Avoid Giving Your Dog Heartworm Medicine Without Testing
This is a common question that gets asked of veterinarians. Why can’t we give dogs heartworm medicine without getting a blood test done? An extra test can put more strain on a dog owner’s wallet but it’s worth noting that the cost of a blood test + medicine is a lot lower than the cost of having to treat heartworm problems in dogs.
There are several reasons why dogs shouldn’t be given heartworm medicine without testing. First, it’s important to note that heartworm medicine does not kill off adult heartworms. It only works on the heartworm larvae. Without getting a test done, you or the vet won’t ever know the severity of the heartworm problem (if your dog happens to have it) and whether the medicine would even help depending on the life stage of the worms inside.
Another reason has to do with the risks of the dog developing a shock-like reaction as a result of the preventive medication. The purpose of the blood test is to detect the presence of proteins specific to heartworms (also referred to as antigens). If a dog happens to already have a lot of heartworm larvae in his body and the preventive medicine suddenly kills off all of the larvae, this may trigger a dangerous reaction in the dog’s body. Doing the blood test could help reduce the likelihood of this happening as the vet will have a better understanding of your dog’s situation.
Please don’t take heartworm medicine lightly and make sure you make an education decision after consulting with the vet.