'Tis The Hearthworm Season (III).
By Terry Hobbs.
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|In mild areas, the cat may need to be on preventative medication year-round.
If you have a dog that needs to go on heartworm prevention, you will have noticed that the dog will first be tested for heartworm infection. Cats are not tested beforehand because there are no risks of starting preventative medication if heartworms are already present.
In addition, it is much more difficult to detect heartworm infection in cats compared to dogs.
Note that the preventative medication is not a vaccine. It must be given regularly during the time of the year that your veterinarian indicates. When the cat takes the pill, the medication kills any heartworm larvae in the cat's system, preventing the larvae from developing into adult worms. Heartworm disease cannot develop because there are no adult worms.
However, if the cat gets bitten again by a mosquito, any new larvae must be killed; therefore, the medication must be given as long as there is a danger of the cat being bitten by a mosquito. If your cat is an indoor cat, don't think your pet is immune. About one third of cats that contract heartworm disease are considered indoor cats.
If you live in an area with a low rate of heartworm disease in dogs, then your cat may not need to go on preventative medication. But the best thing for you to do is discuss heartworm disease and its prevention with your veterinarian. If you do live in a high risk area, you may save your cat's life with a simple monthly regimen.
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