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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Frontline Plus For Cats - Heartworm - Cats at Risk

The organism responsible is designed to live its live within two host organisms. Born inside a dog's heart the microfilarie worms live in the dogs bloodstream before being taken up by a feeding mosquito. Inside a female mosquito the worms develop further into larval worms before being deposited into another canine as the mosquito feeds. Inside the canine these larvae will grow into adult worms, settle in the animal's heart and breed so starting the whole cycle again.

Heartworms are ideally suited to live within the mosquito and their canine hosts causing serious illness and often sudden death in domestic dogs and wild canines such as coyotes, wolves and foxes. Recognized for over a century, huge advances have been made in the treatment and prevention of the disease in dogs. Nowadays many responsible pet owners give regular heartworm medicine to destroy any larval worms passed to their pet during the previous month.

Sadly though our cats are not given quite so much care. Understandable though as the disease has always been associated with dogs. But, though the parasite lives most successfully inside a dog's body, it often survives for up to three years if deposited inside a cat instead. Because the worms often will not breed inside the feline system, they are much harder to diagnose in cats than in dogs. Usually the newly hatched generation of worms can be clearly seen in a sample of canine blood. But without such offspring to test for, vets have to look much harder to confirm a heartworm infection in a cat.

Even the symptoms differ, cats suffering with this disease display a huge range of non-specific symptoms, from lethargy, loss of appetite and occasional difficulty walking to vomiting, seizures, breathing difficulties and even sudden death. All these symptoms could be explained as coming from another cause. Indeed, the Heartworm Society and pet medical experts now recognise that many previously diagnosed cases of feline asthma and bronchitis were more probably cases of cat heartworm disease.

With diagnosis so difficult and a large stray population, ascertaining the real figures for infections in cats are impossible. Conservative estimates suggest that rates will be between 5 and 20% the rate for the disease in dogs in any given area. But other groups suggest the figure could be much higher, up to 40%. Whatever the figure, all agree that wherever dogs contract heartworm disease, cats are definitely at risk too.

There are a few products available which will ensure your cat does not contract the illness, which can be given each month when mosquitoes are active. These heartworm meds should be given after consulting with your vet to check your cat is not already infected. Preventative medicine is the only option open to pet owners as there are no FDA approved treatments available to treat an infection in cats. All vets can do is offer secondary care, things to help lungs and heart cope with the infection while they wait for the parasites to die off naturally. With this taking up to three years, that is a long time for your cat's health to be poor and in serious danger of permanent damage.

Heartworm disease has been recorded all over the United States but obviously the threat is greatest where mosquito populations are larger and/or active year round. Check with your vet to see how common the disease is in your area but remember the Heartworm Society recommend all pet owners to use preventative heartworm meds in all states of the US.

reference : http://ezinearticles.com


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