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What’s the need for heartworm testing?
Most responsible pet owners understand the importance of having their dogs tested for certain medical conditions as well as keeping them on track with their vaccinations and preventative pet drugs. However, some pet parents might not be aware of how often their dogs need to be tested for heartworms – especially if they are already on monthly heartworm medication.
Heartworms are a condition that is spread by infected mosquitoes which then bite animals, releasing the heartworm larve into a dog's bloodstream. From here, the parasites make their way to the heart and then to their final resting area in the animal's lungs where they grow into adult worms. From this point, untreated worms can breed and then send out the new larve into the dog's bloodstream where they can be picked up by mosquitoes that can then go on to bite more pets. This vicious cycle causes serious health issues for dogs and cases of heartworms have been found in all 50 states, making it a national problem.
Even if dogs are on heartworm preventative medications such as Revolution or Sentinel, they can still be at risk for getting the deadly parasites. Because of this, the American Veterinary Heartworm Society and many veterinarians around the U.S. recommend dogs get tested for heartworm disease at least once a year.
A main reason behind the annual testing is that even though most preventative measures are very accurate, no treatment is 100 percent effective against the parasites. This means that no matter what, your pup does have the potential of developing heartworms.
Another concern among veterinarians regarding heartworm medication is that there has been evidence that some forms of the worms have grown resistant to the medicine. Some of the medication that has shown failure has been taken off the market, however testing the dog annually is the only surefire way to make sure it hasn't developed the serious medical condition.
Signs that your dog might have gotten heartworms even while on preventive medication include the dog breathing heavily due to the infestation in its lungs, it may also be acting less active than usual. If you notice any of these symptoms you should bring the dog to the vet right away for testing, as the problem can get worse, fast. You might also want to help boost your dog's immune system by starting it on daily supplements like NaturVet Digestive Enzymes with Prebiotics and Probiotics that might help ward off other parasites or diseases.