Since last month was heartworm awareness month and as we continue to head into warmer months, let us discuss what a 4Dx test is! What things does it test for? What happens if your dog tests positive for something on the test? All good questions, lets dive in!If you have a dog, then you may have noticed that when you come with him/her for their annual exam, we take them into the treatment room to get some blood. This blood is used to run a test called a 4Dx. This is a snap test used in veterinary medicine to provide a screening process for six diseases. What is neat about this test, is that it can run in 8 minutes—and provides fast, reliable results. It tests for heartworm disease which can be spread via mosquitos and tick-borne pathognes; Lyme, Anaplasma platys, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, Ehrlichia ewingi and Ehrlichia canis.
Heartworm disease can be spread by mosquitoes and we do see it up here in the Northeast. Dogs on heartworm medication can still get infected if they are not on the correct dose or not getting it every month all year round. Which is why testing yearly for heartworm is so very important. Heartworm is treatable and preventable, but it is a very serious disease that can be fatal. We want to make sure we are checking yearly that your dog is negative for this disease!
All the tick borne diseases listed above can have similar symptoms. We can see lethargy, fever, loss of appetite, lameness and joint inflammation but sometimes we are not seeing any symptoms at all. Which is why the test is very important because these diseases can cause issues internally as well. Ehrlichia and Anaplasma can affect the white blood cells and platelets–so we may want to do additional testing like a CBC (blood test) to monitor those levels. Lyme can seriously impact the kidneys which can cause damage to that organ. The most common and effective treatment for this tick borne diseases is to treat with an oral antibiotic-doxycycline.
The 4Dx test should be done annually because this allows us to catch any positive results and start treatment right away. These vector borne diseases can be dangerous if left untreated!
Yearly, proactive testing is very important even if there is not outward signs of disease. This leads to early detection and thus early treatment and this is the overall goal of preventive care!