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10 Things That Make Fear Free Veterinary Visits Different

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What do we mean when we say that a veterinary visit is Fear Free?

 

A veterinary team member who is Fear Free Certified® wants your pet to be happy when he comes  through the door of the clinic. Fear Free doesn’t mean that your pet will never experience anything uncomfortable at the veterinarian—he may be injured or ill, after all—but it does mean that we make every effort to reduce any fear, anxiety, and stress related to examinations and procedures. Here are 10 ways we help your pet stay comfortable and relaxed from arrival to departure.

The waiting game is over. You can expect to have a species-specific waiting area (no dogs invading your cat’s private space), be given the option of waiting in your car with your pet until you are texted or called to come in, or be taken right into the exam room.

No more sitting on slick, cold surfaces. Your pet will have a nonslip surface to stand on, such as a yoga mat or a warm, pheromone-infused towel.

Relaxation rules. Pheromone and aromatherapy diffusers emit calming substances into the air, and pet-friendly music works its calming effect on the central nervous system. (You might benefit, too.)

Eye contact is for you, not your pet. Fear Free Certified® veterinary team members will initially avoid eye contact with your pet and focus on you instead. This helps your pet feel less stressed because he’s not the center of attention and gives him time to check out his environment and become accustomed to the team member’s presence.

Got treats? Bring your dog or cat in hungry because Fear Free Certified® veterinary team members will be handing out many small but delicious treats throughout the visit to welcome your pet, distract him from procedures, and reward him for cooperation.

Color therapy. Bright white can be startling to animals. Pastels are more soothing, so veterinary professionals wear lab coats and scrubs in those shades. Playing doctor. In addition to treats, our veterinary team members utilize a variety of distraction techniques, such as toys, to help your pet be comfortable.

“The back” is out. Whenever possible, our Fear Free Certified® veterinary team members will perform exams and procedures right there in the exam room so your pet will be reassured by your presence and you can assist as needed, and you’ll have the assurance that he will be treated kindly and respectfully.

A little extra help? If needed, we will prescribe anti-anxiety or other calming medications or supplements to help make the car ride and the visit more enjoyable and less  frightening for your pet.

Emotional rescue. Our veterinary team members will note your pet’s emotional response to the visit and what treats and techniques worked best to reduce any fear, anxiety, and stress that may have been expressed. This will help to make future visits even better.

Covid Update 12/11/2020

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Effective 12/11/2020, clients will no longer be able to enter the building. In July, we opened up with Phase I which allowed 1 pet parent in the exam room for doctor appointments. With case numbers reaching an all time high, we have made the difficult decision to scale back and operate fully curbside once again. We want our clients to safe as well as our staff so that we may continue to care for your pets during this pandemic.

If you have an appointment for your pet and have been experiencing any covid-like symptoms, have had direct contact with a positive Covid-19 person, or have recently traveled outside of New England, please let us know. We may ask that you make arrangements to have someone else bring your pet in for the appointment, or reschedule to a later date.

Upon arrival for your appointment, please note the number parking spot you’re in and call the office at 603-332-3358 to let the receptionist know you’ve arrived for your appointment. A nurse will call your cell phone to go over intake questions. You will then be asked to meet the nurse at the door, where we will take your pet inside for an exam. You will be asked to wait in your car. The doctor will call you to go over exam findings. At the end of the appointment, the nurse will take payment over the phone as well.

We understand how difficult it can be to not be with your pet for an appointment, please let us know if your pet is particularly anxious or fearful without you, and we can discuss options to keep everyone safe and comfortable.

We know that phone lines are often busy, wait times may be more than usual, and their may be limited appointment availability as we deal with a decrease in staff. Our goal is remain open to care for your pets, so we hope that you understand that cooperation and compliance is crucial.

 

Thank you

Leptospirosis – Is your dog at risk?

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Leptospirosis is a disease that affects dogs, as well as many other kinds of animals. The organism that causes leptospirosis is a spirochete bacteria and is found throughout the world. There are a very large number of Leptospira; about 230 of them have been identified.

In the United States, Leptospirosis is in the environment because it is carried in rats, wildlife, as well as domestic livestock. More cases are seen in late summer and fall and often after heavy rainfalls. Leptospira is known to exist in standing water, dampness, and mud. Winter conditions tend to lower the risk because Leptospira do not tolerate freezing temperatures.

Pets can become infected through contact with urine of infected animals such as raccoons, skunks, rats, feral cats, dogs, and other animals. Often, dogs contract the disease by swimming in stagnant water or drinking contaminated water in puddles.

