It is now spring and the beginning of parasite season – which used to be called Heartworm season. As weather changes and populations of ticks move up more northern each year, it would be better called Parasite Season.

It is the time of the year that clinics suggest you get a 4Dx test on your dog, but what exactly is a 4Dx. A 4Dx is a blood test that is done in usually in the spring and checks for a diagnosis of 4 things. When completed it lets us know if your dog is confident for one of 4 parasites. What we test for are Heartworm and the four most common tick-borne diseases (Ehrlichia cranes, Ehrlichia ewingii, Borrelia burgdorferi, Anaplasma phagocytophilum and Anaplasma platys).

Ticks are active any time that the weather is above 4 degrees C so that they may be engaged in any month in our area. We are not in a high tick area, but it is growing each year very much. Ticks can carry Lyme disease as well as many other diseases of concern. We do blood testing to see if your dog has any of these parasites. So, we can try to catch them soon enough that they may be treated and to ensure that your dog is negative before starting any preventatives as to avoid issues with them being in the bloodstream at the time, as this could cause life-threatening health concerns

Heartworm is a disease that is transmitted from dog to dog by mosquitos once the weather is above 14-degrees C. We have areas where there are large populations of mosquitos that carry nearby. Testing should be done at least every other year as long as your dog has been given its prevention the season before with all the prescribed pills. Heartworm prevention is usually provided over the “summer” season, (longer is reasonable, especially if your dog is a “snowbird”) but we can give tick prevention all year round (as ticks are out all season, and this medication comes with the bonus of being a flea treatment/prevention). With this information definitely, consider a 4Dx this parasite season.

Written by Lisa Clifford