Heartworm Testing for Pets

Heartworm disease is one of the many reasons you should never miss your pet’s annual veterinary exam. This infection is one of the more fatal ones that, even if treated, can leave long lasting damage to your pet’s organs and quality of life. Heartworms are foot-long parasites that enter your cat or dog’s blood stream. While in your pet, they reproduce and mature until serious symptoms start to develop. More severe cases are common in dogs, who can carry up to 60 worms in their heart leading to blockage and irregular blood flow. Cats are not common carriers and usually host less than 5. However, they can and will be impeded by a respiratory illness if left untreated. To find out if your pet has heartworms and how to prevent them, book an appointment with us at 403.982.8387.

How can my pet contract heartworms?

The main culprit is the mosquito. When heartworm babies (microfilaria) live in wild animals, like coyotes and foxes, a mosquito who has sucked their blood can transmit some of those baby worms to your dog or cat. When bitten, those babies enter your pet’s blood stream and can mature and reproduce.

How do you treat heartworms in pets?

Cats and dogs have different care needs when it comes to heartworm.

To Prevent:

Dogs receive medicine that protects them from heartworms or removes the parasites gradually. Cats on the other hand can only be given medicine that is preventative. Preventative medication comes in many forms for both pets, including topical creams, injections and pills. Our veterinarians can help you choose a method that works best for you and your pet.

To Treat:

If your dog is already infected, cleaning heartworms from their system could require surgery or multiple injectable treatments. In some cases, cats may be suitable for a removal procedure if the parasites are visible through ultrasound.

How frequently should my pet be tested for heartworm?

Your pets should be tested annually and appointments should not be missed, especially for cats since it is, at the moment, quite difficult to treat them. Dogs and cats are tested through bloodwork. We may use ultrasounds on cats for extra reassurance.

Last updated: April 5, 2021

Dear Clients,

With recent changes to restrictions on businesses, we are pleased to advise that effective May 25, 2020 the restrictions on veterinary practices have been lifted. Based on these changes, below are some important updates to our operating policies.

1. WE CAN NOW SEE ALL CASES BY APPOINTMENT ONLY This includes vaccines, wellness exams, blood work, spays and neuters, dental services, and more!


  • Continue our "closed waiting room" policy to protect our clients and staff. When you arrive, please remain outside the hospital and use your cell phone to call us. We will take a history of your pet's health and discuss any concerns. A staff member will then meet you outside to bring your pet into the hospital for an examination. The Veterinarian will call you to discuss the recommended treatment plan. After your appointment, a staff member will return your pet to you outside, and take care of any needed medications and payment.
  • Continue the use of credit cards as the preferred payment method.
  • Continue with curbside pickup of food and medication (unless you have used our online store and are having your order delivered directly to your home). To place an order through our online store, visit our website and click on "Online Store".
  • 3. OPERATING HOURS We are OPEN with the following hours:
    Monday to Friday: 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
    Saturday: 9:00 am - 2:00 pm
    Sunday: Closed

    5. NEW PET OWNERS Have you welcomed a new furry family member to your home? We’d love to meet them! Visit our Must Know New Pet Owner Information page for useful resources and helpful recommendations for new pet owners.

    Thank you for your patience and understanding and we look forward to seeing you and your furry family members again!

    - The team at Elizabeth Street Pet Hospital