecting their dogs, but fail to protect their feline companions. This can have dangerous consequences because feline heartworm disease is sometimes fatal and the symptoms aren’t always obvious.
Unlike heartworm disease in dogs, feline heartworm disease primarily affects the lungs. Heartworm larvae can cause inflammation and lesions in the lungs, causing what veterinarians refer to as Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease (HARD). Heartworm damage in the lungs is often serious and sometimes irreversible.
What are the symptoms of feline heartworm disease?
Symptoms of heartworm disease in cats include:
- Appetite loss
Many of these symptoms are similar to those present with feline asthma, bronchitis, and other diseases, so feline heartworm disease sometimes difficult to diagnose. A definitive diagnosis is reached through physical examination, radiographs, blood tests, and echocardiograms. Left untreated, cats suffering from heartworm disease can experience impaired breathing, pulmonary vessel damage, heart or lung failure, and sudden death.
Are all cats at risk for contracting heartworm disease?
Both indoor and outdoor felines of any age in any region can contract heartworm disease, but it’s most prevalent in areas with a dense mosquito population. Heartworm disease is most dangerous in kittens and elderly cats.
How can feline heartworm disease be prevented?
Giving your cat a heartworm prevention medication, like Heartgard or Revolution, all year long is the best way to ensure your kitty is protected from this dangerous disease. These medications require a prescription, so speak with a veterinarian about the best feline heartworm preventive for your individual pet.