Saturday, April 13, 2024
HomeLifestyleCan Cats Get Heartworms From Dogs

Can Cats Get Heartworms From Dogs

Humans Can Get Worm Eggs From Kissing A Worm Infected Dog

Can Dogs Get Worms from Cats? | Wag!

Zoonotic illnesses and parasites, or diseases and parasites that may pass from one species to another, such as from dog to human, can be transmitted through your dogs affectionate licks.

If your dog has worm eggs, and you kiss your dog or allow your dog to lick your face, there is a high chance you can get worm eggs.

Direct kissing of your dog will not only give you worm but other bacterial pathogens as a dog mouth are loaded with microorganisms

How Is Heartworm In Cats Diagnosed And Treated

Unfortunately,” Kleypas says, “it’s much more difficult to diagnose heartworms in cats than in dogs, and many go undiagnosed.” She explains that the standard test done in dogs can be done in cats, but it doesn’t work as well since cats tend to have far fewer worms than dogs. Another type of test is often used and can detect the presence of both baby and adult worms. Chest X-rays and even ultrasound imaging can be helpful as well.

Treating heartworm disease is also more difficult in cats than in dogs. According to Kleypas, the drug used to kill adult heartworms in dogs is toxic to cats, and there is no safe, effective alternative. Instead, she explains that cats with heartworm disease receive supportive care in the form of steroids to minimize inflammation, and there are drugs available to treat the signs of HARD. Infected cats are also placed on heartworm preventative medications in hopes that the cat will outlive the worm, Kleypas says. Recovery is possible, but it is likely the cat will have permanent damage from the infection.

How Are Heartworms Transmitted To A Cat

The life cycle of the heartworm is complex and requires two host animals in order to complete it. Heartworms require the mosquito as an intermediate host and as many as 30 species of mosquitoes can act as this host and transmit heartworms.

Mosquitoes ingest immature heartworm larvae, called microfilariae, by feeding on an infected cat or, more commonly, an infected dog. The microfilariae develop further for 10 to 30 days in the mosquito’s gut and then enter its mouthparts. When an infected mosquito bites a cat, it injects infective larvae into the cat.

The larvae migrate into the bloodstream, ending up in the right side of the heart and the pulmonary arteries. There they mature into adult heartworms capable of reproduction within about 6 to 7 months. Shortly thereafter, at around eight months after infection, they begin to produce a new crop of microfilaria that will live in the cat’s blood for about one month. Cats are resistant hosts, and few circulating microfilariae are generally found.

Because of this life cycle, it is necessary for a cat to be bitten by an infected mosquito in order to become infected with heartworms. Heartworms are not transmitted directly from one cat to another or from a dog directly to a cat.

The risk of infection is greatest when mosquitoes are actively feeding. This typically requires temperatures over 50°F .

Also Check: Why Is Cat Crazy

How Is Heartworm Disease Diagnosed

Vets can diagnose heartworm disease by testing the dogs blood and looking for heartworm microfilariae circulating in the bloodstream and the presence of adult worms. Chest X-rays can also help determine the extent of heart and lung damage.

Heartworm disease is a progressive illness, and the earlier its detected and treated, the better chance dogs have of surviving and limiting permanent damage to their lungs and heart. If your dog tests positive, treatment is expensive and can be risky. However, treatment will be necessary to save your dogs life.

Signs Of Heartworms In Dogs

How Dogs Get Heartworms

The symptoms of heartworm in dogs are different from one dog to another. The best thing to do if you suspect infection is to take your dog to the vet for an appropriate diagnosis.

Note that most dogs with heartworm tend to show visible symptoms of the disease when it is too late to be treated. Early detection is very important when it comes to the quick treatment of heartworm in dogs.

Heartworm infection is a silent killer in dogs it can take some time for a dog to show signs. In the early stages of the disease, most dogs show little or no symptoms. The more the disease develops, the more likely the noticeable symptoms will develop.

The following are among the early symptoms of dog heartworm. If your notice any of these symptoms, dont delay taking your dog to the vet.

