Booval Veterinary Hospital vet Trinity Roberts checks the health of Lilly’s heart as vets prepare for an outbreak of heartworm following the floods.
Booval Veterinary Hospital vet Trinity Roberts checks the health of Lilly’s heart as vets prepare for an outbreak of heartworm following the floods. David Nielsen

Flood raises heartworm risk

IPSWICH pet owners have been encouraged to protect their best friend against heartworm following the flood crisis.

Heartworm is a parasite that is passed from animal to animal by the bite of a mosquito.

Australian Veterinary Association Queensland president Dr Jodie Wilson said the significant mosquito numbers brought on by the floods would result in an increased risk of the disease.

“Incidents of the disease can rise when temperatures and mosquito numbers increase,” Dr Wilson said.

“Currently, the aftermath of the Queensland flood crisis has meant that the climate is ripe for an increase in mosquito and heartworm numbers.”

She recommended dog owners visit their local vet to find the most appropriate treatment for their animal.

“While prevention can be as easy as a once-a-year injection, if a dog is infected it becomes very hard to treat and can become potentially lethal,” Dr Wilson said.

Booval Veterinary Hospital partner Dr Craig Render said given the disease was spread by mosquitoes no pet was immune from contracting it.

“All dogs and cats are at risk if they are not protected,” he said.

“Even animals which are considered to be indoor-only can contract heartworm.

“It is a disease which can cause problems associated with heart and lung function and sudden death.”

Dr Render said there were a variety of treatments available to help protect dogs and cats from the disease, with treatment able to start from 12 weeks of age.

Signs of heartworm can include lethargy or general tiredness, tiring easily with exercise, coughing, loss of appetite and an enlarged or swollen abdomen.

People who suspect their pet may be infected are encouraged to talk to their vet about treatment immediately.



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