Heartworm test for dogs at home (Best Rapid Tests)

Thinking your dog might have heartworm can be very worrisome. The cost of heartworm treatment can be costly so any money that can be saved is crucial. In this blog, we’ll delve into the best heartworm test for dogs at home (Best rapid tests). Discover how these user-friendly tests can empower you to take proactive steps in safeguarding your dog’s heart health. Below you will find the topics we will discuss in this blog post.

  • What is heartworm in dogs?
  • What are the signs of heartworm in a dog?
  • At-home heartworm test vs. test at the vet
  • Best at-home heartworm test to use for a dog
  • How does an at-home heartworm test work?
  • What to do with a positive or negative at-home heartworm test result
  • Summary
puppy having blood drawn at vet

What is heartworm in dogs?

Heartworm disease is a severe and potentially life-threatening condition that can affect our beloved canine companions. Heartworms are parasitic worms that, when left untreated, can infest a dog’s heart, lungs, and blood vessels, causing severe health issues. They are also caused by mosquito bites.  Therefore,  prevention is critical during the warmer months when mosquitos tend to come out often. You can find out more about the disease here in this blog post. The American Heartworm Society is also an excellent resource for information as well.

What are the signs of heartworm in a dog?

Detecting heartworm disease in its early stages is crucial for ensuring the best possible outcome for your canine companion. Over 100,000 dogs in the United States are diagnosed with heartworm each year. While heartworms can lurk silently for a while, they can manifest subtle symptoms pet owners will begin to recognize. The quicker you intervene the better chance your dog will be in the early stage of the disease and you will be able to avoid heart failure. Here are some common signs and symptoms to be on the lookout for:

Coughing and Respiratory Distress:

One of the initial clinical signs of heartworm infection is a persistent cough. As the disease progresses, your dog may experience difficulty breathing and wheezing, as the heartworms obstruct blood flow and settle in the lungs.

Lethargy and Exercise Intolerance:

Infected dogs often become less active, tire easily, and may be reluctant to engage in physical activities they once enjoyed. This reduced stamina and energy levels can be a telling sign of heartworm disease.

Weight Loss and Poor Appetite:

Unexplained weight loss and a loss of appetite are common in dogs with heartworms. The parasites disrupt normal bodily functions, leading to a decline in overall health.

Bulging Chest and Abdomen:

In severe cases, heartworm disease can cause fluid accumulation in the chest and abdomen, leading to a noticeable enlargement. This can be a late-stage symptom and should be addressed immediately.

Lethargy and General Malaise:

Infected dogs may exhibit an overall sense of discomfort and lethargy. They might appear uninterested in their surroundings and less responsive to stimuli.

It’s important to note that the severity and presentation of symptoms can vary from dog to dog, and some dogs may show no outward signs until the disease has progressed significantly. Therefore, regular veterinary check-ups and heartworm testing are essential for early detection and effective treatment. 

two dogs hanging out of a car with sungalsses on

At-home heartworm test vs. test at the vet

When it comes to monitoring your dog’s health for heartworm disease, you have two primary options: conducting an at-home heartworm test or scheduling a test at the vet’s office. Each approach has its advantages and considerations. Let’s delve into the key differences between these two testing methods to help you make an informed decision.


At-Home Test: At-home heartworm tests offer unparalleled convenience. You can purchase kits online or from pet supply stores, follow the instructions, and obtain results in the comfort of your home. You can find some great options here to purchase your at-home heartworm kit. Keep in mind that you will need to take a small blood sample from your dog for most tests. So if blood makes you queasy, best to take your dog to the vet. 

Vet Test: Testing at the vet’s office involves scheduling an appointment, making a trip to the clinic, and waiting for the results. While some pet owners prefer the guidance of a professional, others find this process less convenient.


At-Home Test: At-home heartworm tests are typically more cost-effective than vet-administered tests. You pay for the kit itself and the potential shipping costs, but it’s often a budget-friendly option. Average at-home test costs about 

Vet Test: Testing at the vet’s office may be more expensive due to the additional service fees associated with the visit. However, some pet owners are willing to pay more for the peace of mind that comes with professional testing. A vet visit alone costs XXX. You can find additional vet costs here in this post.


At-Home Test: At-home dog heartworm tests have come a long way in terms of accuracy, but there is still a slight chance of user error or a false positive result. Ensure you follow the instructions meticulously. It might be best to test twice in case you have a defective test as well. Better to be safe vs. sorry. You can find great deals for your year check-in heartworm test at home here.

Vet Test: Veterinary clinics use highly accurate tests, and professionals are trained to administer them correctly. This reduces the risk of false positives or false negatives and provides reliable results. In most cases, testing at a vet is going to give you very accurate results. This is why if you suspect your dog may have heartworm, it’s best to take them straight to the vet for further testing so you can begin the right treatment.


At-Home Test: An at-home dog heartworm test allows you to monitor your dog’s heartworm status regularly, which can be especially beneficial in high-risk areas or for dogs with a history of exposure.

Vet Test: Veterinarians often recommend annual heartworm testing during routine check-ups, making it a suitable choice for those who prefer less frequent testing.

Professional Guidance:

At-Home Test: While at-home tests come with clear instructions, they lack the professional guidance and expertise you’d receive at a veterinary clinic. Some companies may have customer service you can reach out to help guide you through the instructions, keep that in mind when researching to find the best one for you and your dog. 

