If your dog has visited Union Lake Veterinary Hospital lately, we may have recommended that we perform 4DX testing.  

So what is this crazy sounding test, and does your dog really need to have it done? Keep reading to learn why we’re recommending 4DX testing for many of our canine clients.

4DX Testing for Dogs

The 4DX test is a simple, in-house blood test that provides us with a lot of valuable information about your dog. It is designed as a screening test, which means it can help detect infection related to one of several diseases in seemingly healthy dogs. Just a few drops of blood and eight minutes can help us to determine if your pet has been exposed to:

  • Dirofilaria immitis (heartworms)
  • Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease)
  • Anaplasma phagocytophilum/platys (anaplasmosis)
  • Ehrlichia canis/ewingii (Ehrlichosis)

This is the only available test that allows us to effectively screen our pet patients for six diseases transmitted by mosquitoes and ticks, which we unfortunately have our fair share of here in Michigan.

Why Test

So why is 4DX testing important? The Companion Animal Parasite Council recommends that we test annually for heartworm disease and tick-borne diseases, and for good reason.

Heartworm disease is a devastating infection that results from the bite of an infected mosquito. Affected pets play host to large heartworms (often 6-8 inches in length) that reside in the heart and major blood vessels of the lungs. Because the early stages of infection are often without symptoms, blood testing of seemingly healthy animals is the best way to detect heartworms before they result in heart failure. Even loving, responsible pet owners can forget to reapply heartworm medication, and mosquitos can reach indoor pets via doors and windows.

Tick-borne diseases are also serious business. The bacteria that cause them take residence in the body, causing chronic infection whose symptoms may wax and wane. That makes early detection with 4DX testing even more important.

Symptoms of tick-borne diseases can be vague, including:

  • Fever (may come and go)
  • General depression
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Pain, especially in joints
  • Swelling in joints
  • Enlarged lymph nodes

Because a large number of disease conditions may result in similar symptoms, screening for tick-borne diseases can save a lot of money and time. If we detect exposure to these bacteria, treatment is often a simple course of antibiotics. If left untreated, these tick-borne diseases can have much more serious consequences.

Being proactive about your pet’s health is never a bad strategy. Union Lake Veterinary Hospital recommends 4DX testing as well as routine blood testing for all of our dog patients. Testing every year allows us to get an early warning of potential issues in order to start treatment before symptoms worsen and become more obvious. 4DX testing can also be a great relief for pet owners to know that we see no signs of those infections in your pet. This testing allows us to better accomplish our goal of keeping your pets healthy.