The Canine Heartworm Antigen Test Explained

Canine heartworm can cause a very serious infection that could lead to death if left untreated. Early detection is crucial, so consider getting your dog tested to ensure that he is worm-free.

Importance of Dog Heartworm Tests

Your dog should receive a preventative medicine to protect against heartworm infection; if not, annual heartworm tests are recommended. These tests verify will help you catch heartworm infestation early if it occurs. Heartworm antigen tests are not advised in dogs under seven months of age.

Heartworm Antigen Tests

There are two types of heartworm antigen tests used. The older type of test checks for microfilaria, or heartworm larvae, circulating in the bloodstream. This test was not very accurate and so the heartworm antigen test was developed.

A heartworm serology test works by identifying microscopic pieces of heartworm skin circulating in your dog's bloodstream. A positive serology tests indicates canine heartworm infection.

Benefits of Antigen Tests

Heartworm antigen tests are more accurate than microfilaria tests for several reasons. One is that microfilaria tests only detect heartworms while they are in their larval stage, so they can easily be read as falsely negative. Another is that your dog's immune system may remove microfilaria from the blood too quickly for the test to detect. Furthermore, heartworm prevention medication may kill microfilaria in your dog's bloodstream, but without clearing up the infection (your dog can still become infected with heartworm if he misses a dose of his medication).