The American Heartworm Society advises dog owners to have their furry companions tested for heartworm annually. Such tests can typically be conducted during routine preventive care visits to the veterinarian. The AHS notes that such tests are necessary even for dogs that are taking year-round heartworm prevention medications. Tests can confirm that such programs are working or indicate if they are not effective. The American Veterinary Medical Association notes that antigen tests are the most commonly performed tests. These tests detect the presence of adult female heartworms and they are typically highly accurate. If a test is positive, veterinarians may recommend further testing, including radiographs, a blood profile and an echocardiogram. Such tests can determine a number of things about the infection, including its severity. The AVMA also notes that the additional testing can help determine the best course of treatment. Cat owners should know that it’s more difficult to detect heartworm in cats than in dogs. The AHS indicates that cats are much less likely than dogs to have adult heartworms, making the disease harder to detect in felines. Veterinarians may recommend cats receive both the antigen test and an antibody test, which detects exposure to heartworm larvae. The AVMA notes that more testing may increase the likelihood of detecting the disease in cats.
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