Dog owners in Orange have been encouraged to have their pets checked for heartworm.
Those that are treated are never the same dogDr Judith Carney, Orange veterinarian
It follows the detection of the disease in foxes at Molong and Cudal after a blood testing program.
Mulberry Lane Vet Clinic veterinarian Dr Judith Carney said while the risk was still low in Orange she recommended heartworm testing.
She said the fox detection occurred about two years ago locally.
“That’s a little too close,” she said.
“I have tested positive a dog that has lived in Orange all its life,” she said.
“It never used to be thought of.”
However, she said with people moving from warmer areas, including Queensland, to Orange and bringing dogs with them, the risk of heartworm being introduced had increased.
“It only takes one unprotected dog to bring heartworm to Orange.”
Dr Carney said many of her clients were agreeing to the tests for their dogs.
“I haven’t had many test positive, a few, less than 10 per cent.
“I think really we have to say there is a low risk but there still is a risk.”
She said that as the disease was spread by mosquitoes the risk of it being transferred increased in the warmer months.
Dr Carney said it could affect all breeds of dog and was a serious, and ultimately deadly disease.
“Heartworm, is a worm that affects the heart, and the lungs.
“Those that are treated are never the same dog.
“The dogs suffer from heart failure.”
She said cats also could get heartworm but the risk was lower.
Dr Carney said prevention was via a monthly tablet or a yearly injection with many owners favouring the injection.
Both Mulberry Lane and the Canobolas Family Pet Hospital, which highlighted the new risk of heartworm in its weekly column in the Central Western Daily last Saturday, are offering free heartworm tests.
The Canobolas Family Pet Hospital’s website says there are signs to indicate whether your dog has heartworm.
“These signs may include coughing, shortness of breath, reduced ability to exercise and abdominal distension,” it said.
“Infection with heartworm can only be detected once adult heartworm are present, six months after infection has occurred.”