Feline heartworm disease is transmitted to cats through infected mosquito bites. Heartworms that are transmitted to cats develop into mature heartworms from the larval stage and invade the pet's lungs and heart. Since adult heartworms are capable of reproduction, it's necessary to administer preventive heartworm medication to cats living in areas where heartworm infection is present. Certain preventive medicines inhibit the growth of heartworm larvae to adult heartworms and prevent severe heartworm disease. In order to understand the treatment options for pets diagnosed with heartworm disease, it's important to know how heartworms affect the cat and the extent of damage they cause to the body.
Effect of Feline Heartworm Disease
Cats suffering from heartworm disease exhibit weight loss, anorexia and breathing problems. Since the heartworms invade the cells and tissues present in the lungs, the cat will experience asthma like symptoms and tachypnea. Heartworms that migrate to the heart also cause seizures, fainting and sudden death in pets. The diagnosis of feline heartworm disease is complex because the symptoms are often confused with bronchitis. Often, the symptoms of heartworm disease aren't exhibited until the disease is in the advanced stage.
Treatment of Feline Heartworm Disease
Although there isn't any commercial medication to eliminate heartworm disease in cats, the treatment aims to provide supportive care. Adulticides are drugs used to kill adult worms in pets. However adulticides aren't recommended for use in cats as the sudden death of several heartworms can cause heart damage and death. Commercially available medication such as Revolution, Heartgard for cats and Interceptor are only preventive medicines and don't treat cats already suffering from the disease. Most cats that exhibit clinical symptoms are treated with prednisone. This is a cortisone drug that reduces inflammation in the lungs. In addition, cats require bronchodilators to help them breathe easily. Pets that are severely ill also require IV fluids and oxygen therapy to keep them more comfortable.
Cardiovascular Treatment for Feline Heartworm Disease
Some pets require treatment with cardiovascular drugs to control the symptoms of disease. Cats that suffer from fluid in the chest cavity and inadequate blood flow to the heart require additional treatment. Although surgical intervention is sometimes performed to remove heartworms attached to the heart and lungs, surgical complications may arise.
Common Cardiovascular Medications Include:
The drugs prescribed for heart conditions associated with feline heartworm disease vary according to the severity and type of heart problem present. Pet owners should administer medication on time and monitor the pet for any unusual change in behavior. Cats suffering from severe heartworm disease often succumb to the illness due to severe lung and heart damage. However, supportive care and medication will reduce the pain and discomfort caused by the infection. Sick pets should be kept away from healthy cats. The vet will also perform periodic x-rays to determine the progress of heartworm disease.
Since heartworm disease can cause sudden death and severe respiratory problems, pet owners should consider administering monthly preventive medication to cats at risk of contracting the disease.