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Heartworm Testing for Pets

Early detection of heartworm is key to ensuring your pet's health.

Heartworms are deadly parasites that can infect your pet. These types of worms are more commonly found in dogs than cats. As dogs are the perfect hosts, heartworms can survive for years living inside them and multiplying significantly. Heartworms are transmitted to pets when infected mosquitoes bite them. The mosquito carries larvae which they pass on to pets, and those worms will then mature and reach essential organs such as the heart. To prevent an infection, we recommend prevention medication for our patients.

What are signs that my pet has heartworms?

It is not always easy to spot signs that your pet is infected with heartworms. Some pets can go months without showing symptoms. This is why your veterinarian will recommend routine testing to catch an infection before they multiply and are harder to flush out. Some signs that your pet may have heartworms are:

  1.  Weight loss
  2.  Decreased appetite
  3.  Fatigue
  4.  Reluctance to exercise
  5.  Swollen belly
  6.  Persistent dry cough

Call us at 519-389-2020 if you’ve spotted these signs in your pet. 

How are heartworms diagnosed?

We test for heartworms by performing an antigen test. When your pet has heartworms, they release proteins into the bloodstream. Antigen tests can detect heartworms 6 ½ to 7 months after infection. The veterinarian may also recommend other diagnostic tests like ultrasounds or X-rays to examine the heart and lungs.

When should my pet be tested?

It is recommended that dogs have routine heartworm testing each year. As mentioned before, it takes approximately 6 months to detect this parasite, so your pet should be tested within that time after heartworm season. Your veterinarian will also recommend testing before your pet begins heartworm prevention.

What is heartworm prevention medication?

Heartworm prevention is a great way to protect your pet from infection. Prevention medication can be taken orally or applied to the skin. The medicine needs to be administered according to a strict schedule, as a late or missed dose can leave your pet vulnerable.

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