What Is Lungworms in Cats?
Lung-dwelling worms can lead to significant respiratory issues in cats. Those felines with outdoor access and a propensity for hunting small animals like birds and rodents are particularly susceptible to these parasitic ailments.
Types and Symptoms of Lungworms in Cats
Numerous worm species can find their way into the respiratory systems of animals. Two frequent culprits in cats are Capillaria aerophila and Aelurostrongylus abstrusus. These can trigger symptoms like persistent coughing and labored breathing (dyspnea).
Worm larvae in the air passages lead to this coughing, complicating breathing and resulting in mucus buildup. Neglecting treatment may exacerbate the harm in the respiratory tract, potentially causing severe conditions like emphysema, pulmonary fluid retention, and pneumonia. In extreme scenarios, the affected cat might even start shedding weight.
Causes of Lungworms in Cats
When cats consume water or prey containing the immature stage of the lungworm, they become carriers. These larvae travel from the intestines, through the bloodstream, and finally to the lungs. Here, they mature into full-grown worms and, within approximately 40 days, produce eggs within the host's respiratory system. These eggs are expelled through the cat's cough or excreted in their waste. Subsequently, birds, rodents, snails, or other domestic animals might ingest them.
Diagnosis of Lungworms in Cats
To ascertain whether a cat is infected with lungworms, the following evaluations will be conducted:
- Physical examination (lung auscultation) and history
- Chest X-rays
- Fecal examination for eggs
- Complete blood count (CBC)
- Examination of fluid from lungs (tracheal wash)
Treatment of Lungworms in Cats
Lungworm infestations can be addressed using anti-worm (anthelminthic) drugs, including:
With time, these drugs are effective in eliminating the worms and assisting the animal in overcoming the infection. In intense situations where additional infections or respiratory harm are evident, other treatments like corticosteroids or antibiotics might be essential for the animal's recuperation.
Living and Management of Lungworms in Cats
Lungworm infections in cats are usually short-lived. The feline frequently expels the worms by coughing or passing them in its stool. The outlook is positive if the appropriate medication is administered and the cat doesn't contract subsequent pulmonary conditions like pneumonia.
Additional chest radiographs or stool tests might be required for advanced cases for monitoring.
Prevention of Lungworms in Cats
Keeping cats inside is advisable to protect them from lungworm larvae carriers like rodents, birds, or other wildlife.