Should Dog Owners Be Concerned About Leptospirosis?

Not all dogs that are exposed to Leptospirosis become visibly ill. In a 2007 study, 25 percent of unvaccinated healthy dogs had antibodies to Leptospirosis. This indicated to researchers that they had been previously exposed to Leptospirosis without their owners noticing a problem.

When Leptospirosis does cause disease in dogs, it tends to be most severe in unvaccinated dogs that are younger than 6 months of age. It takes about 4-12 days after exposure for a dog to start to feel ill.

Signs of illness vary, but usually include lethargy, poor appetite, fever, vomiting, increased thirst or urine production. Jaundice may also be seen. Blood tests will show changes in kidney values or liver and kidney values.

Diagnosis is made through blood and urine tests that look specifically for Leptospirosis. Antibiotics are typically used to treat Leptospirosis; not only can they treat the active infection, but also may prevent dogs from becoming carriers of the organism.

How Can Dog Owners Prevent Leptospirosis?

Prevention is best accomplished by stopping your dog’s access to contaminated water. Also, try to sanitize your dog’s environment by eliminating food and garbage to reduce the attraction of rats, raccoons, or feral cats.

Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease. In other words, it is contagious to humans. The most likely way humans contract Leptospirosis is via exposure to dog or rat urine. However, any bodily fluid, including vomit and saliva, can transmit the disease. If your dog is infected with Leptospirosis, it is very important to observe proper hygiene even after he has recovered (wearing protective gloves when cleaning up after your dog, preventing face licking, etc.)

Vaccination for leptospirosis is an option to consider if your dog is at high risk of contracting the disease. The American Animal Hospital Association considers Leptospirosis a “non-core” vaccine for dogs. That is, they do not recommend it unless there is a good chance your dog will be exposed to Leptospirosis. The efficacy of the vaccine is variable: short lasting or limited. There have been reports of reactions to the vaccine that vary from minor to severe.

Vaccination does not always prevent infection, but it tends to make the disease much milder if infection occurs. There is the potential for vaccinated dogs that do become infected to become long term carriers of Leptospirosis. Some long-term carriers have more frequent incidence of reproductive failure and stillbirths.

As with all vaccinations, you should discuss the vaccine for Leptospirosis with your veterinarian. This decision will be based on you and your dog’s life style, if your community is experiencing cases of Leptospirosis, and the other pros and cons your veterinarian has experienced with the vaccine.

Reopening – Phase I

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Starting Monday July 20th, 2020, Animal Health Center will allow 1 person inside the exam room for a pet’s appointment. Curbside is still available if you do not wish to be present in the exam room with the veterinarian and nurse. We ask that you call from the parking lot to let us know you’ve arrived. The nurse will bring you right into 1 of our 2 exam rooms that have a side entrance. Some procedures may still need to be done in our treatment area, which may require us to bring your pet out of the exam room for a portion of the exam.

We will be emailing a few questions prior to your appointment, or you will be asked over the phone at your arrival:

1. Have you experienced any of the following symptoms in the last 48 hours:

Fever or chills
Cough
Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
Fatigue
Muscle or body aches
Headache
New loss of taste or smell
Sore throat
Congestion or runny nose
Nausea or vomiting
Diarrhea
2.  Have you been in contact with a known positive Covid-19 person in the last 14 days?
3. Have you traveled outside of New Hampshire, Maine, or Vermont in the last 14 days?
If you do not have any symptoms and can answer “no” to the last 2 questions, you will be permitted to enter the exam room with a mask. If you do not have a mask, one can be provided, but we encourage you to bring your own. Masks must be worn in a manner that covers your mouth and nose at all times.
As a lot of our nurses here are parents, we understand that it may not be possible to bring your pet to an appointment alone. We ask that you do not leave your car running unattended with young children or other pets inside. We would be happy to continue to provide curbside service for you in these situations.
Since we will be operating with 2 exam rooms (instead of using all 4 rooms like we did before Covid-19), it may still be necessary to do curbside service for your pet’s exam if the 2 exam rooms are in use for a prolonged period of time. We may also choose to take your pet’s medical history over the phone while you wait in the car before entering the exam room, while the exam rooms are being disinfected. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate through this reopening process.
Clients will exit through the same entrance of the exam room. We will be taking extra measures to thoroughly clean the exam room after each client.
Our lobby will still remain closed to the public at this time. We will continue curbside service for nurse appointments, surgical and medical check ins and pick ups, as well as food and medication pick ups.
For more updates:

Covid-19 Update 3/26/2020

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Thursday March 26th, 2020

Gov. Sununu announced a stay-at-home order to take effect tomorrow, Friday March 26th, 2020 at 11:59pm. We want to let you know, at this point, we are still considered essential and willl be open. We are making every effort possible to follow CDC guidelines, minimize exposure, and flatten the curve.

