Issue 7: April 09
Dear Dr. Schelling,

I know about heartworm in dogs, but should I be concerned about heartworm in my cat? Should I be giving my cat a heartworm preventive medicine?



Dear Gary,

For years, no one thought that cats could catch heartworm disease. However, we now know that is not true. Heartworm larvae are carried in mosquitoes, so any cat bitten by an infected mosquito is at risk.
While heartworm infection in cats is not as common as in dogs, cats are often quite ill even if they are only infected with a single worm.

Signs of heartworm infection include gagging, vomiting, and wheezing, and are often confused with other
diseases such as asthma. Diagnosis is a blood test, usually sent to a laboratory.

Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment for cats with heartworm; medications are given to minimize the clinical signs, and preventives to help prevent re-infection. The hope is to keep the cat comfortable until
the worms die, at which point the cat will be cured.

So my bottom line is: Since cats can get this serious disease, and there are no quick easy cures, it is prudent
to discuss a heartworm prevention program with your veterinarian.

For more information, check out my in-depth article, HEARTWORM DISEASE IN CATS.

-Dr. Schelling

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