Seaforth Animal Hospital

80205 North Line
Seaforth, ON N0K 1W0


4Dx: the Four-Way Blood Test That Saves Canine Lives

The 4Dx test for dogs is the most reliable way to screen for heartworm and tick-borne infections. Every dog should get a 4DX test yearly, either during its annual exam or in the spring before re-starting parasite prevention. Not only can this save your pet’s life, but it can also save you thousands of dollars in critical treatment should your dog come down with any of these awful diseases.

4Dx test for dogs - What it is and how it works

This simple blood test uses cutting-edge technology to detect four markers—heartworm antigen, Lyme disease antibody, Ehrlichia and Anaplasma antibodies. 

Benefits of the 4Dx test for dogs

  1. It’s fast and accurate – usually same day or next day test results are available. 
  2. It’s efficient – requires only a few drops of blood.
  3. Early detection of these hazardous diseases saves lives and saves money because we can treat early before they become a critical problem. 

Understanding the markers detected by the 4Dx test for dogs

The 4Dx test for dogs measures 4 infectious disease markers from a small blood sample:

Test 1: Heartworms are spread by mosquitos; and mosquitos that carry heartworm have become more prevalent over the last few years. This is partly because  many dogs from the southern USA were relocated to our area after Hurricane Katrina. Many of these dogs carried heartworm and passed it along to the local mosquito population. Whenever a healthy dog gets bitten by a mosquito carrying heartworm, microfilaria (or baby heartworms) spend the next 6 months developing into adults in the dog’s heart and lungs. Over time they cause irreversible damage to both of these organs. Some dogs don’t show symptoms until it’s too late; while others may develop a cough, lose their tolerance for exercise, or act lethargic. 

Test 2: Lyme Disease is probably the most famous tick-borne disease. It is also the most prevalent in our area., annual exams are when most of these cases get caught—thanks in large part to 4DX screenings. This is very important because most dogs with the disease don’t show symptoms during the crucial early stages. The longer a case of Lyme is untreated, the worse it gets. Lyme disease is most known for causing joint pain and lameness, but it can also cause kidney failure and death. 

Test 3: Ehrlichia is the second tick-borne disease. Ehrlichia may cause lethargy, depression, anorexia, fever, neurologic signs, and eye pain. The scariest symptom of Ehrlichia is spontaneous bleeding, which is caused because the disease attacks platelets in the blood, and prevents the blood from clotting. Needless to say, this free-bleeding can be life-threatening and requires hospitalization. If diagnosed early with 4DX, Ehrlichia is easily treated with a course of antibiotics.

Test 4: Anaplasma is the third tick-borne disease with a very similar in presentation to Ehrlichia. By testing yearly with the 4DX, the disease may be caught before symptoms develop which can be life-saving. 

Is there a specific time to perform the 4dx test for dogs?

Yes, the 4Dx test should be performed at least once a year to keep your dog safe from heartworm and tick-borne diseases. The test is performed either at the time of your pet’s annual exam or it is performed in the spring or early summer to detect heartworm exposure from the previous summer.

It’s also important to perform the 4Dx test if your pet misses a dose of preventative medication, if your pet is exhibiting any signs of illness, or if they have been exposed to ticks or mosquitos. Your veterinarian will generally recommend a 4Dx test for your dog approximately 4 weeks after tick exposure.

Even if your dog takes heartworm and tick preventatives, it is still recommended to test yearly.  This is to ensure that the preventives have been effective and your dog is still protected from these diseases.  Although we have access to the best and safest heartworm and tick preventatives, sometimes there is a break in protection because of a missed or late dose, a dog who spits out a pill, travel to endemic areas, or unseasonable warm weather if you are not using all year long monthly prevention.  

Adding a 4DX to your dog’s annual wellness exam can be a life-saving diagnostic. Paired with effective heartworm and flea and tick preventatives, the 4DX helps keep your dog healthy for a long and happy life.