Pets should have regular testing to detect the presence of heartworms. Heartworms can cause heartworm disease, a potentially life-threatening condition that could negatively impact your pet’s quality of life. However, with heartworm testing, we can detect these parasites in their early stages, reducing the potential threat to your pet’s health.
How do pets get infected?
When an infected mosquito bites your pet, heartworms are passed on to them. Heartworms affect not only your pet’s heart, lungs, and vessels but their entire body. Depending on the life stage or amount of heartworms infecting your pet, they could have different symptoms. Heartworm testing is essential, even if your pet doesn’t have any of the following symptoms of early infection:
- Constant coughing
- Weight loss
- Difficulty breathing
- Protruding ribs
How is a heartworm test administered?
To test for heartworms, we’ll take a blood sample and test it for antigens (proteins) or microfilae (immature heartworms). Tests can typically detect a heart infection at least 5 to 6 months after the initial infection. There are a few reasons our veterinary team could recommend that your pet get tested: before starting heartworm medication, if your pet misses a dosage of their monthly preventive, and/or if you have travelled to or live in an area with a high rate of heartworm disease. If you have questions about heartworm testing, please contact us at 204-346-1429.
Why does my pet need testing before starting heartworm medication?
Your pet should be tested for heartworm infection before they are placed on a preventive to avoid any harmful or possibly fatal complications. For instance, if a heartworm-infected dog is started on monthly preventative, immature heartworm can die suddenly, causing a serious, shock-type reaction. In addition, preventives won’t kill adult heartworms, so an infected dog needs to be started on a treatment plan.