East Bundaberg Veterinary Hospital’s Dr David Challen recommends that dog owners get their pets vaccinated against heartworm.
East Bundaberg Veterinary Hospital’s Dr David Challen recommends that dog owners get their pets vaccinated against heartworm. Max Fleet

Flood of mozzies a killer for pets

WHILE most people’s priority is to their home and family during flooding, the health and safety of pets is also an important consideration.

Dr David Challen of East Bundaberg Veterinary Hospital said that the increased number of mosquitoes that breed during floods may lead to a greater incidence of heartworm in dogs.

As many as 30 species of mosquitoes can transmit heartworm through biting.

Although untreated heartworm disease can be fatal, it is easy to prevent.

“Heartworm prevention is very effective so we don’t see heartworm that often,” Dr Challen said.

“However, people can become complacent during times of hardship and neglect to vaccinate their pet.”

The four preventative treatments for heartworm in dogs are daily tablets, monthly tablets, back-of-neck ointments and annual injections.

Dr Challen recommended annual injections as the least stressful option for pets and owners.

“We encourage people to bring their dogs in once a year for an annual check-up and heartworm injection.”

Adult heartworms live in the heart and lungs of infected dogs, but symptoms can not be detected until six months after the bite.

Symptoms include coughing, wheezing, weight loss, stomach distension and necrosis of the toes.

Dr Challen said pet owners can easily minimise the risk of their dogs being infected with heartworm.

“It takes mosquitoes more than a day to develop, so get rid of water lying around the garden and change your pet’s drinking water every day,” he said.

Heartworm disease is not spread directly from dog to dog, or to humans.

While cats can get heartworm, their immune systems are better equipped to fight off the parasite so preventative treatment is unnecessary.



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