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What is Cat Lungworm? Signs, Treatment and Prevention

What is Cat Lungworm? Signs, Treatment and Prevention

Protect your cat from dreaded lungworm

What is Cat Lungworm? Signs, Treatment and Prevention

There is a lot to know about parasites and how to protect your cat. The following information will help you understand lungworm and the dangers it can pose, the signs of lungworm infection and how to keep your cat protected.

What is lungworm?

  • Lungworm is a type of parasite that lives in the airways and small arteries of the lungs
  • Adults live for 2 years in the lungs, and produce larvae that can be detected in the faeces
  • The female lungworm is about 9 mm long and the male about 4-7 mm long

Why is lungworm so important?

  • Lungworms can cause serious damage to lung tissue, and lead to severe, life-threatening respiratory disease, especially in kittens, older cats and cats with weakened immune systems
  • Lungworm can be difficult to diagnose and symptoms may be non-specific - similar to those seen with other lung conditions or hairballs
  • Prevalence of lungworm is higher than originally thought – in one Australian study, 16% of stray cats tested were infected
  • Infected cats can shed infective larvae for 2 years, contaminating the environment and increasing the risk of infection for other cats

How are cats infected?

  • Cats become infected with lungworm when they eat an animal infected with microscopic lungworm larvae, such as a snail, slug, mouse or rat, frog, lizard or bird. After being swallowed and arriving in the gastrointestinal tract, the lungworm larvae burrow through the gut wall and migrate to the lungs
  • In the lungs, the larvae mature into adult worms, reproduce and females lay eggs that hatch into microscopic larvae
  • Lungworm larvae are coughed up, swallowed, and excreted in the faeces of the cat
  • Lungworm larvae in the environment must infect snails or slugs and further develop inside them to become infectious to cats
  • Mice and rats, birds, lizards and frogs are infected when they eat a lungworm infected snail or slug and are the major source of transmission to cats

Lungworm facts

The risks

  • Any cat can become infected with lungworm, even indoor-only cats
  • Outdoor cats with access to snails or slugs, or cats who hunt mice and rats, birds, lizards and frogs are more likely to become infected
  • Clinical disease is most common in kittens, older cats and adult cats with other illnesses or weakened immune systems

What are the signs of lungworm infection?

Lungworm causes damage to the lungs and subsequent respiratory distress. Symptoms are typically most severe between 6 and 13 weeks after infection when the adult female worms in the lungs produce large numbers of eggs. Not all cats will show signs of infection, but common symptoms include:

  • Persistent cough, often with bouts of intense coughing
  • Wheezing, sneezing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Open-mouthed abdominal breathing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Weight loss

Treatment and Prevention

The good news is treatment and prevention are easy!

Key prevention tips

  • Prevent hunting behaviour in cats – ensure mental stimulation, a complete and balanced diet, fit bells on their collar, and keep cats inside when possible, especially between dusk and dawn
  • Regularly clean up cat faeces in the environment to reduce infection of snails, slugs, mice, rats, frogs, lizards and birds
  • Use a preventative product, like Advocate, regularly and as directed

Got a pet health question?

If you have a question on anything from parasites to pet health, ask us we don't bite!

Call The Advantage Pet Care Line on 1800 678 368.

Advocate for cats

Advocate not only controls parasite infections but monthly treatment can help protect your cat against fleas, heartworm and gastrointestinal worms.
Treats
Fleas, Worms, Heartworm

Cat Grooming

Cats love to groom. Give them a helping hand.

- ↓ -
Got a pet health question?

If you have a question on anything from parasites to pet health, ask us we don't bite!

Call The Advantage Pet Care Line on 1800 678 368.

Advocate for cats

Advocate not only controls parasite infections but monthly treatment can help protect your cat against fleas, heartworm and gastrointestinal worms. Treats
Fleas, Worms, Heartworm

Cat Grooming

- ↓ -

Cats love to groom. Give them a helping hand.