​Vet Test: A vet-administered test provides an opportunity for your veterinarian to discuss the results with you, offer treatment options if necessary, and guide heartworm prevention.

In conclusion, the choice between an at-home heartworm test and a test at the vet depends on your preferences, your dog’s risk factors, and your budget. Some pet owners opt for a combination of both—using at-home tests for regular monitoring and visiting the vet for annual check-ups. Regardless of your choice, the key is to prioritize regular heartworm testing to ensure your dog’s continued well-being.

​My opinion: For a yearly check-up for a heartworm test, an at-home test is good to use to save on cost and time. If your dog is experiencing symptoms of heartworm and you think they might be heartworm-positive, it’s best to have them examined and tested at a vet. The vet will understand what next steps you need to take for heartworm treatment if your dog needs it.

How does an at-home heartworm test work?

Testing your dog for heartworm using an at-home test is a straightforward process that includes a simple blood test for most. Be sure to always read the directions of the test your purchase. Below you will find common steps that an at-home heartworm test will require of a dog owner.

Step 1: Acquire a reliable test kit and carefully read the provided instructions. You can find a well-reviewed at-home heartworm test for your dog here. 

Step 2: Gather the necessary supplies, which usually include the test kit, a clean surface, gloves, and a timer. 

Step 3: Choose a quiet area and ensure your dog is comfortable. 

Step 4: Collect a small blood sample by pricking your dog’s skin as directed, then apply it to the test device. 

Step 5: Wait for the designated time, typically 5-10 minutes, without disturbing the device. 

Step 6: Interpret the results, indicated as positive, negative, or invalid, following the kit’s guidelines. 

Step 7: Properly dispose of used materials, and in case of a positive result or any concerns, promptly contact your veterinarian for guidance, confirmation, and potential treatment options. 

​Step 8: Be sure to conduct annual heartworm testing on your dog. Early detection is critical for effective treatment of a dog’s heart.

What to do with a home-home positive heartworm test or negative test result

Whether the test indicates a positive or negative result, it’s essential to understand the appropriate steps to take next. Let’s explore what to do in each scenario.

5 Steps to take if your dog is heartworm positive 

Step 1 – Confirm the Result: Before panicking, it’s crucial to confirm the positive result with another heartworm test, preferably one administered by your veterinarian. False positives can occur with at-home tests due to user error or other factors. It is best to have two positive tests at home to be sure and then reach out to your vet to understand the next steps for treatment. 

Step 2 – Consult Your Vet: Contact your veterinarian immediately to discuss the positive result. Your vet will perform additional tests, such as blood work and imaging, to determine the extent of the infection and its impact on your dog’s health.

Step 3 – Treatment Options: If your dog is diagnosed with heartworm disease, your veterinarian will discuss treatment options. Treatment can be costly and lengthy, but it’s essential to prevent the disease from progressing and causing further harm. Further diagnostic tests are likely and you will want to have your vet take additional blood tests if required.

Step 4 – Follow the Treatment Plan: Adhere to your veterinarian’s treatment plan diligently. This may include medications, rest, and activity restrictions. Follow-up visits are essential to monitor progress and adjust the treatment as needed.

Step 5 – Prevent Future Infections: Once your dog has recovered, work with your vet to establish a heartworm prevention plan to prevent future infections. Prevention is easier and more cost-effective than treatment.

cute pup with their owner getting ready for an at home heartworm test

5 Steps to take if your dog is heartworm positive 

Step 1 – Continue Preventative Measures: A negative result doesn’t mean your dog is immune to heartworms. Continue administering heartworm preventatives as recommended by your veterinarian. Prevention is key to keeping your dog safe.

Step 2 – Regular Testing: If you live in an area with a high prevalence of heartworm disease, your vet may recommend annual testing, even if your dog’s previous results were negative. Regular testing helps catch infections in their early stages.

Step 3 – Stay Informed: Keep yourself informed about heartworm prevention, symptoms, and risk factors. Awareness is your best defense against this potentially devastating disease.

Step 4 – Maintain Routine Vet Visits: Regular veterinary check-ups are essential for your dog’s overall health. Use these visits to discuss heartworm prevention, vaccinations, and any concerns you may have.

Step 5 – Monitor for Symptoms: Even with a negative test result, it’s wise to keep an eye out for any signs of illness in your dog, such as coughing, lethargy, or changes in appetite. Promptly report any unusual symptoms to your veterinarian.

In both scenarios, open communication with your veterinarian is crucial. They can provide guidance tailored to your dog’s specific needs and ensure that you’re taking the best possible steps to protect your furry friend from heartworm disease. Remember, early detection and prevention are your best allies in keeping your dog healthy and happy.


In our blog post, “Heartworm Test for Dogs at Home (Best Rapid Tests),” we explore the world of at-home heartworm testing, shedding light on the top rapid test options available to pet owners. We delve into the importance of heartworm prevention and early detection and discuss the convenience, cost-effectiveness, and accuracy of at-home tests compared to traditional vet-administered ones. Additionally, we provide valuable insights on what to do with both positive and negative test results, emphasizing the significance of proactive heartworm management in safeguarding the health and well-being of our canine companions. As dog owners, your dogs must take prevention medication to help ensure they don’t test positive for heartworm.