 

 

 

Effective Tuesday March 17th, 2020 at 1:00pm

With the rising threat of COVID-19, we have had to make some difficult decisions necessary to protect the health of our employees and to protect you as our client while we continue to deliver care to pets in our community. The following new policies are effective immediately.

Update on Hospital Operations:
If you have a compromised immune system or increased risk of coronavirus illness, please reschedule any routine care appointments you have scheduled. During this time we will waive our cancellation fees for same day cancellations. Please still call or email our office if you cannot make it or need to reschedule.

We will remain available for care as always.

ALL pets and owners will wait in their cars, so there is no need to sit in the waiting room. Upon arrival, if you have a cell phone, remain in your vehicle – call our office number to check in.

In the absence of a cell phone, please approach the window nearest the desk. Veterinary staff will come to your car to escort your pet to an exam room and we will ask you all questions over the phone or prior to going inside. Once your pet has been evaluated, you will receive a phone call from the doctor.

If you do not have access to a cell phone or do not have unlimited phone call ability, we will provide a temporary phone for you to use from your car that is to be returned to us upon check out.

If you’re not feeling well and have concerns about your pet, or if you are exhibiting respiratory signs, have a fever, or have traveled to any part of the world experiencing high incidence of outbreaks (China, Italy, South Korea, or Iran) then:Call us to speak to staff/doctor who will determine if your pet needs to be seen.

Curbside Pick-up – Call in product/medication request and pay over the phone. Give us a call when you arrive and we’ll bring the items out to your car. Please give us 24 hours notice prior to coming to pick up any prescriptions or preventatives.

You can easily order products and prescriptions and have it conveniently mailed directly to your house from our online pharmacy.

Another option is to request a refill from us by email ([email protected]) or our FREE mobile app ‘AHC Rochester’ which is available for Apple users here or on Google Play store here

EXISTING SCHEDULED APPOINTMENTS
Scheduled appointments will proceed as planned with the above directives as far as checking in remotely and waiting in the car. To cancel your appointment, please call 603-332-3358. Pet owners can expect to receive a phone call if their appointment needs to be rescheduled.

NEW POLICIES FOR PATIENTS
Effective immediately, no personal items can be left with the pet while in office, including blankets, toys, collars, leashes, etc. Please clean your carrier, leash, and collar as carefully as possible before arrival with an alcohol -based solution.

For the latest Information on COVID-19 visit the CDC, American Veterinary Medical Association, and our local Department of Health and Human Services

603-332-3358

Coronavirus

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Animal Health Center recognizes the widespread outbreak covid-19 virus. Our mantra is “Be Prepared, but not Panicked”. As your trusted family vet, we want you to know we are working hard to minimize disruptions. We are putting preparations in place now, but taking it each day at a time as new information develops.

Animal Health Center recommends that you stay up to date with recommendations of the CDC, World Health Organization, and local health agencies and check for changes and updates often.

Some precautions we are taking include:

Employees are being asked to wash their hands in between patients as usual, and also hourly for added protection

We have stocked up on cleaning supplies and on top of our routine environmental cleaning and disinfection, we have posted a daily schedule that includes wiping down all door handles, credit card machines, signature pads, telephones, keyboards and mouse, and the most common surfaces we touch an extra 3 times a day.

Employees have been asked to stay home if they have a fever, cough, or any signs of upper respiratory issues.

We have added multiple bottles of hand sanitizer through out the hospital, including at the front door, reception desk, and each exam room. We kindly ask that you take a moment to sanitize your hands when you enter the building.

We ask that if you are experiencing any symptoms such as fever, cough, or shortness of breath please stay home. We will not penalize you for any canceled appointments due to sickness at this time. We will also be asking any clients that seem to be exhibiting symptoms while in the office to wait in their car or reschedule to a later date. Please understand this is for everyone’s safety.

