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Heartworm Testing & Prevention

What is heartworm disease?

Heartworm disease is a serious disease that results in severe lung disease, heart failure, other organ damage, and death in pets (dogs are more likely to contract heartworm than cats). It is spread by a mosquito bite from a mosquito that is carrying heartworm, which is then passed on to your pet. The worms mature into adults, mate, and produce offspring while living inside the heart, lungs, and associated blood vessels of an infected animal.

What prevention is available?

There are a variety of prevention products available and most are given monthly, either as a topical liquid applied on the skin or as an oral tablet.  Both chewable and non-chewable oral tablets are available. Some heartworm preventives contain other ingredients that are effective against certain intestinal worms (such as roundworms and hookworms) and other parasites (such as fleas, ticks, and ear mites). 

What is heartworm testing?

Like most tests in medicine, the testing for heartworm disease is designed to let us know what is going on inside your dog before we see outward signs of the disease. There are few, if any, early signs of disease when a dog or cat is infected with heartworms, so detecting their presence with a heartworm test administered by a veterinarian is important. It is highly recommended to do testing before starting a preventative because for animals who have high numbers of heartworm larvae in their bloodstreams, taking preventative medications can be dangerous as killing off large numbers of larvae can cause allergic reactions in pets.