Heartworm and Tick-Transmitted Disease Testing

Preventative medication combined with annual testing for early detection is your dog’s best defense.

In Toronto, the threat of heartworms and tick-borne diseases such as Lyme Disease is on the rise. Your dog can get heartworms from a single mosquito bite, and ticks lurk anywhere with tall grasses, shrubs or overhanging vegetation. Heartworms cause severe lung and heart conditions, organ damage, and even death, while tick-borne diseases can cause chronic pain, severe arthritis, kidney damage, and neurological disorders. Learn more about how to protect your dog from these parasites and diseases here.

My dog takes parasite prevention medication – do they still need testing?

Yes! In addition to taking preventative medication, annual testing for heartworms and tick-transmitted diseases is very important for your dog. (There is no equivalent reliable test for cats.) Despite their owners' best intentions, many dogs don’t get their full dose of medication, on time, every single month of the year – you might forget to give a dose on time (we’re all human!) or your dog might drop their chew or vomit within a few hours of taking it, without being seen. By the time clinical signs of heartworm and some tick-borne diseases are visible, their damage can be permanent, and even with intensive treatment they can be fatal. The earlier these diseases are diagnosed, the better the chances for recovery.

How do you test for heartworms and tick-borne diseases?

We use a blood test called Accuplex to make sure your dog was not infected with heartworms, Lyme Disease, Ehrlichia or Anaplasma over the past year. Heartworm testing is done the same way as other routine bloodwork. Our veterinary technicians will use a syringe to take a small amount of blood from your pet's vein. We then prepare the blood sample and send it to a specialized laboratory that tests it for heartworm proteins and antibodies to the bacteria that cause Lyme Disease, ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis. We will share the results with you when the test is complete, and if your dog tests positive our veterinarians will work with you to create a treatment plan.

When should my dog get tested for heartworms and tick-transmitted diseases?

We recommend testing your dog for heartworms and tick-transmitted diseases once a year so that if they have a new infection they can be treated as soon as possible, increasing their chances of recovery. 

Your dog’s Accuplex testing can be done at any time of the year, not just in the spring – as long as you do it at least once a year. For convenience and to save money, we recommend doing it at their annual exam, combined with wellness monitoring lab tests. These are blood and urine tests that look at your dog’s red and white blood cells and their organ function to help identify and treat emerging health issues early, before they show symptoms and become more difficult and expensive to treat.  

Our laboratory gives a large discount on combined Accuplex and Wellness panels, so having these tests done together is much cheaper than doing them separately. We can also add an Accuplex test to any bloodwork panel, so if your dog is sick and needs diagnostic bloodwork, or they are due for bloodwork to monitor a medical condition or medication, you can get their testing done at the same time.

Does my cat need heartworm and tick-borne disease testing? 

No, there is no reliable equivalent to the Accuplex test for cats. The tick-transmitted diseases in the Accuplex panel primarily affect dogs, and since heartworm infections affect cats differently, the test can't accurately detect feline heartworms. There is also no effective treatment for heartworm in cats, so prevention is the only option.

How can I prevent my pet from getting heartworms and tick-transmitted diseases?

All-in-one monthly medications that prevent fleas, ticks and heartworms and kill most intestinal worms are available for both dogs and cats. For dogs these medications come as a tasty hypoallergenic treat, and for cats they are a liquid that is applied to the back of their neck. These medications are pesticide-free (unlike many dangerous over-the-counter flea and tick products) and are widely used with few side effects. Request your pet’s parasite protection medication now using our online Parasite Prevention Request Form.

Practice information

Roncy Village Veterinary Clinic

  • Mon
    8:00am – 7:00pm
  • Tue
    8:00am – 7:00pm
  • Wed
    8:00am – 1:00pm & 3:00pm – 7:00pm
  • Thu
    8:00am – 7:00pm
  • Fri
    8:00am – 7:00pm
  • Sat
    8:00am – 2:00pm
  • Sun
    Closed (Sundays & Holidays)

After-Hours Emergencies

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215 Roncesvalles Avenue Toronto, Ontario M6R 2L6
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