Read Also: Different Sized Pupils In Cats

What Do I Need To Know About Heartworm Testing

Heartworm disease is a serious, progressive disease. The earlier it is detected, the better the chances the pet will recover. There are few, if any, early signs of disease when a dog or cat is infected with heartworms, so detecting their presence with a heartworm test administered by a veterinarian is important. The test requires just a small blood sample from your pet, and it works by detecting the presence of heartworm proteins. Some veterinarians process heartworm tests right in their hospitals while others send the samples to a diagnostic laboratory. In either case, results are obtained quickly. If your pet tests positive, further tests may be ordered.

Symptoms Of Heartworm Disease In Cats

Signs of heartworm infestation in cats include coughing, labored or rapid breathing , and vomiting. Weight loss and decreased energy are also common symptoms.

A physical examination may also reveal a heart murmur or otherwise irregular heart rhythm.

The most common signs of heartworm disease in cats deal with the respiratory systemdifficulty breathing, coughing and a high respiratory rateand are often referred to as heartworm-associated respiratory disease .

HARD is an all-encompassing term used to describe the vascular, airway and interstitial lung lesions caused by the death of immature worms or the death of adult worms.

Many of the respiratory symptoms of heartworm in cats are almost indistinguishable from those of other respiratory diseases, like asthma and allergic bronchitis.

The arrival and death of juvenile worms seems to lead to more noticeable HARD symptoms.

Recommended Reading: What Breed Is A Calico Cat

What Are The Symptoms Of Heartworm Disease

There is a wide spectrum of symptoms, depending on how many worms are living in the dog’s heart. Dogs with only a few worms may carry them for years without showing any symptoms. Dogs with many worms usually develop serious heart, lung, liver and kidney problems, with symptoms such as weight loss, coughing, fever, poor haircoat, and inability to tolerate exercise. Dogs with heavy infestations will usually die unless the disease is treated.

How To Help Prevent Heartworm In Cats

Feline Heartworms…A Hidden and Deadly Threat!

Because cats are infected via mosquito bite, cats who spend a lot of time outdoors are at a higher risk, but indoor cats aren’t completely safe either. Kleypas says that roughly one in four cats diagnosed with heartworm disease is an indoor-only pet. The Companion Animal Parasite Council also notes that heartworms have been found in cats in all 50 states.

That means the best way to prevent your cat from being infected with heartworms is with preventative drugs. “The same class of drugs used to prevent heartworms in dogs is available as a monthly treatment for cats,” Kleypas says. “And as an added bonus, many of these products will also prevent fleas, intestinal parasites, and ear mites.” Your cat’s veterinarian will work with you to find the best option for your pet.

Kleypas cautions that while dog and cat heartworm preventative drugs contain the same compounds, you shouldn’t give what’s meant for your cat to your dog . “The effective and safe dose for dogs is vastly different than for cats,” she explains. “For instance, there are preventatives that require four times as much drug per pound of body weight for cats versus dogs, while another preventative requires only half the amount of drug per pound of body weight for cats versus dogs.” It’s important to talk with your veterinarian to be sure the right preventative heartworm treatment is used for your cat to help keep them safe from infection.

Also Check: What Is Cat Years Compared To Human

Do Cats Get Heartworms Like Dogs

Like dogs, cats can be infected with heartworms. There are differences, however, in the nature of the disease and how it is diagnosed and managed. Because a cat is not an ideal host for heartworms, some infections resolve on their own, although these infections can leave cats with respiratory system damage.

Heartworm In Cats: The Basics

Heartworm in cats is spread, just as it is in dogs, by mosquitoes. A mosquito transmits the heartworm to a cat after it has bitten an infected dog , so heartworm cases in cats are directly related to the number of infected dogs in the area. It is important to note that coyotes and foxes are also carriers of the disease, and living amid these wild animals could increase the chances of your cat contracting heartworm.

When your cat is bitten by an infected mosquito, the heartworm larvae enter the bloodstream and migrate to the heart or blood vessels of the lungs. Once there, these foot-long worms wreak havoc on your cats heart, lungs, vessels, and other organs. This process takes several months, which makes diagnosis difficult.

