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Lungworms in Cats

By: PetPlace Veterinarians

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Infection of the respiratory tree is in some ways similar to infection of the stomach and intestines by gastrointestinal parasites like roundworms or hookworms, although it is less common. The lungworm injures the airways or lung tissue by inciting an inflammatory reaction. The parasites live and reproduce in the respiratory tissues.

Dogs acquire lungworms by eating one of the "hosts" that serve the lungworm during part of its life cycle. The life cycle of the different parasites can be complicated, involving both intermediate hosts and transport hosts.

The summary of specific lugworms parasites, the species each affects, the lifecycle of each and the geographical distribution of each is as follows:

  • Aelurostrongylus abstrusus affects cats and during its lifecycle its intermediate hosts are the snail and slug and its transport hosts are birds, small mammals and reptiles. Its geographical distribution is worldwide.

  • Paragonimus kellicotti affects dogs and during its lifecycle, the intermediate hosts are the crayfish and snail. The transport host is the raccoon. The geographical distribution is North America.

  • Capillaria aerophilia has a direct lifecycle. Its geographical distribution is North America.

    The major symptom of lungworms is coughing. Of course, there are numerous causes of cough or other signs similar to lungworms. Some common examples in cats include:

  • Airway obstruction (foreign body, tumor)
  • Asthma
  • Bronchitis
  • Respiratory infections
  • Heartworm disease
  • Heart disease (coughing can occur in cats, but is not as common as in dogs)
  • Allergic lung diseases
  • Pneumonia
  • Pulmonary granulomatosis (type of inflammation)
  • Pulmonary neoplasia (lung cancer)

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