Beyond Nine Lives: Taking Heartworm Precautions

Just Cats Clinic

Live Beyond 9 Lives banner

This is a sponsored post by veterinarian Elizabeth Arguelles, owner of Just Cats Clinic at Lake Anne Plaza. She writes weekly on Reston Now.

Heartworm is a parasitic disease that can be deadly to cats. Though it occurs more frequently in dogs, you should take precautions to ensure that it does not develop in your cat.

The disease is transmitted by mosquitoes. When an insect carrying heartworm bites your cat, the parasites’ larvae pass into your cat’s bloodstream. If the cat is not on preventative medication, the larvae then develop into worms that can live in the right side of the heart and the pulmonary arteries. This process usually takes about eight months.

It is a common misperception that only outdoor cats are at risk of contracting heartworm. Any cat can get the parasite if bitten by an infected mosquito, and indoor cats in areas with mosquitoes are no safer than outdoor cats.

Unfortunately, there are no clinical signs that clearly indicate that your cat has heartworm disease. A cat with heartworm might start coughing suddenly and breathing more rapidly. However, these can also be signs of other diseases such as asthma or respiratory infections. The following table lists both acute and chronic clinical signs of heartworm, but please remember that these may also be indicators of other diseases.

Acute clinical signs: collapse, dyspnea, convulsions, diarrhea/vomiting, blindness, tachycardia (faster than normal heart rate while resting), loss of consciousness and sudden death.

Chronic clinical signs: coughing, vomiting, dyspnea, lethargy, anorexia, weight loss and pleural effusion resulting from fluid accumulation.

Whether those turn out to be signs of heartworm or not, please seek immediate medical attention if your cat shows any of these symptoms. Your vet will likely run blood tests to determine if the parasite is present, but many of these tests are not accurate and will not completely rule out the diagnosis.

If heartworms are present, there is unfortunately no cure and treatment can be difficult. Your vet will treat the symptoms, but unfortunately there is a risk your cat could die of pulmonary failure during the worm’s lifespan.

So what’s the good news in all of this? Preventing heartworm disease is extremely easy and helps to ensure your cat stays happy and healthy. Many heartworm preventatives are simple topical medications applied once monthly to the back of your cat’s neck. While there are a variety of heartworm preventatives on the market, they aren’t all effective or safe.

Always ask your vet about the different options available for your cat. Also by buying the product directly from your vet’s office, many manufacturers offer a guarantee and back their product 100 percent. Some will even pay for your cat’s treatment should they contract heartworms while on the preventative, or will even refund your money if your cat ends up having an allergy or sensitivity to the preventative.

For more information, please visit the Feline Health Library on our website:

Recent Stories

A new CBD boutique is coming soon to Lake Anne Plaza (staff photo by Angela Woolsey) A CBD boutique is coming soon to Reston’s Lake Anne Plaza. OmBaked is expected…

Live Fairfax is a bi-weekly column exploring Fairfax County. This recurring column is sponsored and written by Sharmane Medaris of McEnearney Associates. Questions? Reach Sharmane at 813-504-4479. Are you an inspired foodie like…

The clock is ticking for Fairfax County and the D.C. region to adopt a new transportation plan aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This past June, the National Capital Region…

The Reston Town Center pavilion reopened in November after undergoing renovations (staff photo by Jay Westcott) Intricate ice sculptures are coming to Reston Town Center’s outdoor skating rink at the…

The Ravel Dance Studio will re-open for fall classes 2020. The school will offer in person and virtual online instruction. With over 5000 sq. ft. to social distance the school has added air ionization filtration systems, ballet barres, acrylic dividers, hands free bathrooms, strict monitoring and more.

The Ravel Dance Studio will produce a Nutcracker Ballet Hollywood style video through the Reston Community CenterStage. REGISTRATION online begins August 17.

Submit your own Community Post here for just $99.

Chris Green is one of the DMV’s finest fitness instructors. A Lululemon and South Block ambassador, he is a coach and mentor to so many. He embodies grace, positivity and motivation in ways that no one else can. If we could all learn a thing or two from him, the world would be a much better place. He does so much for others, and does so with a smile on his face 99% of the time.

He recently ruptured his Achilles and has an incredibly long and tough journey ahead. As if COVID hadn’t impacted fitness professionals enough, throw this in the mix and it’s a double, even triple whammy. CG is no longer able to work and do what he loves for the time being because of this and we’d love your support.

Read More

Submit your own Community Post here for just $99.


Subscribe to our mailing list