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Will La Nina Increase Incidence of Heartworm for 2018 in Queensland?

Updated: Jun 11, 2018

Dr Colin Tedman B.Vet.Med



A Question for All Pet Owners And Vets On The Sunshine Coast


Will the La Nina effect of increased possible rainfall in 2018 over Qld increase the risk of Heartworm incidence on pet cats and dogs on the Sunshine Coast?


All pet owners living on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland need to ponder this. With higher than average rainfall predicted by the Bureau of Meteorology due to the current La Nina effect, this should be a concern to not only pet owners, but also to Veterinarians in Qld. 


Some mosquitoes do carry Heartworm and unfortunately, when looking for a “host” carrier, your pets become a target! The Mosquito and Arbovirus Research Committee have discovered that, “the local mosquitoes, including species in southern Queensland (Ochlerotatus notoscriptus and Culex annulirostris) have been shown to be highly susceptible to infection and have close contact with dogs in domestic and peridomestic urban and rural situations”.

Dogs especially can catch Heartworm if they have not had effective treatment with any form of prevention. Heartworm can be fatal and an article in 2011 from the Australian Veterinary Association states:

Incidence of the disease can rise when temperatures and mosquito numbers increase. “We recommend dog owners visit their local vet to find the most appropriate treatment for their animal. While prevention can be as easy as a once a year injection, if a dog is infected, it becomes very hard to treat and can become potentially lethal.”


What Is Heartworm?


We’ve put together an information sheet that has a full explanation. You can find out everything you need to know about Heartworm and pet care in our guide, and watch this educational video about the infection.  

How To Prevent Heartworm


So what can you as the pet owner do to help your loved cat or dog? Don’t be alarmed, prevention is the best solution. For Heartworm prevention for your dog, I recommend all “preventative” treatment advice and products be sought out from your Veterinarian. All Vets at Caloundra Vet are up to date with the latest heartworm preventative treatments. There are a variety of options for preventing a heartworm infection. These include a yearly injectable, monthly topicals and monthly chewable or flavoured tablets. These preventative medications are extremely effective. When given properly, on a regular basis as per Veterinarian and manufacturers recommended guidelines, they can prevent your pet from contracting heartworm.


Sunshine Coast Vets Recommendations


At Caloundra Vet Surgery we have a well-practiced policy. When your dog has not been on any previous Heartworm treatment, or if you have forgotten doses, our Vet’s will do a blood test. Once the results are ascertained, then recommended treatment from our Vets can be commenced.

Another recommendation is to have a look around your back yard for mosquito breeding areas. Search for any stagnant water that could be harbouring mosquito larvae. Be wary of empty pot holders, tyres, and basically anything that could hold water and become a breeding ground.

The Sunshine Coast Council has great downloadable fact sheets on what they are doing in your area for mosquito control, with a map as to where high mosquito numbers reside on the Sunshine Coast.

There's a lot you can do for your dog or cat in regards of Heartworm prevention. This includes preventative treatment, and taking responsibility in your own yard to prevent mosquito breeding. However, if mosquitoes are an issue where you live, contact your local Council.

If you have concerns, call our friendly Vet Nurses and Vets on (07) 54 927 997 at Caloundra Vet Surgery. They can help you on your way to assisting your dog and cat become Heartworm-free.


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