Read Also: Calico Shorthair

Does My Dog Really Need Heartworm Prevention

A: The American Heartworm Society recommends year-round heartworm prevention. One reason is, theres already a serious problem with people forgetting to give their dogs the heartworm preventatives. Its a universal problem. Now if you use it year-round, and you miss a month, your dog will probably still be protected.

Myth : Indoor Pets Are Not At Risk For Heartworms

Heartworm Symptoms in Cats

Dont assume that your pet is protected just because shes a homebody that doesnt venture outdoors much. Disease-carrying mosquitos can easily get inside the home and transmit heartworm disease.

About one-quarter of cats diagnosed with heartworms are considered indoor cats, says Dr. Hatton.

Even if your pampered pooch only goes outside for bathroom breaks or brief walks, rememberit takes just one bite from an infected mosquito to infect a pet, says Dr. Rehm.

You May Like: How Often To Feed 3 Month Old Kitten

Myth : Heartworm Disease Is Just A Summertime Issue

We all know mosquitos thrive in warmer weather, but mosquito season can fluctuate from one region to another, and even from one year to the next, says Dr. Hatton.

Generally, mosquito activity will begin when the temperature reaches the 50 degrees Fahrenheit level and typically tapers off as the temperatures cool, Dr. Hatton says.

However, Its not unheard of for mosquitos to be active in 40-degree temperatures, says Dr. Susan Jeffrey, a veterinarian with Truesdell Animal Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin.

The first frost is usually a reliable indicator that mosquito season is over, but some hibernating mosquitos can emerge in the winter during unexpected warm spells, adds Dr. Hatton.

If you live in warmer climates, youre prepared to see mosquitos even in winter months, but even in colder climates, its impossible to predict when the last mosquito will appear, says Dr. Rehm.

Mosquitos also seek out warm, protected places like crawl spaces and decks where they can survive until well after the last leaves have fallen. For these reasons, the AHS recommends year-round prevention for all pets, says Dr. Rehm.

Does My Dog Have Worms

If you are concerned your dog may have come into direct contact with your infected cat or other cats feces then you would be wise to keep an eye out for the following symptoms: Has your dog lost its appetite or a substantial amount of weight? Is your dog persistently vomiting or have diarrhea? Most importantly though, can you see worms in your dogs vomit or stool? All of these can be serious indicators that you dog is harboring a worm infestation.

But what causes your dog to catch worms from cat feces? If your dog comes into direct contact with the eggs or larvae then they run the risk of infection. All your dog has to do is eat an infected cats feces and then the egg will hatch inside your dog and develop from there. Worms can lay thousands of eggs a day, so they can quickly wreak havoc on your dogs insides!

Fortunately, diagnosing worms is relatively straightforward. Your vet will simply to take a fecal float and analyze the feces under a microscope. That will allow them to precisely identify what type of worm your dog has.

For more details on various worm conditions, check out our guide to Worm Infestations in Dogs.

Recommended Reading: Cat Ages Compared To Human Years

How Significant Is My Cat’s Risk For Heartworm Infection

Many factors must be considered, even if heartworms do not seem to be a problem in your local area. Your community may have a greater incidence of heartworm disease than you realizeor you may unknowingly travel with your pet to an area where heartworms are more common. Heartworm disease is also spreading to new regions of the country each year. Stray and neglected dogs and certain wildlife such as coyotes, wolves, and foxes can be carriers of heartworms. Mosquitoes blown great distances by the wind and the relocation of infected pets to previously uninfected areas also contribute to the spread of heartworm disease .

The fact is that heartworm disease has been diagnosed in all 50 states, and risk factors are impossible to predict. Multiple variables, from climate variations to the presence of wildlife carriers, cause rates of infections to vary dramatically from year to yeareven within communities. And because infected mosquitoes can come inside, both outdoor and indoor pets are at risk.

For that reason, the American Heartworm Society recommends that you think 12: get your pet tested every 12 months for heartworm and give your pet heartworm preventive 12 months a year.

