Why Cat Heartworm Prevention Is Necessary in Mishawaka, IN
There are many diseases that you need to protect your cat from in Mishawaka, IN. Rabies, distemper, Lyme disease, and more. One such disease is heartworms. Heartworms are serious and can be fatal in cats. They are foot-long worms that thrive in the heart, lungs, and associated blood vessels of their affected hosts. Heartworms can cause respiratory issues, lung disease, damage to other organs, and heart failure.
What Species Can Be Affected by Heartworms?
Heartworms in Mishawaka, IN affect several species of mammals including dogs, cats, ferrets, coyotes and foxes. There have also been known cases of heartworms in humans, though they are rare.
Dogs are different than cats when it comes to heartworms because they are considered a “natural” host. This means the worms can survive in the dog’s body until they are fully grown and most destructive. Dogs are also known to have hundreds of worms in their bodies at one time.
Cats on the other hand are considered “atypical” hosts. This means that most worms will not survive until adulthood in an affected cat. If a cat does have adult heartworms, there are usually just a few rather than the hundreds in dogs.
Even though there are fewer actual worms, they can be just as deadly for your small cat. Unlike in dogs, there is no medication to treat heartworms in cats so a preventative is the best way to protect your feline friend.
How Are Heartworms Spread?
Heartworms make their way from mammal to mammal through everyone’s favorite insect, the mosquito. Adult heartworms produce tiny baby worms called microfilaria that live in the blood stream of the host.
When the host animal is bitten by a mosquito, those microfilariae can be sucked up with the blood and then transmitted into the next animal that the mosquito bites.
These tiny worms mature into what is called the “infective stage” at 10 to 14 days. After they’ve entered the new host, it will take around 6 months for the larvae to grow into adult heartworms. Then, they can live for 5 to 7 years in dogs or 2 to 3 years in cats.
How Do You Know if Your Kitty Has Heartworm Disease?
For many cats in Mishawaka, IN, the symptoms are subtle or non-existent especially in the early stages of the disease. Others will have dramatic symptoms. I mean, we are talking about cats after all.
Some of the more noticeable symptoms would be vomiting, lack of appetite, weight loss, asthma-like attacks, or coughing. Your cat may also have seizures, faint, or experience difficulty walking. There are cases where your cat will show no signs of illness and suddenly die from heartworms.
How is My Cat Tested for Heartworm Disease?
Cat heartworm prevention requires a simple test to start. In order to test for heartworms, a blood sample will need to be taken by your vet. They will be looking for heartworm proteins to show up in the blood to confirm whether they are present or not. If the proteins are detected, additional tests may be requested.
Some vets may also use x-rays or an ultrasound to look for heartworms. Your cat will need to be tested before being put on a preventative. Cat heartworm preventative medication kills any heartworm larvae that have infected your cat’s body in the last 30 days in Mishawaka, IN. The dosage is monthly and is typically an oral medication.
Does My Cat Really Need Heartworm Prevention Medication?
You might be asking yourself, if cats are atypical hosts and it’s not as common for heartworms to grow into adulthood in a cat’s body, do I really need to put my cat on preventative medication?
Even if your cat is indoors, they can be exposed to mosquitos in Mishawaka, IN. You should talk to your veterinarian about how prevalent heartworms are in your area. Some regions have a higher rate of exposure.
For example, the southeastern states have more cases per year because they have a higher number of mosquitos. Stray or neglected dogs can also be a problem when it comes to heartworms. They can easily come in contact with infected wildlife like coyotes or foxes and the disease will spread. Heartworms have been detected in all 50 states, so there is nowhere where the risk factor is zero.
Cat heartworm prevention is something to keep in mind. It’s important to put your cat on a preventative to keep them safe from a disease that could ultimately lead to their death. Since there is no cure, your cat will have to live with the worms and you will only be able to try and make them more comfortable.
The American Heartworm Society recommends to have your cat screened every 12 months and to take a monthly preventative. You would also be doing your part to keep the disease from spreading to other animals as well.
What Do You Need to Do If Your Cat Does Have Heartworms?
If your cat does get heartworms in Mishawaka, IN, you can discuss with your vet what the best management plan for your situation is. The goal is to keep them as comfortable and pain free as possible.
If there are few to no symptoms, the plan might be to simply monitor your cat and have them come in for regular check ups and x-rays to see how the heartworms are progressing. If the disease is more severe, your cat may need to receive intravenous fluids or some additional medication that would treat respiratory and heart problems.
While cats in Mishawaka, IN are less likely to get heartworms and have them grow into mature adults compared to dogs, they are still susceptible, and a cat heartworm preventative is the best way to protect them. Without a way to treat heartworms once they’ve infected your cat, it will be up to their body to try and fight them off.
In order to keep your cat its most safe and healthy self in Mishawaka, IN, you should provide them with the monthly cat heartworm preventative medication. Talk to your vet about which one they would recommend for your cat. Kittens as young as 6-8 weeks old can start taking the medication, so you can start as soon as you bring your pet home.