Feline Heartworm Treatment With Merial

Feline heartworms are 10 inch long worms that live in the cat's heart or pulmonary arteries. Although heartworms are more common in dogs, they pose an equal threat to cats. Cat heartworms are transmitted by infected mosquitoes. Heartworm larvae pass through your cat's skin when an infected mosquito bites her. The larvae mature into adult heartworms and survive in the large blood vessels around the heart. Before we understand the available treatment, it's necessary to know how heartworms affect your cat's health.

Heartworm Related Infection

Feline heartworms cause damage to your cat's upper respiratory system. Cats suffer from HARD or heartworm associated respiratory disease. While some cats exhibit symptoms, others might not.

Symptoms Include:

  • Weight loss
  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Rapid breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Fainting

How Does Merial Treatment Work?

After conducting diagnostic tests such as x-ray and blood tests, the vet will be able to detect heartworm infection in your cat. Merial is known to manufacture Heartgard chewables for cats, a prescription medication that contains ivermectin. Heartgard prevents feline heartworm disease from progressing by destroying the tissue stage of heartworm larvae for one month after the cat is infected.

The chewables are beef flavored and should be administered once a month to prevent heartworms. Heartgard medication should be given regularly and it's best to consult the vet if you have missed the dosage. The chew can be crumbled over cat food and shouldn't be swallowed whole. There are two potencies available for cats under 5lbs. (55mcg) and for cats 6 to 15lbs. (165 mcg).

You have to make sure that the cat ingests all of the medication if it's broken into pieces. It's essential to provide your cat with food at regular intervals on the day of medication. Heartgard chewables reduce the growth of adult heartworms in cats. The medication may be administered to cats already suffering from adult heartworms, to prevent re-infection. Read the package instructions carefully and consult your vet if in doubt. Overdose is dangerous and can lead to blindness, disorientation and tremors.

Adult heartworms are more likely in cats with weakened immune systems. Heartgard is a preventive treatment that may not kill adult heartworms. Adulticides are drugs that are prescribed for elimination of mature heartworms. Anti-inflammatory doses of corticosteroids are also used to treat severe cases of heartworm infection. Research indicates that cats naturally produce antigen to combat heartworm infection. However, the 12 month heartworm preventive medication is always recommended.

Tips for Cat Owners

  • Make sure you dispose of cat feces in an appropriate manner
  • Since the diagnosis of feline heartworms is complex, prevention of the disease is very important
  • Along with medication it's necessary to keep your surroundings free from mosquitoes, ticks and fleas, as they are carriers of infection
  • Routine vaccinations and vet checks are essential to maintain your cat's health.
  • Consider giving your cat supplements and keep her away from infected pets. Remember, a clean environment prevents the spread of infection from pets to humans, especially children.