Heartworm disease: Not just for canines

Indoor catsMost pet owners are aware of heartworm disease, the clinical symptoms, and how we can prevent this process from occurring in our four legged canine family members. However, many cat owners still remain unaware of the serious nature of the disease and the huge risk that it presents to their feline companions.  Feline heartworm disease manifests itself differently, although it can be just as life threatening in cats as in dogs.  According to Memorial Cat Hospital in Houston, TX, prevention is simple, and yet many feline owners remain unaware of the importance of monthly prevention in their pets. Unlike dogs, there is no treatment for eliminating heartworm disease in cats, making prevention all the more critical.

Although outdoor cats are at greater risk of being infected, a relatively high percentage of cats considered by their owners to be totally indoor pets also become infected. Overall, the distribution of feline heartworm infection in the United States seems to parallel that of dogs but with lower total numbers. There is no predictable age in cats to become infected with heartworms. Cases have been reported in cats from nine months to 17 years of age, the average being four years at diagnosis.

Heartworms do not need to develop into adults to cause significant disease and illness in cats.  Much of the clinical symptoms seen with Feline Heartworm Disease is caused by the microfilaria migrating through the lung tissue on the way to the cat’s heart.   Heartworm disease in felines affects the cat’s pulmonary system, not the heart, as in canine patients. Newly developing worms and the subsequent death of most of these same worms can result in acute pulmonary inflammation response and lung injury. This initial phase is often misdiagnosed as asthma or allergic bronchitis but in actuality is part of a syndrome now known as Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease (HARD).

Monthly heartworm prevention is a simple, easy step that you as an owner need to take to keep your kitty happy and healthy for life!  If you have additional questions or need more information, please take the time to discuss with your veterinarian today!

To learn more about Feline Heartworm Disease and prevention of this insidious disease in our kitties, please visit The American Heartworm Society. Or, watch this informative video which explains heartworm disease in feline patients very well, and be sure to protect your furry feline friend.

 

No fleas, please!

Fleas are not only a nuisance, but can also carry various disease and they are extremely prevalent in warm, humid environments cautions Dr. Rebecca Marr, DVM, at Owl Creek Veterinary Hospital in Virginia Beach, VA.

Many people believe that if they don’t see any fleas on their pet, then they don’t need to use a flea preventative; however, fleas are stealthy little parasites that have no trouble alluding detection by us while feasting on our poor companions. Their bite may only last a second but can leave a pet with a very strong itching sensation similar to when we get a bee sting. While your pet may have only been bitten once or twice by fleas, it could cause him to itch for hours afterwards depending on how sensitive he or she is to the bite. One female flea may lay thousands of eggs in the environment, leading to a severe infestation that may take months to eliminate from the home. You only see visible evidence of fleas on the pet or around the house if there are already too many of them!

Being blood sucking parasites, fleas have the ability to spread bacterial diseases to animals and humans in the household. They also carry tapeworms which the dog/cat ingests and becomes infected with. The best way to prevent exposure to diseases and tapeworms spread by fleas is to use monthly flea preventative on all of the animals in your household. Currently, there are many very safe and efficacious products flooding the market; everything from an oral pill to topical spot-ons. Make an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss the best option to protect you, your home, and your pet(s).

Submitted by:
Rebecca Marr, DVM
Owl Creek Veterinary Hospital
587 S Birdneck Road
Virginia Beach, VA 23451
(757) 428-4344
owlcreekveterinaryhospital.com

The truth about intestinal worms

Many people have the misconception that if they don’t see worms in their dog or cat’s stool that they don’t need to be dewormed states Dr. Rebecca Marr, DVM, at Owl Creek Veterinary Hospital in Virginia Beach, VA. This is a complete misunderstanding of the threat that intestinal parasites pose to your animal and to your family. Many intestinal worms can cause serious illness for the animal, but also can be transmitted and harmful to people as well. As veterinarians, we have taken an oath to protect public health and it is our job to inform and keep you safe from health risks that your companion animal may pose to you.

There are four main types of intestinal worms that affect dogs and cats: roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms. All of these worms take vital nutrients and protein away from your pet and may cause vomiting and/or diarrhea. Tapeworms are the worm’s owners typically seen around the rectum and are typically caused by ingestion of fleas or from hunting small rodents. Most of these can be prevented by regular use of flea prevention. Roundworms, Hookworms, and Whipworms are common in puppies and kittens, but also can infect adult dogs and cats. These worms live in your pet’s intestines and shed eggs in the feces, thus contaminating the soil, yard, litter box, etc. When your pet licks the dirt, eats grass, or cleans their feet they can accidentally eat these eggs and become infected. The adult form of the worm stays in the intestine and is usually not seen, while eggs are only visible with a microscope.

Roundworms and Hookworms have been known to cause disease in people; children and elderly are at an increased risk. It is therefore very important for the health of your pet and family to keep your pet as worm free as possible. The Companion Animal Parasite Council guidelines (www.capcvet.org) recommend deworming puppies and kittens repeatedly, routine fecal examinations, year round heartworm preventatives, and cleaning up dog poop from the yard daily.

Submitted by:
Rebecca Marr, DVM
Owl Creek Veterinary Hospital
587 S Birdneck Road
Virginia Beach, VA 23451
(757) 428-4344
owlcreekveterinaryhospital.com