Jun 23, 2010 @ 04:23 PM — by Ridgewood Veterinary Hospital
Heartworm disease is a risk to our feline companions and could become a "silent killer" or result in a chronic disease without warning. While heartworm disease is a common topic associated with our canine friends and monthly Heartworm preventatives are widely accepted, we believe dogs and cats are equally important in our lives, giving as many hours of unconditional love, support and happiness. The spring and summer months are rapidly approaching and fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes are prevalent in the Northeastern United States. The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) and Heartworm Society have compiled recent research and have established new guidelines for diagnosis and prevention for our feline friends. We urge you to read the following misconceptions regarding Feline Heartworm Disease, and to protect your family felines.
Misconceptions Regarding Feline Heartworm Disease:
1. TRUE OR FALSE - Heartworms only infect dogs.
FALSE - Cats can become infected from a single mosquito bite and that may lead to serious disease.
2. TRUE OR FALSE - Only outdoor cats are at risk.
FALSE - The common house mosquito can bite indoor cats just as likely as outdoor cats and a sleeping cat would be slower to brush away a mosquito.
3. TRUE OR FALSE - Heartworm disease is not a concern in cats.
FALSE - Heartworm disease is called Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease (HARD) due to the prevalence of lung injury from immature worms and adult. worms. Clinical signs are similar to Feline asthma or bronchitis.
4. TRUE OR FALSE - Only adult worms cause damage.
FALSE - Felines are more susceptible to larva (immature worms) causing damage to small blood vessels and airways.
5. TRUE OR FALSE - Heartworm is difficult to diagnose in cats.
FALSE - Serology blood tests, chest x-rays, and sometimes echocardiography aid in the diagnosis of an infected cat with symptoms. A simple blood test is recommended annually, as in dogs.
6. TRUE OR FALSE - Heartworm is not a threat in our area.
FALSE - The map illustrates how Heartworm is widespread, and the numbers have increased each year due to warming trends.
Feline Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease is associated with a multitude of symptoms including anorexia, vomiting, lethargy, weight loss, coughing, respiratory difficulties and sudden death. The importance of prevention is fundamental to the health and longevity of our feline friends, and early detection of the disease can save lives.
At Ridgewood Veterinary Hospital the doctors recommend screening for feline heartworm disease with a blood test, and monthly topical or oral heartworm preventatives year round. We are our pets' advocates and wellness is our goal. Our records indicate that at least one cat in your household is unprotected. Please call today for an appointment so that you and your pets can enjoy long, healthy lives together.