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Heartworm Testing for Pets

Heartworm disease prevention is vital to ensuring your pet’s longevity.

Heartworm testing is the only way to definitively detect heartworm in your pet's body. Though dogs are better hosts than cats, it doesn't mean they shouldn't be regularly tested. Heartworm can have potentially life-threatening effects on your pet's health, so regular testing can support early diagnosis and treatment.

What are heartworms?

Heartworms are parasites that enter your pet's body after an infected mosquito bites them. The larvae move through tissues and enter the bloodstream before making their way to your pet's heart. As the worms mature, they reproduce and multiply, with the immature worms flooding your pet's bloodstream. When a pet has heartworm disease, the heartworms have compromised the left ventricle of the heart and pulmonary artery, which is responsible for carrying blood to the lungs.

Do all pets need heartworm testing?

Puppies between 6 to 7 months don't need to be tested because heartworms don't usually infect pets at this age. To test for heartworms, we typically take a blood sample and perform a heartworm antigen test and/or microfilariae test. An antigen test can detect at least one female adult heartworm around 7 months after infection, whereas a microfilariae test confirms the presence of immature heartworms in your pet's bloodstream. We also use X-rays, electrocardiograms, and echocardiography to confirm heartworms. Based on these results, we can recommend the best treatment options for your pet. To learn more about heartworm testing, please contact us at 905-877-2258.

How do I protect my pet from heartworm disease?

In addition to regular testing, your pet should also be on a heartworm preventive. Though heartworm disease is treatable, it can be an expensive and painful process for your pet. Preventing it, when possible, is better than treatment. Our veterinary team will prescribe the best medication for your pet depending on their risk of infection, especially in warmer months.

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