Protecting your cat from heart worm

Heartworm is a parasite that can infect cats through a number of mechanisms including direct blood contact from fighting and open wounds, and indirect blood transfer from mosquitoes. Heartworm disease can range from a mild infection that causes discomfort to a severe infection which leading to problems breathing. Here are some tips to help your cat protect your cat from heartworm. 

Limit exposure to the disease

The main exposure to heartworm comes from fighting and living outside where mosquitos can bite the cat. Living inside can help keep cats safe and make sure that they do not get exposure as much to heartworm. Neutering your cat can also ensure that they fight less and have less exposure to blood born diseases such as heartworm. Some areas have a higher rate of heartworm than others, so it's also worth educating yourself as to whether this is a severe risk is your location. 

Prophylactic treatments 

Prophylactic treatments including creams and tablets can be given directly to your cat. These treatments help to kill any early stage of the parasite as well as making the cat less attractive to infection. A vet can tell you what treatment might suit your cat and the best ways to give this treatment to your cat. 

Limit progression of the disease

The severest episodes of heartworm occur when the larvae travel through the bloodstream of the cat and infect the lungs and the heart, making breathing and heart operation challenging. Unfortunately there are no approved medications to kill heartworms when they have taken hold within the cat's body. Some vets recommend anti-inflammatories such as prednisone which can hep to managed and minimise inflammation.  Once you suspect that your cat may have late stage heartworm it's important to get vet advice as they may require surgery to physically remove the heartworms at this stage.

Early testing is ideal to ensure that you can make the best choices to limit the effects of heartworm. As early symptoms of heart worm injection are often mild, many vets will take heart worm tests for cats that have not received annual heartworm prophylactic treatment as a matter of course. 

Late stage heartworm infection cats can be very serious and can result in respiratory and cardiac distress. Making all steps to avoid getting heartworm, and getting early vet advice, can ensure that your cat has the best possible outcomes. For more information, talk to a vet clinic.