rspca

Protect your pet’s heart from Heartworm

Animal Welfare Pet Care Pets Pet Health Posted Jan 18, 2022
Heartworm can be a deadly disease to your furry friend, but with the right amount of prevention, you can keep the worms away.

What is heartworm?

Heartworm is a parasitic worm that can infect your pet through just one mosquito bite! An infected mosquito injects larvae into bloodstream.

Over the last six months at the RSPCA Queensland, we’ve seen 56 positive cases of dogs with heartworm. There are currently 22 dogs in care receiving treatment or recovering from heartworm.

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Heartworm Hot Spots

Dogs and cats cat contract heartworm anywhere a mozzie can go, but we’ve seen a spike over recent months across certain suburbs with dogs contracting heartworm.

Deception Bay, Ipswich, Mackay, and Townsville. Cairns is also another area that frequently has cases year-round.

It is important to make sure your pet is well protected from these nasty parasites! Prevention is the best form of protection for your beloved pets. Heartworm is a slow onset disease meaning months or potentially years could pass before the signs become clear. When symptoms do start to show, your furry friend could have a large amount of heartworm and it’s difficult to treat with severe consequences. Worms can cause heart and lung failure.

Heartworm preventatives

The best form of treatment for your four-legged friends is prevention. Diagnosing heartworm can be challenging, especially in cats.

There are many heartworm preventatives that are available for both dogs and cats, like Comfortis Plus. Prevention should begin at six to eight weeks of age. Some forms come in a chewable tablet or as spot-on application. There are tablets or spot-on application for cats as well to prevent heartworm. Some tablets even cover other parasites such as intestinal worms and fleas, so you can fully protect your pet!

You can also ask your vet about the best preventative method for your pet and ask about yearly heartworm preventative injections for dogs.

Other tips to help prevent your pet getting heartworm:

  • Keep your cat indoors.
  • Don’t let stagnant water sit around your property, it’s a breeding zone for mosquitoes. Empty and replace water frequently - bird baths, water troughs and any containers.

Heartworm treatment

The sad reality is, heartworm is much harder to treat than other worms.

RSPCA Queensland Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Anne Chester advises, “Once your pet has contracted heartworm, it can take months to rectify and treatment can be expensive. I cannot stress enough that heartworm is a serious disease, most common in dogs. But cats can contract the parasite too.”


Sophie Oxford
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