Why yearly heartworm testing is a must

May 14, 2020
dvm360 Staff

Your clients might question the need for annual heartworm testing if their dog has been on a preventive throughout the year. Now you can give them the answers easily.

Pet owners whose dogs receive a heartworm preventive every month may scoff at your suggestion of an annual heartworm check. But the reality is that testing for heartworm helps both pets and their owners in the long run, and here’s why.

  • Protection limitations: Heartworm preventives are only effective against certain larval stages of Dirofilaria immitis. Larvae that are too young or too old can still wreak havoc, and testing is the only way to know for sure.
  • Testing limitations: Commercial tests can detect only adult heartworms, so testing annually gives you the chance to detect worms before they cause irreversible heart and lung damage.
  • Resistance: Resistance to heartworm preventives has developed because veterinarians once gave preventives to heartworm-positive dogs in an effort to assuage clinical signs. Yearly testing can be an indicator that there are resistant heartworms in your area.
  • Insurance: Manufacturers will often cover the cost of treating canine heartworm disease if it can be proved that the pet was on a regular preventive regimen and tested negative each year for heartworm disease.

Share this handout with your clients to explain these points in more detail and encourage them to bring their dogs in for annual heartworm testing.

Click the image below to download this handout.