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The Importance of the 4dx snap test for dogs

What is the 4dx snap test? What does it test for? Why should I have my dog tested? How often should my dog be tested? What if my dog is positive for something?

The 4Dx snap test in the veterinary world is a blood test that is run in the hospital and provides results in 8 minutes. The test is a screening process for six vector-borne diseases. We are checking your dog for Heartworm, Lyme, Ehrlichia canis, Ehrlichia ewingi, Anaplasma phagocytophilum and Anaplasma platys. You are probably thinking I haven’t even heard of most of these things why am I testing my dog for them? Your veterinarian is testing for them because ticks in our area are spreading them. Aside from heartworm, which is transmitted through mosquitoes, all of the above are transmitted through ticks.

Your pet should be tested annually. Testing once a year allows your veterinarian to catch any positive detection and treat if needed. These vector borne diseases can be deadly if left undetected and untreated.

Heartworm has been found in dogs in all fifty states. Dogs that are on monthly heartworm medication can still get infected if they are not on the correct dosage or are not getting it every month all year round. Dog owners with very large dogs may need two different size heartworm medications each month to ensure their pet is getting the correct dose for the weight of their dog. While heartworm is treatable and preventable, it is serious and can be fatal. The sooner you start treatment the better.

I think everyone has heard of Lyme disease. If left undetected and untreated Lyme can be damaging. Common health issues include limping, being lethargic, lack of eating, and depression. Most people are not aware of the internal damage it can cause. More serious issues include kidney damage and rarely heart and nervous system disease. (For more information on Lyme disease, please come back and see our Lyme disease blog in April.)

Ehrlichia canis is an infection of the white blood cells. This affects the bone marrow function, including the production of white blood cells. Symptoms can include; loss of appetite, depression, lack of energy, runny eyes, runny nose, spontaneous nose bleeds, joint pain and lameness. Pets are not always symptomatic. Ehrlichia ewingi is an infection of blood cells that leads to joint pain and lameness, loss of energy and lack of appetite. Again pets are not always symptomatic.

Anaplasma phagocytophilum clinical signs include not wanting to move, lethargy, fever, anorexia, and muscle pain. Anaplasma platys has similar symptoms.

All of the above tick-borne diseases have similar symptoms. If left undetected and untreated they can cause more serious internal problems. Annual testing allows us to catch things sooner and treat early. The most common and effective treatment for a dog with a tick-borne disease is Doxycycline, which is an oral antibiotic. The treatment for heartworm positive dogs can vary depending on the stage of the infection.

Many owners feel they don’t need to test for things if their pet is not showing any outwards signs or issues. This is not always true. Proactive testing is very beneficial. In addition to annual 4dx/snap testing it is always a good idea to have regular blood work on your pet before he or she is having health issues to check how the internal organs are functioning. This bloodwork also provides a baseline for your pet. Dogs over the age of 7 and cats over the age of 10 should have annual senior blood work to detect any abnormalities early. Early detection and treatment are always the goal of preventative care.

If you have questions about 4DX testing or if your pet would benefit from other bloodwork consult your primary veterinarian.

Theresa N. Klales

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