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Heartworm Testing for Pets

Heartworm testing allows us to determine if your pet has these creepy crawlies. Heartworms can be harmful to our furry friends. Especially for dogs living in regions with high concentration of heartworms, there’s almost a 100% prevalence rate. Though they used to be rare for cats, heartworms are more common in cats now. Heartworm testing is the only way to confirm if your pet has an infection.

My pet already takes preventatives. Why do they need heartworm testing?

Even if your pet is given them, regular heartworm testing during checkups are the only way to ensure they’re heartworm-free. No preventive medication works perfectly, especially if your pet misses a dose or isn’t given their preventive medication on time. For dogs, a routine blood test can detect heartworms. If a dog is given preventives while they have a heartworm infection, the outcome could be fatal. For cats, our veterinary team might need to perform a few different tests to diagnose heartworms. Blood tests aren’t usually a good indication of a heartworm infection of cats because they tend to have a negative test.

How are heartworms transmitted?

Heartworms are transmitted via mosquitoes. The mosquito injects small eggs into your pet, which develop into adult worms that can grow up to 18 inches. The worms live in your pet’s heart. For dogs, early symptoms include coughing but get progressively worse to include heart failure, weight loss and unfortunately, death. Symptoms manifest differently in cats, including coughing, vomiting and death.

How can I protect my pet against heartworms?

In addition to heartworm testing, we recommend your pet using a monthly preventative. Treating heartworms is extremely expensive and could cause your canine friend lots of pain. For cats, there is no treatment for heartworms currently. In this case, prevention is far more effective than trying to cure an infection. We have several excellent medications we can recommend to prevent heartworms, if they’re taken as directed. Though most medications are taken orally, there are topical and injectable options. Please schedule an appointment with our veterinarians by contacting us at 604.544.7387 to discuss which preventative medication is best for your pet.

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