What do I do for a cat with heartworms?

My female dog is 5 years old. Recently, she would be okay and then get really hyper and fall over. I took her to the vet and they did blood work and they say she has heart worms. I've been giving her 81 mg. of Aspirin and after 2 weeks started giving her Heartguard. After she rolls over and starts screaming all I do is lift her straight up and it's like nothing happened. She has a brother from the same litter and he is always with her and he does not show any signs.

  • Vetinfo

    By: Kara McCarty El Segundo, CA

    Replied on 04/19/2011

    Heartworm disease is contracted by being bitten by an infected mosquito. Not all animals bitten by an infected mosquito will contract the disease but many will. Heartworm disease in cats is very difficult to treat. There are no approved adulticide medications for cats, there are only preventatives. One of the recommended therapies is using aspirin or steroids to prevent inflammation secondary to dying heartworms and their antigens. Some veterinarians prefer aspirin as they feel it also prevents clots from forming which can cause a blockage in a blood vessel. Other veterinarians prefer steroids as they are better at reducing inflammation in the lungs and may help your cat breathe easier. Theophylline (a bronchodilator) is used to open airways as well. Some veterinarians use the antibiotic Doxycycline to help reduce the antigen stimulation, and thus the inflammation, from the heartworms. Heartguard use is controversial as it helps to prevent further infection but it may also cause the adult worms to die more quickly at the same time and cause a larger inflammatory response. Try and keep your cat quiet, use the medications your veterinarian has prescribed as she knows her case the best. Make sure you follow up with rechecks to monitor her infection and allow you to be aware of any complications or changes in her condition. Kara, DVM

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