Heartworm disease in cats and dogs

Heartworm disease (Dirofilariasis) is a mosquito-borne, nematodal (worm) infestation.  Domestic dogs, some wild Canidae, and very occasionally cats are the main source of infection.  Dogs can be tested with a quick “snap” test during their annual examination.  If the test is positive then further testing is done to determine the severity of the infestation prior to specific treatment for heartworm disease.  As this disease can be life-threatening, most dogs take a monthly preventative during the months when mosquitos are present.

Cats can also be tested for heartworm disease with a quick “snap” test.  As cats are inherently resistant to heartworms and the incidence of disease in cats is less than 20% of the rate found in dogs in the same area, testing is usually done in cats with chronic respiratory disease.  Treatment in cats is generally supportive not specific.  Cats too have monthly preventative medication available which is especially important for cats that go outdoors.