Heartworm Testing

Heartworm testing detects harmful parasites that can wreak havoc on organs like the heart and lungs.

Routine heartworm testing is the only way to accurately diagnose your dog with the parasite. We typically administer heartworm tests yearly. However, if your dog is in between preventatives or could have symptoms of an infection, we’ll take a blood sample and process the test in our laboratory.

What causes heartworm infections?

Mosquitoes can transmit heartworm infection through their bites. Once infected, those heartworms can wreak havoc on your dog. These parasites can severely and sometimes fatally damage the heart, lungs, and blood vessels. Some dogs won't show any signs of infection. In those that do, symptoms can vary widely. Routine testing is crucial in helping us diagnose the potential parasite. We also recommend that dogs take monthly heartworm preventives to prevent potential infection.

What are the signs of an infection?

In dogs, signs of heartworm disease can range from coughing, fatigue, and weight loss to difficulty breathing and a swollen abdomen (caused by fluid accumulation from heart failure). Canine heartworm infection can also lead to a life-threatening complication called “caval syndrome” (a form of liver failure). Without prompt surgical intervention, this condition usually causes death. If your dog has any of these symptoms, please contact us at 613-247-0013.

Are cats as likely to contract heartworms as dogs?

Although often thought to not be susceptible to heartworm infection, cats can indeed get heartworms. Cats can suffer from a syndrome referred to as heartworm-associated respiratory disease (HARD); the symptoms can be subtle and could mimic those of asthma or allergic bronchitis. Signs of respiratory distress, such as rapid or difficult breathing, wheezing, and panting, are common. Other symptoms include coughing, vomiting (typically unrelated to eating), and loss of appetite or weight. Due to the greater challenge in diagnosing heartworm infection in cats compared to dogs, it is strongly advised that cats be protected against this potentially life-threatening condition.

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