Animal Care Clinic recommends an infectious disease screen for all dogs on an annual basis.  This simple blood test checks for heartworm disease, Lyme Disease, Ehrlichiosis, and Anaplasmosis, all of which can be prevented or treated if caught early.

Heartworm Disease

This is a true “spaghetti-like” worm that lives in the heart and lungs.  It is transmitted by mosquitoes and causes signs of heart, lung and liver failure, which can lead to death.  From the time a mosquito bites, it takes at least 6 months until a blood test for the disease will be positive.  Heartworms are not common in San Luis Obispo, but we see significant numbers in Atascadero, the Santa Cruz mountains and other parts of the state.  Treatment success depends on the severity and chronicity of the infection.  Heartworm can be prevented by monthly use of Heartgard Plus, Interceptor, Sentinel or Trifexis.

Lyme Disease

This is a tick-transmitted disease seen most commonly on the East Coast and in the Napa area.  About 1% of dogs in San Luis Obispo County test positive.  Initial signs in dogs usually include lameness.  Long-term infections can cause signs in almost any organ system.  If caught early, Lyme disease is easily treated with antibiotics, but if allowed to become chronic, it can be devastating.  Tick control with Vectra or Preventic collars can prevent the problem.


Another tick-borne disease, ehrlichiosis is rising in frequency in our area and it has become the most common of these four diseases at Animal Care Clinic.  The early phase of the disease causes a short-lived fever and sometimes diarrhea or just fatigue.  With time we begin to see anemia, bleeding disorders, enlarged lymph nodes and a variety of other symptoms.  Treatment is quite successful when instituted early in the disease, but Ehrlichia can be fatal is treatment is delayed.  Prevention is the same as for Lyme Disease – tick control with Vectra or Preventic collars.


Anaplasmosis is also carried by ticks and can be prevented the same way we prevent Ehrlichiosis and Lyme Disease.  We rarely see outward signs of disease in dogs who are positive for Anaplasmosis.  We feel a positive anaplas test is an indication that a dog is being exposed to ticks that carry disease.  It is an important red flag!

The Animal Care Clinic Prevention Plan

We recommend that all dogs not only receive regular vaccinations (usually every 3 years), but that they have annual fecal flotation exams and infectious disease blood screening along with their yearly physical exam.  The use of monthly doses of parasite control products will prevent roundworms, hookworms, fleas, ticks, heartworms, Lyme disease and Ehrlichiosis.  Your dog’s lifestyle, travel patterns and daily routine will influence which prevention measures should be used, and our staff can help you set up the right program for your pets.

Canine Infectious Disease Screen.pdf