charlotte, nc  vet vet
Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)

FELV is a common infection in cats. It is transmitted primarily in saliva. It can be spread by other bodily fluids, but saliva is the most common. The virus is not stable in the environment so simple soap and water, heat or drying inactivates it. Kittens are most frequently infected by a viremic queen(mother) either across the placenta in the uterus, nursing or most usually when she licks and cleans them. Older cats are more difficult to infect and the cats must engage in prolonged grooming with an infected cat. Casual contact with an infected cat is generally not enough to transmit this disease.

Therapy is supportive. Therapy also is variable depending upon the form the disease exhibits in your cat. Healthy FELV positive cats should be kept inside and isolated from other cats in the household. Some of these cats will have a normal life span.

Prevention is still the best. Test all kittens and if the kitten is to live outside, vaccinate for Leukemia with yearly boosters. Strictly inside cats don't have exposure risks. I generally do not vaccinate inside cats unless the owner is prone to pick up strays and bring them into the household.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)

FIV is transmitted Primarily by bite and fight wounds. It is more common in male cats than female cats and much more prevalent in adult un-neutered males. It is seen most frequently in adult cats rather than kittens and adolescent cats.

Testing for FIV antibodies can be done with an in hospital test with results in less than thirty minutes. there is a vaccine available, but it is not widely used. A vaccinated cat will always test positive on the in-house test.

Treatment is not curative. The best prevention is to keep cats inside or make sure you neuter or spay your cat to decrease incidences of fighting and breeding.

Heart Worm Prevention
An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

Heartworm Disease - Causes, Treatments and Available Preventative Medications for Dog and Cats

Heartworm disease is caused by a parasitic worm that actually lives in the heart chambers and bloodstream of our pets. The only way it is spread is by the bite of infected mosquitoes as they move from animal to animal. The incubation period for heartworms is six (6) months. This is the time period from the actual mosquito bite until we can detect the larvae and/or antigen in the bloodstream.

In dogs, Heartworm Disease is a matter of time and numbers. The longer the worms are present and the more there are is directly related to the amount of damage done to the heart. In cats this is also true but the numbers are far fewer. Due to their significantly smaller heart size it takes ONLY ONE PARASITE to do extensive damage.

The conventional treatment for dogs is, basically, a controlled poisoning of the heartworm and not the dog. This treatment is also expensive, time consuming (multiple vet visits) and poses other health risks for the dog. There is NO treatment for heartworm disease in cats. At this time we are only able to treat the symptoms and wait for the worm to die. There can also be long term health issues for pets that have had heartworm disease. There is a less expensive treatment but it is just as time consuming. Though it takes longer to clear the heartworm population, there are fewer complications for the pet.

The heartworm actually creates heart failure by obstructing the blood flow in and out of the heart. Symptoms will be the same as heart failure--lack of stamina, lethargy, coughing and respiratory difficulty. Advanced cases may also present with a swollen abdomen and legs. In cats these symptoms may not be present. Unfortunately, the only symptom the owner may observe is acute death due to the dislodging of an embolus. For this reason, Heartworm Disease can also be a "silent" disease. Though it does not appear to be as prevalent in cats at this time, it is on the rise.

As this article's title indicates, I am a firm believer in "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". Heartworm Prevention is now EASY for dogs and cats and their owners. We have progressed over the years from foul smelling daily liquids and bitter tablets, to daily chewable tablets for dogs to MONTHLY topicals and flavored tablets that many pets take as a "treat". Most heartworm preventatives are coupled with medications that aid in the control of intestinal parasites and fleas .However, some of the topicals are less effective at treating intestinal parasites. There are oral preventions available for cats but we frequently recommend a topical that also controls fleas. Our newest weapon in heartworm prevention is special compounding of these preventative medications to suit your dog's life style. It is especially cost effective if you have large dogs!

In conclusion, Heartworm Disease can be a potential medical challenge. With the availability of yearly testing and affordable preventative medications we can offer our pets a longer, healthier life!!