An elderly couple in North Queensland has been badly injured after trying to break up a fight between their dog and a wild goanna, in which the dog was ultimately killed.

The 72-year-old man underwent surgery after being bitten by the goanna, while his wife was treated for her injuries at the Proserpine Hospital.

The couple’s dog was killed during the attack. It is naturally assumed that his cause of death was due to the aggravated goanna’s biting.

CQ Rescue said the man was flown to the Mackay Base Hospital overnight with significant leg and arm injuries after the incident at Flametree, near Airlie Beach on Thursday afternoon.

“The reptile suddenly turned on them, latching onto the man’s right arm and leg as well as biting the woman’s leg,” a spokesman said.

“The man suffered a very serious laceration and possible fracture of his right forearm as well as severe bleeding from his leg wound. He was in considerable pain.”

The rescue service described the attack as “a horrific and freak ordeal”.

If provoked by the dog, the goanna would have begun to bite and even slash at the couple and their pet.

Queensland Ambulance Service Senior Operations Supervisor Shane Tucker said the claws of the goanna would have caused this serious damage.