To date, there is no evidence that companion animals or pets can spread COVID-19 (per CDC guidance). For the latest information about coronavirus and pets, we encourage you to visit the links below:

We have been working with the state vet at the NH State Board of Veterinary Medicine to stay informed of any other precautions we should be taking, if any, regarding pets. We have also been exploring the possibility of telemedicine as a means of avoiding contact with potentially infected people. We are preparing that some of our employees made need time off either for quarantin,e or in the event that schools and daycares close. If this happens and Animal Health Center has to operate on a small crew of employees, we will not be able to accept new patients and may need to keep our schedule open for pets that need immediate attention. We don’t know that it will come to this, and we surely hope that it doesn’t but the safety of our clients and staff are important and we will follow recommendations set forth by the CDC, W.H.O., and local health agencies.

Please follow us on Facebook for any information regarding these updates. You can also reach out to any time with any specific questions by calling us at 603-332-3358.

Thank you for your understanding!

 

Give Your Pet The Gift Of Wellness This Season

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A healthy pet starts with an AHC Wellness Plan!

 

Preventative pet care in the form of exams, vaccines, dental care and specialty diets helps expand your pets’ quality of life. Advances in medicine, nutrition and diagnostics have led to longer life spans for pets just as they have for their owners. Making sure your pet receives the exams and vaccinations they need on a scheduled basis is key to avoiding costly health problems later in life.

That’s what makes our Wellness Plans so great. A simple monthly payment covers your pet’s necessary exams, vaccinations, and even dental cleanings if you wish. The plans are tailored to the health needs of each individual pet. We invite you to take advantage of these services and encourage you to consider one of our convenient, affordable Wellness Plans.

  • Health Exams and Pet Vaccinations
  • Preventative Lab Work
  • Flea, Tick, and Heartworm Prevention
  • Spaying and Neutering


One dose once a year: is your dog’s heart protected?

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine has announced the approval of ProHeart 12 (moxidectin) extended-release injectable suspension for dogs 12 months of age and older for the prevention of heartworm disease caused by Dirofilaria immitis for 12 months. ProHeart 12 is also approved for the treatment of existing larval and adult hookworm infections.

 

 

Heartworm disease is a serious disease that results in severe lung disease, heart failure, other organ damage, and death in pets, mainly dogs, cats, and ferrets. It is caused by a parasitic roundworm called Dirofilaria immitis. The worms are spread through the bite of a mosquito.  While living inside a dog, the worms mature into adults, mate, and produce offspring.  The worms are called “heartworms” because the adults live in the heart, lungs, and associated blood vessels of an infected animal.

 

 

In the early stages of the disease, many dogs show few symptoms or no symptoms at all. The longer the infection persists, the more likely symptoms will develop. Active dogs, dogs heavily infected with heartworms, or those with other health problems often show pronounced clinical signs.

Signs of heartworm disease may include a mild persistent cough, reluctance to exercise, fatigue after moderate activity, decreased appetite, and weight loss. As heartworm disease progresses, pets may develop heart failure and the appearance of a swollen belly due to excess fluid in the abdomen. Dogs with large numbers of heartworms can develop a sudden blockages of blood flow within the heart leading to a life-threatening form of cardiovascular collapse. This is called caval syndrome, and is marked by a sudden onset of labored breathing, pale gums, and dark bloody or coffee-colored urine. Without prompt surgical removal of the heartworm blockage, few dogs survive.

Many factors must be considered when assessing your pet’s risk, even if heartworms do not seem to be a problem in your local area. Your community may have a greater incidence of heartworm disease than you realize—or you may unknowingly travel with your pet to an area where heartworms are more common. Heartworm disease is also spreading to new regions of the country each year. Stray and neglected dogs and certain wildlife such as coyotes, wolves, and foxes can be carriers of heartworms. Mosquitoes blown great distances by the wind and the relocation of infected pets to previously uninfected areas also contribute to the spread of heartworm disease (this happened following Hurricane Katrina when 250,000 pets, many of them infected with heartworms, were “adopted” and shipped throughout the country).

The fact is that heartworm disease has been diagnosed in all 50 states, and risk factors are impossible to predict. Multiple variables, from climate variations to the presence of wildlife carriers, cause rates of infections to vary dramatically from year to year—even within communities. And because infected mosquitoes can come inside, both outdoor and indoor pets are at risk.

For that reason, the American Heartworm Society recommends that you “think 12:” (1) get your pet tested every 12 months for heartworm and (2) give your pet heartworm preventive year-round (12 months).

