SNAP 4DX Test – Test Dogs Annually
Testing dogs for the presence of an adult heartworm infection is fast and effective with an in-house test called the SNAP 4DX test. Even better, the test is actually screening for a total of six vector-borne diseases: Heartworm, Lyme disease, Ehrlichia canis, Ehrlichia ewingii, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, and Anaplasma platys.
So why should we screen for these diseases?
Heartworm disease: April is National Heartworm Awareness Month, so now is a perfect time to talk about heartworm testing. This is a disease where the earlier we catch it, the better it is for your pet. A recently infected patient may not have any clinical symptoms yet, so annual screening can help catch it earlier. Additionally, more recent infections will likely have fewer internal changes related to the worms, which can mean the dog can better tolerate the treatment to kill the adult worms. Perhaps you are wondering why you should have your dog tested if he or she receives year-round heartworm prevention? We have a list of reasons addressing that question here.
Lyme Disease: April is also National Prevention of Lyme Disease in Dogs Month. Lyme disease is transmitted by ticks, and Lyme disease is in Guilford County. The 4DX test screens for Lyme disease infection. A positive result indicates the dog has been infected with the bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, that causes Lyme Disease. The positive test alerts us that we should pursue additional testing to understand whether the dog has clinical and/or laboratory findings consistent with Lyme disease.
Ehrlichiosis: Ehrlichia is a genus of rickettsial bacteria, and there are a variety of different Ehrlichia species. The 4DX test screens for canine exposure to two of these species: Ehrlichia canis, and Ehrlichia ewingii, which are known to cause illness (Ehrlichiosis) in dogs. A positive test result means the dog has been exposed to the bacteria, and the dog may or may not be infected. A positive result is an indicator that we need to be looking for evidence of clinical and/or laboratory abnormalities in the patient to decide whether treatment is warranted.
Anaplasmosis: Anaplasma is another genus of rickettsial bacteria. Two species are known to cause disease in dogs: Anaplasma phagocytophilum, and Anaplasma platys. The 4DX test screens for exposure to both of these species. A positive result means the dog has been exposed to the bacteria, and the dog may or may not be infected. A positive result is an indicator that we need to be looking for evidence of clinical and/or laboratory abnormalities in the patient to decide whether treatment is warranted.
Lawndale Veterinary Hospital’s SNAP 4DX Test Results:
If you are interested in learning how many dogs in general have tested positive for Heartworm, Lyme, Ehrlichia, or Anaplasma since 2012, visit the Companion Animal Parasite Council’s webpage showing Parasite Prevalence Maps. You can see reports from any state or county, including Guilford County. As an example, in 2016, 1 out of every 28 dogs in Guilford County tested positive for Lyme Disease.
For Lawndale Veterinary Hospital, between January 1, 2017 and April 3, 2017, we have had positive results on all of the vector-borne disease tests. When you look at these numbers, keep in mind that these are positive results when we are not even in heavy tick season.
Out of 607 tests performed:
- Heartworm: 2 positive
- Lyme: 21 positive
- Ehrlichia species: 26 positive
- Anaplasma species: 1 positive
As a reminder, we recommend pet owners take the following steps to minimize disease risk in dogs:
- Year-round heartworm prevention
- Year-round tick prevention
- Lyme vaccination
- Tick control measures (e.g., pet ‘tick checks’;yard control measures)
Is it time for your dog’s annual 4DX test? Give us a call today!
Author: Dr. C. Noureddine, DVM, MS