I think we can say that it is officially the height of summer, folks! I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like they are living on the surface of the sun.
This time of year, in addition to keeping your pets cool, there is another hazard out there — vector-borne disease or as the rest of the world may refer to it, terrible diseases spread by mosquitos and other biting insects.
Though this type of threat gets a lot of attention in dogs, our feline friends, even the indoor ones, are susceptible too and the signs — as is typical for cats — are far less obvious.
According to the American Heartworm Society, over 25% of cats infected with heartworm disease are indoor cats, or those that many deem to be at a lower risk level. That is quite a large number! What then, can you do to ensure that your pet is at a lower risk for infection?
Monthly preventive prescriptions are available for both dogs and cats. These are most effective when given year-round basis since the life cycle of the parasite requires treating longer than the peak vector season. Determining the proper course for your pet is best discussed with your veterinarian and may differ from cat to cat. It’s important to know that the medications used for both cats and dogs must be FDA-approved and cannot be purchased without a prescription.
Prevention is key! As no one can rule out the possibility of their pet coming into contact with mosquitos 100%, the monthly regimen is your best bet — mosquito netting can only do so much!
If you decide not to have your pet on a preventive, it is key that you know both the signs and your pet’s “normal” behavior. The infection may be much less serious for felines, as their body is an atypical host for the disease and some cats weather infection without much difficulty or ever showing symptoms. The bad news is that sudden and unexpected death is one of the symptoms and then it is too late. If your area has mosquitos, heartworm infection is there, so be on the lookout for:
- Asthma-like attacks
- Periodic vomiting
- Lack of appetite or weight loss
- Difficulty walking
- Fainting or seizures
If your pet displays any of these symptoms, please ensure they see their veterinarian.
Even if your pet is currently healthy, it is well worth asking your veterinarian about preventative treatment during your next visit. Keeping your cat healthy with a tenth of an ounce of prevention is worth far more than ten pounds of cure!
To learn more about feline and canine heartworm, please visit the American Heartworm Society.
To learn more about vector related disease and other potential hazards in your area, please visit the American Mosquito Control Association.
Title Image by Tambako