Heartworms are harmful parasites that can cause long term health issues for your pet. Regular testing helps us detect an infection early on and increase our ability to treat your pet effectively. In addition to regular testing, it is recommended that you stay vigilant about the signs of a heartworm infection as well as ensuring your pet is on a parasite protection plan.
How do you test for heartworms?
Heartworm testing includes a heartworm antigen test, which is a blood test used to detect proteins that adult worms leave in your pet’s blood. An infection is only detectable 6 to 7 months after heartworms have been inside your pet since that’s the time it takes for them to fully develop. It only takes 1 to 3 heartworms living in your pet’s heart for a positive test. In addition to bloodwork, X-rays can also detect heartworms. We typically look for an enlarged heart or pulmonary artery, which connects the heart and lungs, as an indication of an infection. We mainly test adult pets since heartworms are less likely in puppies or kittens below 6 months old. Though dogs are the most common heartworm hosts, it’s also possible for cats to have them.
What are the signs of heartworm disease?
If you notice any of the signs below in your pet, especially over a prolonged period of time, it’s important to contact us immediately at 519-941-6383. Early detection allows us to effectively treat heartworms in your pet’s pulmonary artery and heart. Some signs to look out for include:
- Enlarged stomach
- Weight loss
- Constant coughing
- Difficulty breathing