It is estimated that a million dogs test positive for heartworms every year in the United States. The severity of this disease is measured in the number of worms that they have. Once infected, a dog may have 30 or more worms in their heart and lungs. Since this is such a serious disease, it’s important for dogs to have regular tests to determine whether or not they are infected.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) states that all dogs are susceptible to acquiring this disease. Their age, sex, or living environment doesn’t make a difference in this regard.
When someone brings a puppy into their home, it’s important to take them to their first appointment with a veterinarian. At this time, the veterinarian may or may not administer a heartworm test. Instead, they will recommend beginning a heartworm prevention regimen.
Since it can take a minimum of 6 months after becoming infected for a dog to test positive, puppies under 7 months of age usually begin these treatments. After a puppy’s initial veterinarian visit, they should have their first heartworm test in 6 months. From then on, heartworm tests can be administered annually to ensure that they aren’t infected. These tests should be administered throughout a dog’s entire lifetime.
Heartworm treatments tend to cost approximately $1,000.00. When puppies take monthly preventative treatments, however, it will cost considerably less.
Veterinarians will recommend the most appropriate preventative method for a puppy or dog, according to the AVMA. Since there are several FDA-approved formulas, veterinarians will evaluate a dog’s lifestyle as well as any risk factors prior to recommending a preventative treatment protocol. Since this disease is so prevalent in the United States, it’s important to follow a veterinarian’s recommendations.
In addition to having a veterinarian administer the test, pet owners can order a heartworm antigen test kit to administer at home. The test would then be submitted to a veterinary laboratory for analysis by their veterinarian.
Veterinary diagnostics companies analyze a variety of medical tests. In addition to determining whether or not a dog has heartworms, veterinary diagnostics companies also screen for other conditions, diseases, and toxins.