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Skip The Heartworm Test - SNAP 4DX Instead

Spring is the time of year many responsible dog owners get their dogs tested for heartworm.

Part of the reason for this is, back in the day, it was considered dangerous to give a dog heartworm prevention if the dog was already positive for heartworm disease.  Times have changed, and now, ivermectin, the active ingredient in Heartgard, is actually part of the standard treatment process for dogs with heartworm disease.  This also means that at Iowa Pet Adoptions, we immediately give ivermectin based heartworm prevention to dogs upon intake, even if this is prior to testing for heartworm.

One standard test for heartworm is the IDEXX SNAP Heartworm RT Test.  This test requires a small amount of blood be drawn.  The blood is inserted into the SNAP device, and in 8 minutes, indicates whether heartworm antigen is present.

At Iowa Pet Adoptions, we use the IDEXX SNAP 4DX Test instead.  As the name implies, this test screens for 4 diseases:

  1. heartworm
  2. ehrlichiosis
  3. Lyme
  4. anaplasmosis

Read detailed information from IDEXX about the four diseases screened by the SNAP 4 DX.

I have been giving this test to my dogs for several years, and one year a dog did test positive for ehrlichiosis.  My recollection is she was treated with a common antibiotic - doxycycline - and she never presented any symptoms or knew she was sick.  That is the most ideal outcome.

There is a vaccine for Lyme disease, but the vaccine provides limited protection and for a short period of time.  In our house, we prefer to test for the disease and treat it while it is still in its early stages.

Lyme, when caught early, is surprisingly easy to treat in dogs. .... The Lyme vaccine can cause an untreatable form of Lyme disease and, like all bacterial diseases, provides short term immunity. It is not recommended at any of the vet schools in the United States. The human Lyme vaccine was withdrawn from the market. For all the reasons, I think that it's best avoided.

Our veterinarian charges about $10 more for the SNAP 4 test compared to the Heartworm test.  The cost to IPA is even smaller, because we administer our own tests and the cost difference per test for a non profit is only a couple dollars.  Our goal is to adopt out the healthiest pets possible.

So, when it comes time to test your dog for heartworm, ask your veterinarian about the SNAP 4DX instead.

As a reminder, we are not veterinarians and we are not giving medical advice.  We are pet owners trying to help pets and pet owners, relaying our own ideas.  Do your research, and discuss with your veterinarian.  Let us know if you reach a different conclusion, it may help us improve the care we provide.

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