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Annual testing for lyme and heartworm?

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  • Annual testing for lyme and heartworm?

    I am a recent-ish transplant to Wisconsin and my vet here recommends doing an annual IDEXX Snap 4Dx and Lyme Disease test. Do you all think those tests are necessary in a dog that seems healthy? FWIW, my dog gets monthly Heartguard and Vectra 3D.

    I will certainly do them if they are important and necessary, but would prefer not to spend the money if they aren't important. I mostly like the vet I'm going to now, but they do seem to err on the side of requiring/recommending a lot more testing than I've done in the past.
    Cascadia- OTTB mare. 04/04-05/10
    If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever

  • #2
    I do them every year. Why not? It's just a simple blood test. Of course ticks & mosquitoes are very prevalent where I live. Not sure about where you are.


    • #3
      As long as I have not missed a heartworm dose my vet does not test for heartworm.
      We only test for Lyme if there are symptoms (or if missed dose of heartworm as it is a combo test)

      He will test a new animal even if the owner claims they have never missed a dose. He wants to have the extra assurance that he dispensed 12 months of heartworm, owner says they gave 12 months and are back a year later not 15 months later. I think he also knows which owners are actually compliant and which are not. Hard to tell with new clients.
      Oh, well, clearly you're not thoroughly indoctrinated to COTH yet, because finger pointing and drawing conclusions are the cornerstones of this great online community. (Tidy Rabbit)


      • #4
        I'm also in WI, and my vet recomends an annual heartworm test if the dog receives a heartworm preventative only for insect season, or a test every other year if the dog receives it year-round.

        The Lyme test they leave up to the owner, but basically recommend it for country dogs or dogs that go hiking/camping a lot, but feel the city couch potato dogs can probably pass on it.
        "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
        -Edward Hoagland


        • #5
          I do it. It is a simple and quick blood test.

          Heartworm meds are not 100% so I recommend testing every year even if on medication.

          My aunt has a little terrier mix that at 16 yrs old is being treated for lymes for the tenth time in Wisconsin.


          • #6
            As long as I have not missed a heartworm dose my vet does not test for heartworm.
            We only test for Lyme if there are symptoms (or if missed dose of heartworm as it is a combo test)
            ditto. Many dogs test positive for Lyme exposure and never develop any kind of disease or symptoms. In my area, practically all dogs test positive, and practically none of them ever exhibit symptoms. There was a study awhile ago that followed seropositive and seronegative dogs over time, and both groups had about 5% of the dogs go lame. Being seropositive is not an indication you should treat for anything.

            And even if you miss a dose of heartworm treatment, it's not necessary to test- one method of treating heartworm infection is to just give the dog monthly heartworm treatment, so if you just keep giving it, it'll clear out the infection before it really develops. Most vets only test the dog if it has an unknown history, or hasn't been on preventatives at all, or if it's known that several doses in a row have been missed.

            The current guidelines for vets do not support screening for Lyme disease, and most vets have stopped annual heartworm tests as unnecessary.


            • Original Poster

              Thanks for the feedback everyone! I certainly don't mind doing them both if they are necessary, but I've had a couple of big financial hits recently so wouldn't mind saving a little money here if I can. I'll talk to my vet about prices when I go in for our appointment on Monday, but I might skip the Lyme and do the heartworm.

              If a dog tests positive for Lyme but isn't showing any symptoms, is it SOP to still treat the dog or is treatment only done if symptoms are present?
              Cascadia- OTTB mare. 04/04-05/10
              If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever


              • #8
                I test every year.


                • #9
                  Our vet tries to do the heartworm/Lyme/Erlichia (sp?) test every year, but I balked last year when $$$ was tight due to a job loss... He skipped it that year when I asked, but this year he tells us it has to be done "at least every other year." (And our dogs are always consistent on their monthly HW and flea/tick preventatives.)

                  For an $80 test when the animal is on consistent preventatives AND is showing no problematic signs or symptoms, I call bullsh*t. BUT, there are other aspects of this vet which I do like, and that outweigh my annoyance on this subject, so we're keeping him (for now, anyway).
                  *friend of bar.ka

                  "Evidently, I am an unrepentant b*tch, possible trouble maker, and all around super villian"


                  • #10
                    My vet does heartworm every 6 months and will only write a 6 month prescription . To add insult to injury the snap test costs the same as the 6 month prescription. Drives me insane but I really trust this guy so I put up with it.


                    • #11
                      From my understanding, the heartworm prevention isn't 100%. If your dog becomes infected, it is a very dangerous routine to kill the worms and the dog needs to be very quiet. Any strong exertion of the heart can be bad--possibly causing serious/fatal problems.
                      I LOVE my Chickens!


                      • #12
                        I test every dog, every year (and I've got 5 now), even though my dogs are on preventative year round and I'm very good/obsessive about not missing a dose.

                        Just finished up the 8 weeks of crate rest for the split dose of Immiticide protocol for heartworm treatment on what was supposed to have been a foster dog (I failed, he's family now) and I don't EVER want to go through that again. The slow kill protocol (wherein one simply gives the infected dog ivermectin to kill the microfilarae and then waits for the adult worms that are already infecting the dog to die off naturally) isn't something I'm willing to do.

                        OP - you might consider the cost of testing vs. the cost of treatment. Testing is cheap and safe - treatment is expensive and can be risky. And as for having a dog who "seems healthy"? Failed Foster Dog is young and ridiculously active - prior to treatment, I never heard him so much as cough - but he tested positive. 8 weeks of crate rest is no fun (for dog or owner) and honestly, even though we did a blood smear and saw no microfilarae at the end of that time, there's a part of me that will worry right up until we get our six-months clear test in December.

                        As for the Lyme test - it's just part of the snap test. Doesn't cost any extra, and I don't treat unless the dog is symptomatic. (And given the cost of doxy at the moment, I would hope most vets would feel the same way...)


                        • #13
                          You can read the American heartworm society guidelines here, and make up your own mind about what you and your dog need:


                          the lyme disease guideline is here, but it's kind of old and some of the info in it may no longer reflect our current knowledge:



                          • #14
                            IF you give HWP religiously, I think it's fine to do the test more like every 2-3 years. However, the manufacturers of many of the HWP products will give a guarantee if you test annually and can provide proof of purchase. So sometimes, that's a good thing to do especially in a HW rich area.

                            That said...

                            Our clinic (where I work) requires the test (4DX snap) every 3 years IF the pet is on HWP year round. If off of HWP for 2+ mos at a time, we strongly recommend that they retest before starting HWP as the mass kill off can be a problem.

                            When it comes to testing pos for Lyme, Ehrlichia or A. , treatment is optional if the dog is otherwise asymptomatic. We don't push for treatment necessarily. But it's good to keep an eye on.

                            Me? I test annually. I give HWP year round and have for years and years. But I still test annually. I also do regular fecal checks which is something our clinic doesn't necessarily require either. I just feel better checking this stuff out.
                            A good horseman doesn't have to tell anyone...the horse already knows.

                            Might be a reason, never an excuse...