When I went to get my dog’s heartworm meds recently, they said that he needed a heartworm test before they would refill his heartworm medicine prescription. I hadn’t budgeted for extra blood work and am curious if the vet is trying to scam me. What do you think?
Sceptical in Shepherd Park Plaza
I understand how unexpected vet bills can certainly blow your budget–especially when it seems like superfluous testing–but vets recommend doing yearly testing to make sure that heartworms don’t injure your pet…even if you’ve been religious about giving him the preventative medication. Here’s why:
Heartworm preventatives can’t stop mosquitos from carrying heartworm larvae to your dog. Instead, they kill the larvae before they mature, reproduce and cause damage–but, they only work against certain larvae stages. Any larvae too young to be stopped by the preventative at dosing time will not be covered until next month’s dose. Any larvae too old will be able to grow into adults that can’t be killed by preventatives. So, any lapse in dosing could allow a larva to mature. The heartworm test is the only way to know if it is there before serious damage is done.
With a yearly test, you have a chance to catch heartworms before they cause extensive damage to the vessels of the heart and lungs. If you skip testing, you might not know that your dog has contracted heartworms until it shows signs of cardiac impairment and, by then, the damage has been done. Also, resistance to heartworm preventatives is growing. Yearly testing can help prevent resistance development and can help veterinarians know when resistant worms move into the area.
Lastly, heartworm preventative manufacturers offer product guarantees. If your pet gets heartworms and your vet can show that you’ve purchased preventives without lapsing and did yearly testing, the manufacturer will pay for your dog’s treatment. So, while it might seem unnecessary at first, yearly testing for heartworms is a sure-fire way to make sure that your pet stays healthy for years to come.
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