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Cats and Heartworm Disease: A story you may not have heard

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Mosquitoes don’t discriminate. They bite you, they bite your cat. But when they sink their teeth into your feline friend, they might cause more than an itch. Mosquitoes can transmit heartworm larvae to cats. If these microscopic larvae settle into the cat’s lungs, they can cause health problems. There is not a cure for feline heartworm disease, but it is 100% preventable.

Do cats really get heartworms?
Heartworm disease is not just a dog problem. A 1990 study in Texas found that 26 percent of cats had contracted heartworms at some point in their lives.

How do mosquitoes transmit heartworms to cats?
Mosquitoes are carriers of heartworm larvae. When a mosquito bites a cat, the larvae enter the cat’s system through the bite wound. When these larvae develop into an adult heartworm, they eventually die and can cause sever heart inflammation that can be fatal. Most larvae do not make it to adulthood. Most die in the cat’s lungs. This irritation leads to heartworm associated respiratory disease (HARD).

My cat doesn’t go outside so I do not need to worry, right?
Wrong! Indoor cats are at a lower risk for heartworm disease but there is not any guarantee a mosquito won’t buzz into your house through an open door or window – and it only takes one bite. A North Carolina study reported that 28 % of the cats diagnosed with heartworm disease were inside only cats, so prevention products are smart to use in indoor cats.

car_hworm2Mosquitoes aren’t as common where I live. Does my cat need prevention?
Yes. Cases of feline heartworm disease have been reported in all 50 states. The occurrence of heartworm disease is markedly lower in some states, but if you are living in lake or coastal regions you need to arm your cat with heartworm prevention.

O.K., so my cat needs heartworm prevention. What does that involve?
The good news is that heartworm prevention products are some of the easiest to use, least expensive and most effective items on the market. Your veterinarian knows all about these products and will help you decided which one is right for you and your cat.

If you have additional questions or concerns about heartworm prevention for your pets, contact Ark today.

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