Heartworms can be harmful to your pet’s health, causing damage to their heart and other internal organs. It’s important to have your pet tested regularly for heartworms so we can effectively prevent or treat an infection. With these pesky creatures, prevention is always easier than trying to cure them.
How do you test for heartworms?
The only way to confirm if your pet has heartworms is with a blood test. We’ll use an antigen to detect heartworm protein in your pet’s bloodstream. Only after 5 months of your pet being infected with heartworms can the test detect them. (That’s the time span it takes for heartworms to fully develop as adults.) Once heartworm is an adult, they can live anywhere from 5 to 7 years in your pet, growing up to 12 inches long. Dogs are naturally better hosts for heartworms since their bodies are more conducive to these parasites but that doesn’t mean cats aren’t at risk. Both furry friends should be tested for heartworms.
When should my pet get tested?
We highly recommend your pet get tested before starting a heartworm prevention medication. If your pet is infected while taking the medication, it could create health complications for them. Once your pet is regularly taking their heartworm prevention medication, it’s important to give it to them every month as prescribed. If your pet misses a dose, you will need to get your pet tested. Even in that small window of missing a dose, there’s still a chance of getting infected. Additionally, if your pet lives in an area where the risk of heartworms is high, they should get tested every season. Otherwise, pets should be tested every year. If you’re interested in getting your pet tested, please contact us at 604-464-6666.
How do heartworms affect my pet?
Heartworms can cause long-term health conditions for your pet, including heart disease. You should contact our veterinary team immediately if you notice any of these signs in your pet:
- Unexplained tiredness
- Difficulty breathing
- Looking unwell