RSPCA issues urgent warning as more pets receive treatment for deadly parasite

Published 11:04am 13 January 2022

RSPCA issues urgent warning as more pets receive treatment for deadly parasite
Words by Ashleigh Howarth

THE RSPCA has issued an urgent warning to pet owners asking them to be on the lookout for symptoms of heartworm after Deception Bay was named as a disease hotspot.

RSPCA Queensland spokesperson Emma Lagoon says there has been an increase in the number of pets needing urgent treatment.

“Heartworm can happen to pets anywhere, but we’re seeing more pets coming into our care from Deception Bay, Ipswich, Mackay and Townsville,” she says.

“Cairns also has regular patients throughout the year with heartworm.

“Mozzies are out in full force and it takes just one bite for an unprotected dog or cat to contract heartworm.

“If left untreated, it can be a death sentence for your beloved pet.”

Over the last six months RSPCA Queensland has treated 56 dogs with heartworm.

Currently, there are 22 dogs in RSPCA Queensland’s care receiving treatment or recovering from the disease.

RSPCA Queensland Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Anne Chester says heartworm is much harder to treat than other worms.

“Once your pet has contracted heartworm, it can take months to rectify and treatment can be expensive,” she says.

“I cannot stress enough that heartworm is a serious disease, most common in dogs. But cats can contract the parasite too.

“Prevention is the best method to protect your pets and avoid serious health issues.”

Tips to prevent heartworm in your pet

• Use a heartworm preventative for your dogs and cats. You can find monthly treatments like Comfortis Plus, spot-on treatments, or ask your vet about annual heartworm prevention injections for dogs.

• 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 such as bird baths, water troughs and any containers.

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