Why should I test my dog annually for heartworm?
This is a question that is frequently asked either on the phone or at the front desk.
At the Brantford Vet Clinic we believe your pet should be tested annually, and I would like to explain why.
As you know, no medication is 100% effective. For easy comparison, we liken this analogy to birth control. How many instances have you heard where someone became pregnant while taking birth control? Well, the same risk exists with heartworm prevention. Even if you have been diligent about administering your heartworm prevention there is always a small risk of infection occurring regardless. We have all see cases like this. Therefore, we recommend the test as a way of making 100 % certain your dog is not infected before you begin giving prevention for another season.
Why can’t I test every other year then?
The simple answer is you can, but not without consequence. We do offer our clients the option of signing a waiver if they have had two negative tests consecutively. A waiver can be signed every other year after two negative tests.
However, clients should be aware that when you purchase your prevention (heartworm medications) you aren’t just purchasing prevention – it comes with a guarantee! The drug companies guarantee their products to prevent heartworm when administered correctly. Therefore if your dog does become infected while using prevention, the drug company agrees to pay for the cost of the treatment required. However, this guarantee is negated if you don’t do annual testing, which is the consequence I spoke about above. Also, if your pet were infected, another year would pass before that was detected.
It is our clinic policy to only allow waivers under these circumstances. We acknowledge that clients should have the right to choose to do a waiver, but only every other year. Our doctors simply believe the risk to your pet is too great otherwise, and they are unwilling to put your pet in danger.
Brantford is second only to Caledonia in the stats for the highest number of heartworm positives in the country so the risk is truly magnified because of where we live.
Hopefully this will clarify that common question for our clients, and help them make an informed decision. We only want to give your pet the best chance possible at a long healthy life!
by Bev Dungey
Brantford Veterinary Clinic