Most dogs infected with heartworms do not show any signs for a long time. Eventually, as the disease progresses, the animal may exhibit such signs as coughing, weakness, shortness of breath, and exercise intolerance. The signs depend on the number of adult heartworms present, the location of the worms, and the length of time the worms have been present. Infected cats may be asymptomatic or may exhibit signs of respiratory distress, such as coughing or wheezing.
Heartworm disease is diagnosed with a blood test that detects antibodies to the parasite in cats and antigen produced by the worms in dogs. We recommend testing all dogs once a year, and using healthy and heartworm preventative once a month all year. We recommend testing cats that go outside, and any cats that show signs of respiratory distress or coughing.
Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is one of the most common and destructive of all cat viruses. It is highly contagious and is spread primarily by saliva during catfights, grooming or mating. The virus may also be spread by blood, urine and feces. Kittens may become infected while still in the womb, at birth, or during nursing.
Currently, there is no effective treatment for cats infected with FeLV. Of the cats persistently infected, about 25% will die within one year, and 75% will die within three years. Some may live longer, but tend to have various chronic illnesses.
There are no signs specific for FeLV infection, because it can affect any organ system. The main effect of the virus is to disrupt the cat’s immune system. While anemia is the most common disorder caused by the virus, cancer and various other diseases are common. Some disorders commonly associated with FeLV include: chronic GI or respiratory disease; chronic infection of the mouth, gums and tongue; chronic eye disease; frequent or chronic skin disease and frequent or chronic urinary tract infections.
Outdoor cats (ie those exposed to other cats) are at risk for developing FeLV infection. Testing and vaccination before exposure to the virus is the best means of preventing FeLV infection. The vaccination protocol is two initial vaccines one month apart, followed by yearly boosters. Without vaccination, isolation from other cats is the only means of prevention.
Dogs that test positive for heartworm disease are treated with a series of injections that kill heartworms. The immature heartworms are killed with an oral dose of Ivermectin. During the treatment, owners are advised to keep the dog very quiet, with no strenuous exercise, which could hinder recovery and exacerbate the clinical signs of illness. We prescribe an antibiotic and prednisone to decrease inflammation as well to treat Wohlbachia, a parasite that often accompanies adult heartworms. Other medications are prescribed based on the degree of damage to the heart and blood vessels sustained as a result of infection. Cats are generally treated with a combination of prednisone, and a bronchodilator.
Anal Gland Tumors
Brushing Teeth in Cats
Brushing Teeth in Dogs
Buyer beware - purchasing pet drugs online
Cat Behavior and Training - Crate Training and Travel
Cat Behavior Problems - Aggression - Petting Aggression
Chocolate Poisoning for Dogs
Coccidiosis in Dogs
Cystitis and Lower Urinary Tract Disease in Cats
Degenerative Disc Disease in Dogs
Dog Behavior and Training - Crate Training Guide - How to Crate Train
FELV Infection Information Sheet
Flea Control in Cats
Flea Control in Dogs
Giving Pills to Cats
Giving Pills to Dogs
Heartworm Disease in Dogs - Testing
Hookworm Infection in Dogs
Hyperthyroidism in Cats
Internal Parasites in Cats
Internal Parasites in Dogs
Kidney Failure - Chronic in Dogs
Kitten Behavior and Training - Litter Box Training
Lyme Disease in Dogs - Testing
Obesity in Cats
Pancreatic Disease - Testing
Pancreatitis in Cats
Resource list-companion animal loss and death
Roundworm Infection in Dogs
Whipworm Infections in Dogs