Unless you are Dr. Doolittle, you cannot simply ask your pet what’s ailing her. Routine wellness lab work lets us keep up-to-date on your pet’s health and catch potential problems early.
Why are wellness tests recommended?
Animals often hide signs of illness and may appear healthy, even when disease is present. The disease may advance before the animal shows outward signs of being ill.
But, you don’t have to wait until your pet shows signs of illness to determine the problem and begin treating it. Routine wellness visits can identify disease signs early, and diagnostic testing can be performed to garner additional information about your pet’s health status. Catching a disease in its early stages leads to a better prognosis and usually costs less to treat than when the disease is advanced. Be proactive about your pet’s health and longevity by participating in wellness lab work recommended specifically for her species, breed, and age.
Blood work tests should first be performed when your pet is young to provide a normal baseline Then, annual testing will allow comparisons for any abnormalities in your pet’s values. Some blood tests we may recommend include:
- Complete blood count (CBC) — A CBC quantifies the three different blood components: red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Changes in numbers can indicate abnormalities in your pet’s immune system and bone marrow, including anemia, infections, stress, clotting issues, and organ-based diseases.
- Chemistry profile — The chemistry profile type will depend on your pet’s health. If she is healthy, we will take a standard, “short” profile to measure her glucose level and kidney and liver function. If she is sick, a more intensive panel that checks her electrolytes and possible imbalances will be taken so we can accurately diagnose her condition. If she takes lifelong medications, such as heart, seizure, or pain medication, routine blood work is necessary to verify that your pet is taking the correct dosage and is not experiencing adverse side effects.
- Thyroid panel — Just like humans, aging pets can develop problems such as thyroid issues—cats are commonly hyperthyroid, while dogs are more likely hypothyroid. An overactive or under-producing thyroid gland can influence weight, skin, metabolism, and cardiac output.
A clean urine sample holds a wealth of information about your pet’s urinary tract, including her kidneys and bladder. A routine urinalysis, which checks for signs of infection, inflammation, abnormal pH, dilution, cancerous cells, or glucose, can indicate early signs of urinary tract infections, bladder stone formation, kidney disease, diabetes, or bladder cancer.
Collecting a fecal specimen is easier than catching a urine sample. The sample will be checked for worms in the egg form to determine if your pet has a parasite problem. The sample needs to be fresh because if it is too old or left at room temperature, the eggs will hatch and make correct parasite identification difficult. Also, animals showing no signs of diarrhea or bloody stool can still shed parasite eggs, so be sure your pet receives routine fecal testing to prevent transmission to other pets or people.
Radiographs (X-rays) are not usually warranted in younger pets, but aging pets may develop cancer or diseases of the heart, liver, or kidneys. Senior pets should have regular X-rays to watch for changes in the shape and size of their heart, lungs, and kidneys; lung clarity; masses; and spinal or joint bony changes.
Is your pet due for her annual physical exam? Her prognosis will be much improved by catching a disease in the early stages. Give us a call to schedule your furry friend’s next wellness visit.