Natural Treatment for Lungworm in Cats: Home Remedies That Work

Lungworm in Cats

Lungworm in Cats: Lungworms, also known as parasitic worms, are disgusting creatures that infect your cat’s lungs, bronchial tubes and windpipe. The most common lungworm in cats is called Aelurostrongylus abstrusus. These worms lay eggs that hatch into larvae and are passed through your cat’s stool. Cats become infected by accidentally swallowing these larvae, often while grooming themselves.

The larvae can also infect snails and slugs in the environment. If your cat eats an infected snail or slug, the larvae will enter their system and migrate to the lungs where they develop into adult worms. This is more common in cats that hunt outdoors.

Your cat can pick up lungworm larvae by drinking from puddles, streams or any standing body of water that contains infected snails or slugs. The larvae can survive in water for several weeks, so even if your cat doesn’t see any snails or slugs, the water may still harbor lungworms.

If your cat has lungworms, you may notice coughing, respiratory distress, lethargy or weight loss. In severe cases, lungworm infection can even lead to pneumonia or heart problems. The good news is, with prompt treatment, most cats recover fully from lungworms.

The key is to prevent infection in the first place. Keep your cat indoors, especially at night when slugs and snails are most active. Provide fresh, clean water daily and consider deworming your cat routinely with a broad-spectrum dewormer that treats lungworms, especially if they do go outside. By taking these precautions, you can breathe easy knowing your cat’s lungs will be worm-free.

Lungworm in Cats

Signs and Symptoms of Lungworm Infection in Cats

If your cat has lungworm, you may notice some worrying symptoms. Be on the lookout for coughing, especially a harsh, dry cough. Lungworm larvae can irritate the airways and lungs, causing inflammation and coughing. You may also see your cat gagging or retching, as the larvae move up the windpipe.

Difficulty Breathing

Lung inflammation and lung tissue damage from lungworms can make it difficult for your cat to breathe. You may notice your cat breathing faster or panting, breathing shallowly, or breathing noisily. If your cat’s breathing seems labored or they are wheezing, it could be a sign of a serious lungworm infection and you should have them checked out by a vet immediately.

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Lethargy and Weight Loss

Lungworm infections, like any parasite infestation, can drain your cat’s energy and nutrition. You may notice your cat sleeping more, less interested in exercise or play, and not eating as much. Unexplained weight loss is also common with lungworm, as the parasites consume nutrients from your cat’s body.

Digestive Issues

Some lungworm larvae migrate from the lungs to the digestive tract, which can lead to nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea in cats. The larvae can also damage the lining of the esophagus or stomach. So if your cat has frequent vomiting, diarrhea, or shows discomfort when swallowing food, it could indicate the presence of lungworms.

Watching for these symptoms and getting prompt treatment is important, as severe or long-term lungworm infections can become life-threatening without proper care. If your cat shows any symptoms of lungworms, consult your vet right away for an accurate diagnosis and treatment. They can check for lungworm larvae or eggs in your cat’s feces and may do further testing like blood work, scans, or bronchoscopy to determine the best course of action based on the severity of the infection.

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Natural Remedies to Treat Lungworm in Cats

Certain natural remedies can help get rid of lungworm infestation in cats and provide relief from symptoms. These gentle, non-toxic treatments are a great alternative if you want to avoid harsh chemicals.

1. Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is a natural powder that dehydrates and kills lungworms. Add 1 teaspoon of food-grade diatomaceous earth to your cat’s food daily. It’s safe for cats and helps eliminate lungworms from the digestive system. For the best results, continue using it for at least 3-4 weeks after symptoms disappear to fully eliminate the infestation.

2. Raw Garlic

Garlic has natural antifungal and antiparasitic properties. Adding 1/4 teaspoon of minced raw garlic to your cat’s food daily can help kill lungworms. However, garlic may irritate the stomach in high amounts, so start with a tiny amount and slowly increase the dosage over time based on your cat’s tolerance. Discontinue use if you notice any digestive upset.

3. Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds contain a compound called cucurbitacin that paralyzes parasites. Grind 1-2 teaspoons of raw, organic pumpkin seeds and add to your cat’s food daily. The ground seeds are more effective since the cucurbitacin is concentrated in the seed’s embryo. Pumpkin seeds are safe for most cats but may cause digestive upset in some. Watch your cat closely when first starting them.

