Parasite Screening & Prevention
Cats are likely to become infected with parasites at some point in their lives. If left undetected and untreated, they will affect a pet’s well-being – from simply being irritating to causing a variety of life-threatening conditions. Some parasites can even infect and transmit disease to humans, with children being an especially vulnerable target! Parasites don’t discriminate; both indoor and outdoor pets are at risk.
When it comes to parasitic illness, it’s always better to prevent than to treat. That’s why Bay Hill Cat Hospital recommends annual testing for intestinal parasites as well as heartworm and tick-borne diseases.
A common mistake is for a client to think that if their pet has normal feces and if no worms are seen, then there are no parasites; however microscopic analysis of your pet’s feces is necessary for an accurate determination. It is for this reason that we ask for a stool sample at your pet’s annual (or semi-annual) visit. Early detection of parasites such as hookworms, roundworms, whipworms, tapeworms, and giardia is vital to successful treatment. Some of the symptoms of parasitic illness include diarrhea, decreased appetite, poor hair coat, vomiting and weight loss or “pot belly”. The presence of these symptoms is neither a confirmation nor indication of a parasitic infection. The only way diagnosis can be made is through IPT, and at that point, an appropriate treatment or preventive program can be prescribed.
The Companion Animal Parasite Council (www.capcvet.org) recommends the following IPT schedule:
- Kittens: 2-4 times/year
- Adult Cats (Not Taking Broad Spectrum Heartworm Preventative Medication): 2-4 times/year
- Adult Cats (Taking Broad Spectrum Heartworm Preventative Medication): 1-2 times/year
We make it easy and cost-effective for you by including this test with many of our wellness packages! To test your kitty annually for intestinal parasites, please remember to bring a fresh fecal sample during each wellness exam.
Did you know that cats can get heartworms too? While we most hear about dogs being diagnosed, it is also a concern for cats. However, there are a few big differences between dogs and cats in regards to heartworm disease.
- There is no known cure for heartworm disease in cats!
- Cats are more likely to show signs of respiratory distress such as labored breathing, which is often misdiagnosed as feline asthma or other respiratory diseases.
- While dogs may carry many heartworms (and you can see the babies in their blood!), cats typically only have one or two and are often found in the lungs, not the heart upon autopsy.
- Because it is often misdiagnosed, we often don’t diagnose cats with heartworms until it is too late.
What if your cat is strictly indoors? Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes and since mosquitoes can come into our homes, this means that indoor cats still need to be protected! In fact, 28% of infected cats are indoor only!
How do we protect our kitties? We recommend using Revolution, a monthly topical preventative that protects against heartworms, intestinal parasites, fleas and ear mites. Protecting against intestinal parasites is just as important because some of these intestinal parasites are considered zoonotic, meaning they can be passed from pets to humans.
For more information on Feline Heartworms and Revolution, please contact our office or visit www.knowheartworms.org.
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