Heartworm Testing

Your pet needs to have annual heartworm testing. According to the American Heartworm Association, the number of heartworm positive cases continues to rise, especially in the southeastern section of the United States. Heartworm prevention medication for dogs and cats are extremely effective, and are the best opportunity to insure your pet remains free of heartworm disease. However, if you have forgotten to give your pet their heartworm preventative or you have recently adopted a pet of unknown heartworm preventative status, the doctors at Apollo Animal Hospital can use a diagnostic test to tell in minutes whether or not your dog has heartworm disease. Felines are more difficult to diagnose, and will be discussed further in this description below.

Canine Heartworm Testing

Mature heartworms produce a substance known as antigen, which can normally be detected on a heartworm test run at our hospital. Within a few minutes, our veterinarians can complete an antigen test as well as search the blood of your dog under a microscope for immature heartworms (known as “microfilaria”). The doctors at Apollo follow the recommendations set forth by the American Heartworm Society and will retest your dog again in six (6) months to insure your dog is heartworm free, as immature heartworm infections do not always show up initially on antigen testing.

Feline Heartworm Testing

Testing cats for heartworm disease is actually much more difficult than it is for our canine friends. The heartworm tests currently available do not always detect the antigen required for the test, as felines often have few, if any, adult heartworms. Often our feline friends are affected differently than canines, as often damage is done to the lungs of the cat (Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease or “H.A.R.D.”) rather than the heart. Unfortunately, cats are still susceptible to H.A.R.D. at approximately the same rate as canines for heartworm disease, but testing remains difficult. Even when detected, heartworms are not treatable in felines, so prevention is the only answer for our feline friends.

As with many conditions seen at Apollo Animal Hospital, prevention of heartworms is much more effective and less costly than their treatment. Drs. McManus and Hahs attend numerous lectures and seminars each year surrounding the best heartworm preventatives available, and make sure our pharmacy is fully-stocked with only the safest and most effective heartworm preventatives. Call one of our compassionate staff at 256-881-4862 to schedule your dog or cat’s heartworm testing today!