 

 

ProHeart 12 injections will be available by appointment only beginning in September. Your pet must be up-to-date with their annual wellness exam with one of our veterinarians and have a negative heartworm test within the last 12 months. Call 603-332-3358, visit our make an appointment page here, or download our free mobile app “AHC Rochester” to request an appointment!

 

                          

Microchips in Pets: Everything You Need to Know

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Microchips Help Pet Owners Get Reunited with Their Pets

Microchips are small devices implanted underneath a pet’s skin to provide unique and reliable identification.

Why should I microchip my pet?

Microchips are the most dependable form of identification for your pet. If lost, your pet’s collar and tags could be removed or damaged, significantly reducing your chances of being reunited. A microchip never gets lost Microchipand can be identified at almost any shelter or veterinary office.  Simple and inexpensive, microchips reunite thousands of pet families every year.

What is the implant process like?

The implant process is simple and causes no more pain or discomfort than a routine vaccine. A long needle is used to place the microchip, which is no larger than a grain of rice, underneath your pet’s skin.

In cats and dogs, the microchip is typically implanted between the shoulder blades. The microchip implant process is not a surgery and requires no anesthesia. In fact, the process is so simple that it can typically be done during your regular veterinary exam.

How does it work?

Pet microchips are not tracking devices. They are radio-frequency identification (RFID) implants that provide permanent ID for your pet.

Because they use RFID technology, microchips do not require a power source like a GPS. When a microchip scanner is passed over the pet, the microchip gets enough power from the scanner to transmit the microchip’s ID number. Since there’s no battery and no moving parts, there’s nothing to keep charged, wear out, or replace. The microchip will last your pet’s lifetime.

Where do I go to get my pet microchipped?

A microchip can be implanted at most primary veterinary offices and animal shelters. Most pet rescue shelters microchip their cats and dogs before they are placed for adoption. If you are unsure whether your pet already has a microchip, bring your pet to a veterinarian or animal shelter to be scanned.

What is the maintenance required for a microchip?

Microchip maintenance is extremely important, but often neglected. Each microchip is registered to a company that maintains your contact information and provides it to the veterinarian. Registration is generally low in cost, and it is typically required once a year unless a lifetime plan is purchased.

Microchip registration is essential to ensure that veterinarians and animal shelters can receive the contact information they need to reunite you with your pet. The microchip device is designed to last a lifetime and never deteriorate in your pet’s body.

What information is stored in a microchip?

A microchip only stores an identification number. If your pet is found, the veterinarian would retrieve the identification number via scan, then use that number to determine which company maintains your microchip in a private online database.

The veterinarian will then contact the microchip company for your contact information and reach out to you immediately. Because the chip does not contain your contact information and address directly, privacy concerns with microchips are basically nonexistent.

Can a microchip be removed? Damaged?

Microchips are tiny, internal and durable, making them nearly impossible to damage or remove. They are designed to last and function during any circumstances.  In very rare cases, severe trauma to the pet can damage the pet’s microchip or your pet’s body may reject the microchip after implanted.

Do microchips really increase the chances of pets returning home after they are lost?

Think it’s a long shot? Think again! Over 58% of microchipped dogs who enter shelters are reunited with their families. Nearly 38% of microchipped cats in the same situation were reunified, too! Those percentages are hundreds (and in the case of cats, thousands) of times greater than for animals without chips.

 

Heartworm Disease is Heartbreaking

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Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease in pets in the United States and many other parts of the world. It is caused by foot-long worms (heartworms) that live in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels of affected pets, causing severe lung disease, heart failure and damage to other organs in the body.

 

The mosquito plays an essential role in the heartworm life cycle. Adult female heartworms living in an infected dog, fox, coyote, or wolf produce microscopic baby worms called microfilaria that circulate in the bloodstream. When a mosquito bites and takes a blood meal from an infected animal, it picks up these baby worms, which develop and mature into “infective stage” larvae over a period of 10 to 14 days. Then, when the infected mosquito bites another dog, cat, or susceptible wild animal, the infective larvae are deposited onto the surface of the animal’s skin and enter the new host through the mosquito’s bite wound. Once inside a new host, it takes approximately 6 months for the larvae to mature into adult heartworms. Once mature, heartworms can live for 5 to 7 years in dogs and up to 2 or 3 years in cats. Because of the longevity of these worms, each mosquito season can lead to an increasing number of worms in an infected pet.

 

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF HEARTWORM DISEASE IN DOGS?

