Pet owners who stop treating their dogs for heartworm in the cooler months are putting them at serious risk, a veterinarian has warned.
Dr Mark Perissinotto is urging pet owners in the Narromine Shire to continue heartworm treatments all year round to avoid any beloved pets from becoming infected with the life-threatening disease.
“Many pet owners stop administering their pet’s heartworm preventive in the cooler months thinking that their pet is safe, but by doing this they are putting them in high danger of contracting the deadly disease,” he said.
People also have a perception that heartworm is only a threat to pets living in tropical climates, however there has actually been an increasing number of cases further south.
Spreading may be due to dogs frequently travelling interstate as well as the possibility of adaptation of heartworm to colder climates.
Mosquitoes are responsible for spreading heartworm disease and while they are more prevalent in warm weather, dogs can get infected at any time of the year.
Heartworm disease can be fatal if left undiagnosed or untreated and while pets’ have a special place in our hearts, it seems some pet owners are a little too carefree when it comes to taking care of theirs.
Dr Perissinotto said heartworm disease can be prevented with the administration of a once a month heartworm preventative.
“Adult dogs must be tested for heartworm before commencing a heartworm preventive. Puppies younger than four months can begin treatment without first being tested,” he said.
“Prevention of heartworm disease is one of the most important aspects of health care for your dog.’’
Symptoms of heartworm include:
Fluid in the abdomen, which makes them look pot-bellied.