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4. Turmeric

Turmeric has powerful anti-inflammatory and antiparasitic properties. Add 1/4 teaspoon of ground turmeric root or 1/2 teaspoon of fresh grated turmeric to your cat’s food daily. Turmeric helps reduce inflammation in the lungs caused by the lungworm infestation. It may stain the coat yellow, but the color will fade over time. Turmeric is non-toxic to cats but can irritate the stomach in large amounts. Start with a small amount and gradually increase the dosage.

Using these natural remedies, along with veterinary treatment, can help eliminate lungworm infestation in your cat and provide relief from symptoms. Be patient through the process, as complete elimination of an infestation can take weeks to months. With time and consistency, your cat will be back to full health.

Tips to Prevent Lungworm Infection in Cats

Prevention is always better than cure. The good news is there are several things you can do to reduce the risk of your cat getting lungworm.

1. Use worming treatments regularly

The most important step is to use broad-spectrum worming treatments that specifically target lungworms, especially in the spring and summer when slugs and snails are most active. Treat your cat for lungworms every month during warmer weather. The medication you use should contain moxidectin, milbemycin oxime or fenbendazole which are effective against lungworm.

2. Don’t give raw meat

Feed your cat a balanced, high-quality cat food rather than raw meat. Raw meat may contain lungworm larvae and other parasites that can infect your cat. Cooked meat is safer if you want to give your cat occasional meat-based treats.

3. Control slugs and snails

Try to reduce slugs and snails in your garden, yard and any area where your cat may hunt or eat them. Pick up food bowls, water bowls and anything else that can hold standing water. Empty and refill water bowls daily to avoid providing breeding spots for slugs and snails. You should also consider using pet-friendly slug and snail bait or traps around the yard.

4. Keep cats indoors at night

Cats are more likely to eat slugs and snails at night when they are actively hunting. Keeping your cat indoors, especially at night and during rainy, damp weather, can help prevent them from hunting and eating slugs or snails infected with lungworm larvae. If your cat must go outside, inspect them when they come back in to ensure they did not eat any slugs or snails.

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5. Take your cat for regular checkups

Take your cat for regular veterinary checkups and deworming. Your vet can check for any signs of lungworm infection and test your cat’s stool for parasite eggs if needed. Early diagnosis and treatment of lungworm infection is critical, so routine veterinary care and deworming are highly recommended for prevention and monitoring.

Following these tips and using monthly worming treatments specifically for lungworms, especially in warm, wet weather, can help reduce the risks of your cat getting infected with this harmful parasite. Be vigilant and take your cat for regular checkups to catch any infection early. Prevention truly is better than cure when it comes to lungworm.

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What are the symptoms of lungworm in cats?

The most common symptoms of lungworm infection in cats include coughing, wheezing or rapid breathing, loss of appetite, lethargy, and weight loss. As the infection progresses, you may notice your cat coughing up blood or mucus. In severe cases, lungworm can lead to pneumonia so contact your vet right away if your cat shows these symptoms.

How did my cat get lungworm?

Cats usually get lungworm by eating infected snails, slugs, or frogs that act as intermediate hosts for the lungworm larvae. So if your cat hunts and eats these small animals, they are at high risk of infection. Lungworm larvae can also be passed from infected cats to other cats through feces.

What natural remedies can I try?

Some natural remedies for lungworm include:

  • Garlic – Garlic has natural deworming properties and can help get rid of lungworm infestations. Mix 1/4 teaspoon of fresh, minced garlic into your cat’s food daily.
  • Diatomaceous earth – This natural powder dehydrates lungworms and helps flush them out of your cat’s system. Add 1 teaspoon to your cat’s food once a day for 7-14 days.
  • Papaya seeds – Ground papaya seeds contain an enzyme called papain that can paralyze lungworms. Grind 1/2 teaspoon of seeds and sprinkle on your cat’s food daily for 2 weeks.
  • Oregano oil – Oregano oil has antifungal and antiparasitic effects. Add 2-3 drops of oregano essential oil to your cat’s food once a day for 10-14 days.
  • Pumpkin seeds – Pumpkin seeds contain a natural deworming compound called cucurbitacin. Grind 2 tablespoons of raw pumpkin seeds and add 1 teaspoon to your cat’s food daily for 7-10 days.

Be sure to also have your vet test another stool sample after treatment to ensure the lungworms have been fully eliminated before stopping any medication. Using natural remedies can help, but should be done under the supervision of your vet.