Heartworm disease, as the name suggests, are worms that infect the heart.  In Australia, the prevalence of heartworm disease is highest in subtropical/tropical areas (Darwin up to 100%, Brisbane 34%) and northern temperate areas (Sydney 25%).

Dogs are the most important hosts, but cats may also be susceptible.

It is spread from animal to animal by a mosquito, and the Sunshine Coast is a high risk area.

The heartworm infection is transmitted dog-to-dog by infective mosquitoes which act as vectors for the disease.  Spring and summer mean there are more mosquitoes about, which means that the disease is easily spread at this time of year.

After a bite from an infected mosquito, it takes up to 6 months for the immature stages to become adult heartworms and lodge in the right side of the heart, where they reproduce and live out their life.

If left untreated, this worm burden will eventually cause the heart to fail.  But treatment of this disease is almost as serious as the worm burden itself – when the worms are killed they lodge in the lungs and can cause pneumonia, stroke or even death.

The best way to control heartworm disease is to prevent your pet getting infected in the first place.

There are many heartworm preventatives on the market ranging from daily tablets, monthly tablets/chews, monthly top-spot treatments given to the back of the neck, and a convenient once yearly heartworm injection.

Please contact our friendly staff to discuss which product is best for you and your pet.

If your pet is not currently receiving heartworm prevention, it is most important that you contact Nicklin Way Veterinary Surgery on 5493 2655 to arrange an appointment with a veterinarian.  Your pet will be tested for heartworm disease and then started on an appropriate heartworm prevention.