Our Office Heartworm Policy
Here in Michigan, we understand when our clients have a hard time justifying heartworm prevention through the winter months when our mosquito populations are scarce. For that reason we have only required prevention 9 months our of the year (April-December) and a heartworm test only in cases of a lapse in coverage. However, with increases in heartworm disease and tick-borne illness, we are now requiring a heartworm test at least every other year whether the pet has been covered through just the high risk months or year round.
We use IDEXX’s 4DX snap tests, which not only test for heartworm disease, but tickborne illnesses such as Lyme, Erlichia canis, Erlichia ewingi, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, and Anaplasma platys.
Heartworm disease is a potentially life-threatening condition spread by mosquitoes. Mosquitoes can travel up to 3 miles and can spread infection quite easily. Worst of all, it only takes one disease-carrying mosquito to transmit this disease.
If your pet is not on a heartworm preventative, the risk of contracting this potentially fatal disease significantly increases. The American Heartworm Society recommends heartworm prevention monthly without missing any dosages through out the entire year. Heartworm treatment can be harsh, expensive and traumatic to your pet’s health, so prevention is key!
Based on your life style and environment, we can assist you in finding the perfect heartworm prevention. Our clinic carries a wide collection of only the best heartworm preventatives. Administration can be as easy as giving a chewable tablet each month, a monthly topical, or a 6 month injectable given at our clinic. We strive to cater to the pets needs while also keeping affordability in mind. Different companies will often have discount coupons if you buy in bulk, so please ask about these promotions!
Heartworm Policy FAQ’s
My pet just had this test done in June of last year, why am I being told to test this year as well?
The 4DX checks for the presence of a specific heartworm antigen, that is only released from adult female heartworms. When a pet is bit by an infected mosquito, microfilaria is injected into the bloodstream. These are heartworm larvae. These larvae are not mature adults until at least 6-9 months post infection, at which point the antigen test would likely show positive. So let’s say your pet was not on any prevention, tested negative in June of the previous year and then placed on a preventative, we would want to test again at least 6-9 months later. This is because if your pet was infected in April, May, or even the beginning of June, it wouldn’t show up positive until at least December.
Can I opt out of heartworm testing and just buy the medication, accepting the risks?
In the past, we have accepted signing of a Heartworm Test Waiver. We hope to eliminate this completely in the future, but as for now, if your pet has been on prevention, and you are adamantly refusing to test, we will allow you to sign the waiver for THIS YEAR ONLY. There will be large note placed in you chart that you will be allowed to purchase prevention for THIS YEAR ONLY, and will be REQUIRED to test next year.
How much does this test cost?
Prices are constantly changing on products, tests, and other services, and usually have much to do with our costs. The 4DX test is roughly $32-$35.
Is there going to be an office visit charge tacked on to the testing too?
Not unless there are other reasons for your visit. Generally, you can schedule a 4DX test with a Technician Only. If you are here for only a Heartworm Test, and suddenly inform us that Fido has an ear infection, a torn nail, and a broken tooth, then the appointment becomes more involved, and yes, you will be charged an office visit fee. Please also keep in mind that for staff safety, we require that all dogs be current on Rabies vaccines.
How much does prevention cost?
Depending on your life style, preference, and the size of your pet, prevention costs roughly $5-$20 every month.
Can’t I just do the testing, and treat if my dog tests positive?
Heartworm disease can be fatal, and the treatment for the disease can be very stressful on your pet. Also, treating heartworm disease can easily cost over $800. Ultimately it is your decision.