Cats are subject to a number of illnesses, particularly cats that spend a lot of time outdoors. Infections with parasites such as lungworms are highly treatable, but they can be of great concern to owners and cause significant distress to the animal.
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There are several species of lungworm. Feline lungworm is generally carried by snails and slugs. Cats typically contract it after eating infected birds or mice.
While cats with mild cases of lungworm infection may show no symptoms, severe infections cause a heavy cough and breathing problems. Affected cats may also lack energy and appetite.
After ruling out more common illnesses, veterinarians can identify lungworm infection through an examination of a cat's stool and respiratory fluids. The parasite will be present in one or both substances.
A medication such as fenbendazole is used to treat cats with lungworms. If an infected cat is experiencing severe breathing problems, it may be necessary to add steroids to the treatment.
Preventing outdoor cats from acquiring lungworms is extremely difficult, particularly in areas with high snail populations. Keeping a cat indoors is the most viable prevention.
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