Saturday, February 19, 2011


Hard to diagnose; Hard to treat; Hard to breathe; Hard on your cat.  H.A.R.D. (Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease) is the name of the syndrome caused by Dirofilaria Immitus (Heartworms) in cats.  Recent studies have proven that many cats with reactive airway disease (asthma) and other types of lung disease have heartworm infections.

The most worrisome aspect of this condition is that cats are affected by immature stages of worms that cannot be detected on available test.  Current heartworm tests are for adult female worms, so if a cat has only a a few male worms or the lung disease is from immature worms, the disease is hard to diagnose.  Compounding the concern, we can only treat the symptoms.  Unlike dogs, it is considered too risky to treat the adult worms in cats.

You may ask yourself what can be done.  Here is the good news about a hard situation:  Prevention Is Easy!  It's the only practical and effective approach.  Also, seriously, why do cats not deserve the same level of parasite protection as that given to dogs?  No, their indoor lifestyle does not reduce their risk to anything close to an acceptable level.

Just as in dogs, there are a variety of monthly preventative products that are very safe and very effective.  These products can also prevent flea, mite, lice, and intestinal parasite infestations.  Remember, if your pets are free from parasites, you and your family will be too!

Brian C. Ray, DVM

No comments: