Deadly heartworm disease

When it comes to potentially deadly heartworm disease, prevention is better than treatment

It is important that vets and dog owners discuss preventative care options. Recently, an expert panel in Australia has developed the first heartworm prevention guidelines to remind people of the real risk of the disease.

At this stage, there are no known cases of Heartworm Disease in New Zealand. However, the Ministry of Primary Industries does advise that New Zealand has mosquitos that are necessary for transmission.

What is Heartworm Disease?

Heartworm or scientifically called, Dirofilaria immitis, is a parasitic worm that is spread between animals through mosquito bites. Heartworm is spread by mosquitos. A mosquito bites an infected animal and when that mosquito bites a second animal, the tiny heartworm larvae are injected into the animal’s skin and the larvae develop in the animal’s tissues. The heartworm typically resides in the heart and lungs of an infected animal and seriously affect the host animal by causing damage to the animal’s tissue which leads to infection and sometimes death.


Heartworm disease is easily prevented through medication which can come in many forms including tablets, ‘spot on’ treatments or injections, that can be administered daily, monthly, or annually. Year-round prevention is recommended.

Is your pet at risk?

If your pet is travelling overseas and has not received heartworm medication then yes, your pet is at risk. Heartworm most often affects dogs, but it can also infect cats, wolves, coyotes, foxes and other animals. In very rare circumstances heartworm can infect humans.

The most common signs include:

  • Unusual laziness or lethargy
  • Lack of endurance when exercising
  • Coughing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Enlarged abdomen

Petcover policyholders are able to travel with their pets to “agreed” countries for a specified period of time. This may include country’s known for Heartworm disease. If you are travelling overseas with your pet, contact your veterinarian today to discuss heartworm disease and how you can protect your pet from this deadly parasite.

How Petcover can help your pet

Petcover specialises in offering quality, straightforward pet insurance with a range of policy options that suit your needs. Whether your pet is big or small, furry or scaly our range of cover options are packed with added benefits. Accidents can happen at any time and the reality of veterinary costs can come a quite a shock. With our range of cover levels for dogscats, and horses why not get a quote today.