Heartworm/Tick Blood Tests

posted: by: Dawn, RVT Tags: "Clinic Specials" "News" 

It’s that time of year!  Warm weather is (hopefully) coming our way.  With it comes more people and pets spending time in the great outdoors.  Unfortunately, this also means the insects return.

While fleas are considered a year-round problem, our region of the country gets a break from mosquitoes and ticks for a few months.  Very soon we will be seeing the emergence of heartworm carrying mosquitoes and disease carrying ticks.  So what can you do to protect your pet?

First, a quick review of heartworm disease and tick-borne illnesses.

Heartworm Disease is carried by mosquitoes.  It takes only one bite from one infected mosquito to infect a dog.  All dogs are at risk.  It doesn’t matter how much, if any, time they spend outside.  We see mosquitoes in our homes, so even 100% indoor dogs (and cats!) are at risk.  Even thick coated, fluffy haired dogs are at risk for a mosquito bite.  The persistent insects can and will go through layers of hair to find a blood meal.

Once the infected mosquito bites a dog, larvae circulate in the blood, eventually resulting in worms in the heart.  The collecting worms force the heart to have to work harder to pump enough blood to the rest of the body.  Untreated, heartworm positive dogs will die.  Even though there is treatment for heartworm disease, it’s very hard on the dogs and some may die even with treatment.

There are several tick-borne diseases that are seen in our Midwest region:

                - Lyme Disease:

- transmitted by the Deer Tick (black-legged ticks)

- found in every US state & Canadian province

- dogs are 50% more likely to get Lyme disease than humans

- Ehrlichiosis:

- several strains transmitted by the American Dog Tick, Brown Dog Tick, and the Lone Star Tick

- 2nd most common canine infectious disease in the US (after Parvovirus)

- Anaplasmosis:

                 - transmitted by the Deer Tick (black-legged ticks)

                 - surpassing the prevalence of Lyme disease in some areas of the country

  **please note that all of the above mentioned ticks can carry and transmit other serious infections besides those mentioned.

Symptoms of these tick-borne illnesses are similar, and may remain hidden for awhile after infection.  Symptoms include fever, lameness, swollen joints, anorexia, or depression.   Left untreated, some of these diseases can cause kidney failure, chronic joint pain, anemia, low white blood cell counts and platelets (meaning your dog’s body cannot clot blood well nor fight infection).  Autoimmune diseases, blindness, and even death may also result from untreated infections.

When caught early, tick-borne diseases are often treated with antibiotics.


There are a few ways you can protect your pet, and you, from these serious illnesses.

Regular Tick Checks:  Check your pet daily for ticks!  Check legs, belly, face and ears carefully for ticks and remove any you find right away.

Heartworm Prevention:  Monthly prevention helps protect your pet from heartworms as well as several intestinal parasites that are easily transmitted to pets and humans.

Tick Prevention:  Apply K9 Advantix monthly to your dog. (Frontline Plus, available for dogs as well as a formula for cats, is also labled to prevent ticks).  There are also a few tick collars available.  Read all information and ask your veterinarian for advice on the right product for your pet.

Yearly Blood Test:  Suburban Animal Clinic, as well as the American Heartworm Association, recommends yearly Heartworm Blood Tests.  Did you know we also test your dog for tick-borne diseases also?

Suburban Animal Clinic utilizes the 4Dx snap test which tests for Heartworm Disease as well as the 3 above mentioned tick diseases.  That’s 4 tests in one with only 1 blood sample!  In 10 minutes, we can know that heartworm and tick disease status of your dog.  Yearly testing helps us catch disease or infections early, often before your pet shows signs of the disease.  Early detection improves your pet’s chances for a complete recovery.

No prevention is 100%, but prevention in combination with yearly testing can help us keep your dog happy and healthy!  Ask a Suburban staff member about prevention and testing for these deadly diseases today!

Suburban Animal Clinic is located in West Columbus off I-70 near I-270.  Suburban Animal Clinic serves Galloway, Hilltop, West Side, Georgesville, West Jefferson, Grove CityGrandviewUpper Arlington (including OSU Campus area), Hilliard and Dublin.