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Heartworm Test For Dogs

Heartworm Test For Dogs - Information on Dog Heartworm Test Types and Cost

A heartworm test for dogs is helpful in detection of the parasites known as dirofilaria immitis, commonly referred to as heartworm.

This parasite is detected in the bloodstream of dogs and is known to cause symptoms such as weight loss, appetite loss, coughing, breathing difficulties and heart disease.

Dog Heartworm Test

A dog heartworm test should not be done on animals below 7 months of age as the antigens for the parasite are detected only seven months after infection. A dog heartworm test every year is important, especially in case of dogs that do not get preventive medication. Testing is also important when there are changes in preventive treatment.

Types of Dog Heartworm Testing

Dog heartworm testing involves two types of tests. A microfilaria test is used to detect the presence of baby worms in the bloodstream. The heartworms that thrive in the pulmonary arteries produce these worms. The heartworm serology test helps to detect the proteins produced by adult heartworms in the bloodstream.

This is a highly sensitive test and known to be very accurate. It must be done on all dogs so that heartworm infection can be ruled out. Even in cases where the microfilaria test yields negative results, heartworm serology is essential as they may be a hidden or occult infection. A heartworm infection may be hidden when the worms are still young and do not reproduce. Sometimes the infection may be caused by only male or only female worms. The infection remains occult even in these cases. Heartworm infection may also be occult when the immune system of the dog actively destroys all the baby worms as they are produced or when the dog has received medications that kill the worms.

Dog Heartworm Test Cost

The heartworm test is performed by obtaining a blood sample. A microfilaria test is done by combining some amount of blood with a certain chemical and then passing the solution through a filter. The filter is then studied under the microscope to detect the presence of baby worms. In the serology test, some amount of blood is mixed with another chemical and then placed on a special test filter paper which contains heartworm specific antibodies. Dog heartworm test cost may vary from one clinic to another. Most veterinary hospitals perform the kits in-house as they have the instruments. Some vets may need to send the sample to another laboratory for examination. The test usually lasts for about 15 minutes and the results may be available in a couple of days.

  Submitted on January 24, 2012