Heartworm Tests For Cats

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Heartworms

The blood tests used to diagnose heartworms in cats are limited to detecting antigens and antibodies . With both of these tests, there are limitations to their validity.

Since feline heartworm antigen tests only detect mature female heartworms, they have a high rate of false-negative test results.

Cats typically only have a few adult heartworms, and those worms tend to be single-sex. So if there are only male heartworms, then the test will show a false negative.

With antibody testing, the accuracy of results can vary widely depending on the stage of larval development at the time blood samples are taken. The results are also difficult to interpret because a positive result doesnt necessarily mean an infection.

When an antibody result is positive, it simply means that a cat has been exposed to heartworm disease. The test does not confirm whether the infection is current or resolved. A negative result is also not confirmation that a cat is clear from infection, but simply that it is less likely.

Don’t Miss: Can Cats Eat Frosted Flakes

Can Humans Get Worms From Dogs: 7 Ways You Can Get Worms

The question can humans get worms from dogs is a very interesting question and in this post, we will discuss all the possible ways you can get worms from your dog.

You may have heard that you can get worms from eating raw meat. But did you know that you could also get them by coming into contact with your furry friend?

Dogs can carry roundworms, tapeworms, and hookworms, which they can transfer to humans through their feces.

While its not common for someone to get these parasites, it can happen if they come into contact with an infected dogs poop or vomit.

Thats why its important to take proper precautions when cleaning up after your pet.

If you think your dog might have worms, talk with your veterinarian about taking preventative measures.

Its also a good idea to wash your hands after handling pets or anything in their environment.

When Should My Cat Be Tested

Heartworm infection in cats is harder to detect than in dogs, because cats are much less likely than dogs to have adult heartworms. The preferred method for screening cats includes the use of both an antigen and an antibody test . Your veterinarian may also use x-rays or ultrasound to look for heartworm infection. Cats should be tested before being put on prevention and re-tested as the veterinarian deems appropriate to document continued exposure and risk. Because there is no approved treatment for heartworm infection in cats, prevention is critical.

Don’t Miss: Temporary Anisocoria In Cats

Causes Of Heartworm In Cats

Heartworms are spread through mosquito bites.

Mosquitos can carry infective heartworm larvae that enter a cats body when a mosquito feeds. The larvae migrate from the bite wound through the body and mature until they reach the heart and blood vessels of the lungs as adults.

Here, the larvae reproduce, releasing immature heartworms, known as microfilaria, into the cats blood. These microfilariae can then infect the next animal through a mosquito bite.

It is important to note that the presence of microfilaria in the blood is in fact uncommon in cats and has been seen in less than 20 percent of infected cats.

Cats have a very robust immune response to heartworm infection, so more than 90 percent of the infective larvae do NOT make it to adulthood.

For those that do, they tend to be single-sex, which means they cannot reproduce. This can make the detection of heartworms in cats very difficult.

One important thing to know about heartworms in cats is that the worms do not need to reach adulthood to start affecting a cats health.

Myth : You Can Skip The Annual Heartworm Test If Your Pet Is On Preventatives

Heartworms in Cats

In addition to a year-round heartworm-prevention regimen, the AHS recommends annual testing to ensure that the prevention program is working, says Dr. Rehm. Experts say that although heartworm preventives are highly effective, nothing works 100 percent of the time.

Even dogs on strict preventive regimens can become infected. I’ve had two cases of dogs with heartworm who were on monthly preventatives and didn’t miss doses, says Dr. Jeffrey.

The best of pet owners can be forgetful, and missing just one dose of a monthly medicationor giving it latecan leave a dog unprotected. And even if you do everything right and on time, its no guarantee, says Dr. Rehm.

Some dogs spit out their heartworm pills when their owners arent looking. Others may vomit their pills or rub off a topical medication. Fortunately, heartworm tests are safe and can be conducted during your pets annual checkup, advises Dr. Rehm.

Also Check: What’s Cat Years To Human Years


Most Popular