Have you ever wondered what happens when your dog “goes to the back” for tests during its canine annual visit? We routinely recommend a heartworm and fecal test on all dogs each year. This blog will review the procedure of these tests and why we recommend them yearly.
The heartworm test takes 3 drops of blood to check for the presence of the adult heartworm within your dog. This test works very quickly, within about 10 minutes. A negative test result tells us that your dog is not currently infected with the adult heartworm; however the heartworm larvae takes up to 6 months to develop into an adult, meaning that if your dog was infected with heartworms in the past 6 months, the test may show negative. This is why we recommend yearly testing to ensure that your dog stays negative.
Often, people wonder if they keep their dog mostly indoors, does it still need heartworm prevention? The answer is YES! Heartworms are transmitted by mosquitos, so even indoor-only pets could be exposed when mosquitos get into the house. Also, during our East Tennessee winters, we often have some warm days which allows the mosquitos to come out. This is why we recommend year-round heartworm prevention for all pets. We offer many products for monthly heartworm prevention. Most of these products need to be administered once per month in order to completely protect your dog.
The fecal test uses a small stool sample, which is spun down in a special centrifuge that enables any parasite eggs to rise to the top. That sample is then examined under the microscope to look for the presence of these eggs. If we identify any parasites, we can find the best dewormer to treat the specific infection. An added benefit of the heartworm preventative medications is that most of them also prevent some of the more common intestinal parasites. So, by keeping your dog’s heartworm prevention up to date, you are actually helping to keep them protected from parasites as well. If you prefer, you can bring in a fresh fecal sample (within a few hours) with you to your dog’s appointment to avoid us needing to collect one during the visit.
If you are concerned that your pet may not be up to date on heartworm prevention or if you have further questions about how to protect your dog, please schedule an appointment today!