In the early stages of the disease, many dogs show few symptoms or no symptoms at all. The longer the infection persists, the more likely symptoms will develop. Active dogs, dogs heavily infected with heartworms, or those with other health problems often show pronounced clinical signs.

Signs of heartworm disease may include a mild persistent cough, reluctance to exercise, fatigue after moderate activity, decreased appetite, and weight loss. As heartworm disease progresses, pets may develop heart failure and the appearance of a swollen belly due to excess fluid in the abdomen. Dogs with large numbers of heartworms can develop a sudden blockages of blood flow within the heart leading to a life-threatening form of cardiovascular collapse. This is called caval syndrome, and is marked by a sudden onset of labored breathing, pale gums, and dark bloody or coffee-colored urine. Without prompt surgical removal of the heartworm blockage, few dogs survive.

 

HOW SIGNIFICANT IS MY PET’S RISK?

Many factors must be considered, even if heartworms do not seem to be a problem in your local area. Your community may have a greater incidence of heartworm disease than you realize—or you may unknowingly travel with your pet to an area where heartworms are more common. Heartworm disease is also spreading to new regions of the country each year. Stray and neglected dogs and certain wildlife such as coyotes, wolves, and foxes can be carriers of heartworms. Mosquitoes blown great distances by the wind and the relocation of infected pets to previously uninfected areas also contribute to the spread of heartworm disease (this happened following Hurricane Katrina when 250,000 pets, many of them infected with heartworms, were “adopted” and shipped throughout the country).

The fact is that heartworm disease has been diagnosed in all 50 states, and risk factors are impossible to predict. Multiple variables, from climate variations to the presence of wildlife carriers, cause rates of infections to vary dramatically from year to year—even within communities. And because infected mosquitoes can come inside, both outdoor and indoor pets are at risk.

For that reason, the American Heartworm Society recommends that you “think 12:” (1) get your pet tested every 12 months for heartworm and (2) give your pet heartworm preventive 12 months a year.

 

WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HEARTWORM TESTING?

Heartworm disease is a serious, progressive disease. The earlier it is detected, the better the chances the pet will recover. There are few, if any, early signs of disease when a dog or cat is infected with heartworms, so detecting their presence with a heartworm test administered by a veterinarian is important. The test requires just a small blood sample from your pet, and it works by detecting the presence of heartworm proteins. Some veterinarians process heartworm tests right in their hospitals while others send the samples to a diagnostic laboratory. In either case, results are obtained quickly. If your pet tests positive, further tests may be ordered.

WHEN SHOULD MY DOG BE TESTED?

All dogs should be tested annually for heartworm infection, and this can usually be done during a routine visit for preventive care. Following are guidelines on testing and timing: Puppies under 7 months of age can be started on heartworm prevention without a heartworm test (it takes at least 6 months for a dog to test positive after it has been infected), but should be tested 6 months after your initial visit, tested again 6 months later and yearly after that to ensure they are heartworm-free. Adult dogs over 7 months of age and previously not on a preventive need to be tested prior to starting heartworm prevention.  They, too, need to be tested 6 months and 12 months later and annually after that. If there has been a lapse in prevention (one or more late or missed doses), dogs should be tested immediately, then tested again six months later and annually after that.

WHAT IF MY DOG TESTS POSITIVE FOR HEARTWORM DISEASE?

Annual testing is necessary, even when dogs are on heartworm prevention year-round, to ensure that the prevention program is working. Heartworm medications are highly effective, but dogs can still become infected. If you miss just one dose of a monthly medication—or give it late—it can leave your dog unprotected. Even if you give the medication as recommended, your dog may spit out or vomit a heartworm pill—or rub off a topical medication. Heartworm preventives are highly effective, but not 100 percent effective. If you don’t get your dog test, you won’t know your dog needs treatment.

HOW CAN I PROTECT MY DOG FROM HEARTWORM DISEASE?

Whether the preventive you choose is given as a pill, a spot-on topical medication or as an injection, all approved heartworm medications work by eliminating the immature (larval) stages of the heartworm parasite. This includes the infective heartworm larvae deposited by the mosquito as well as the following larval stage that develops inside the animal. Unfortunately, in as little as 51 days, immature heartworm larvae can molt into an adult stage, which cannot be effectively eliminated by preventives. Because heartworms must be eliminated before they reach this adult stage, it is extremely important that heartworm preventives be administered strictly on schedule (monthly for oral and topical products and every 6 months for the injectable). Administering prevention late can allow immature larvae to molt into the adult stage, which is poorly prevented.