So, my vet says I need to have a heartworm test in order to “refill” his prescription, despite the fact that my dog is up to date on his heartworm meds. They says they can’t prescribe any more medication until he has the test because it is not safe, and it’s against the law. Is this really medically necessary, or against the law?
If it is against the law, it should be a state law. Perhaps that is something you can check out? I’m rusty in regards to that part.
The following is a bit disjointed, but follow me, please…
Some clinicians, if you have a good regular record, may write the prescription. Others would at least want to see the dog, even if they don’t do the test. Others may write you the prescription (so that you can take it anywhere you want) after seeing the animal and doing the test.
Think of it of the clinician “CHA”. And also, a way for it to work for yourself. The clinician has only your word. He needs some proof that the animal truly is heartworm negative before starting the next cycle. You say you gave the meds once a month every month (for 12 months), yet how can he be sure you didn’t skip a month and then gave 2 at the same time, or skipped 6 months and just doubled the other 6? Or that you gave more frequently at the beginning and now the animal has been out of the meds for four months?
Also, it is rare, but not unheard, of the medicines failing and the dog getting heartworm infection. In those cases, the clients don’t have to pay, and they can be covered by the pharmaceutical company. But the drug company won’t pay unless there is definite proof that the animal was using the drug as directed. Which means an annual negative heartworm test and history of buying the medicine. And again, if your dog is the unlucky one that has the drug failure, your vet will pick it up sooner rather than later.
My vet insists on retesting every other year. I don’t know if it varies from state to state or what. Even tho I keep my ‘kids’ on Interceptor year-round, I always hold my breath till I get those negatives back.
My vet in California reissues the heartworm meds every year without a test. We have a MAJOR problem with heartworm here and I’m guessing they would rather have you stay on the meds. I also have several animals (3 dogs and 4 cats) and am in the office once a month or so with one or the other. So they know I’m keeping up with them. I DO know of other vets in the area that are requiring annual tests.
I don’t remember a question about retesting for heartworm medication being specifically asked on the state board of Georgia (or Puerto Rico). It was not asked, IIRC, in the NAVLE (national boards).
BUT, a vet has an obligation to follow the instructions given out by the company regarding proper, legal use of the medication dispensed. And if the company calls for yearly heartworm testing… then it will be Standard Operating Procedure to do so. If the vet does NOT do it, and the animal is later found to have heartworm, the vet is in a tough position, both with his/her client (for failing to follow SOP), and with the drug company (for misuse of the product, and perhaps not wanting to cover treatment).
Thank you for all the replies. The issue is that I had my dog in for an annual checkup on about 2 weeks ago, and I told them I still had heartworm medication left, so I didnt think I needed a test, just a prescription for when it runs out in 2 months. They did not tell me then that they wouldn’t give me the scrip without having a test done. So yesterday, I go in to pick up the scrip and they tell me I need to do the $50 test, even though he is still on the medication, and has never been off.
My issue with this is that my pet insurance will treat any subsequent visit as a new visit, and since the test is below my deductible, it will have to be paid out of pocket. It also bothers me because this vet has a habit of ordering tests “just to be safe”, and guilt tripping you into agreeing to them. I suppose that is partly my fault, but I always feel like I go in unprepared to call her on it.