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Did You Know Your Cat Can Get Worms In His Lungs?

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It is true that cats can suffer from lung worm infection. A recent study published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery found that not only is the lungworm a very real pathogen in our cats, but new species of lungworms have been found that can cause clinical disease. The geographic distribution of this ailment is steadily growing, possibly due to things like global warming.

Up to this point, most cases of lungworm infection in domestic cats has been attributed to single species of worm, Aelurostrongylus abstrusus. Now we know that several other similar species are capable of causing disease in our cats. The worms come from infected environments where they originate in wildlife and utilize intermediate hosts like slugs, snails or even earthworms. Even worse, the trouble seems to be spreading geographically.

The signs of lungworm infection can masquerade as other common cat ailments, like feline asthma. If your cat is coughing or showing signs suggestive of respiratory disease, make sure your veterinarian is considering a lungworm infection.

There is no blood test that can reliably diagnosis lungworm, but sometimes your veterinary staff can find lungworm eggs with a special test on a fecal sample from a cat. So if your veterinarian suggests performing a stool test to rule out lungworm, even though it seems unconventional, you should authorized this testing.

The good news is that many of our common prescription anthelmintic (deworming) medications will cover lungworms when used as directed by your vet.
If you see your vet with a coughing cat, he might just recommend a “poop” test and a dewormer and even though it seems unrelated, trust me, it is a good idea.

 

 

  1. Diagnosis and management of lungworm infections in cats: Cornerstones, dilemmas and new avenues. J Feline Med Surg. 2016 Jan;18(1):7-20. doi: 10.1177/1098612X15623113.Traversa D, Di Cesare A.

Written by Dr. Kathryn Primm
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