We recently took our dog in for her annual vet exam and the vet wanted to perform blood work before renewing her prescription for heartworm preventatives. Why do vets require an annual check of dogs’ blood for heartworms–even if they’ve been on a preventative?
Questioning Blood Work in Forest Pines
Dear Questioning Blood Work,
I can certainly understand your suspicion surrounding (what seems like) unnecessary blood work which can be expensive and create extra anxiety for both your dog and you! The fact of the matter is that all vets require yearly blood testing for heartworms. The month of April just so happens to be “Heartworm Awareness Month,” so now is as good a time as any to discuss how heartworm prevention works and why vets require a blood test every year.
Lapses in Heartworm Prevention Are Dangerous
As you probably know, heartworms are transmitted by mosquitoes. 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.
Resistance to Heartworm Preventatives Is a Growing Issue
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.
Prevention Is Guaranteed By Pharmaceutical Manufacturers
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.
Did You Know?
On Saturday, May 12, Friends For Life Animal Shelter will be hosting a Super Saturday Adoption Event at the shelter. At this super-sized adoption event, extra dogs will be on hand to meet and connect with, as well as adoption counselors standing by to facilitate a “love match.” The shelter’s collection of lovely and adoptable kitties will also be there to visit with as well. If you’ve been thinking about adopting, this is a wonderful opportunity to meet the dog or cat of your dreams! To learn more, go to www.friends4life.org/adopt/
Do you have a question for Tabby? Email her at email@example.com
Pet of the Week
Meet Armina. This stunning shepherd-mix was saved off the streets where she scraped by while raising her seven puppies. Now that she doesn’t have to worry about where her next meal is coming from, Armina is ready to settle into the “good life” with a caring family of her own who can snuggle with and indulge her with a regular brisk walk or jog. Armina has impeccable house manners and loves her people intensely. To learn more go to www.k9angelsrescue.org.