Most veterinarians urge you to bring your pet in annually for a complete physical exam. During this exam, they will normally have their vaccines, and depending on their age/breed the vet will suggest wellness testing. The need for wellness testing is especially important once the pet enters his or her senior years.
What exactly is wellness testing?
This refers to a variety of different blood tests. Occasionally your vet may recommend additional tests, such as a urinalysis in order to verify the health of your pet. Most wellness testing can be done on-site by your trained veterinary team, and results can be made available fairly quickly. If a specific test is unable to be performed on-site, it will normally be sent to an outside lab for testing.
My pet seems healthy, is it really necessary to have blood work done?
The reason that we recommend blood work on a yearly basis is because many times there are changes going on within the body that aren’t yet apparent. Many diseases do not show symptoms initially until they become quite severe. If we can discover a disease process in it’s earliest stages, we can be proactive. This way, your pet can live longer and much more comfortably!
As well, pets tend to age much quicker than humans, and many changes can happen withing a year. Did you know that your pet enters his senior years around the age of seven? This may not seem old to you, but your pet may start developing certain diseases related to old age, such as diabetes or cancer at this time.
One more reason for wellness testing, is that we need to find your pet’s normal ‘values’ based on his or her blood work. The reference range for each item in the blood test has been chosen based on the average of these values in random healthy animals. This may not be the normal range for your pet. By doing the annual blood test we can find your pet’s normal value. Your dog may have normal elevated liver enzymes for example. This specifically helps recognize a problem when your dog is sick and a blood test needs to be done. Another example is if your cat normally has slightly elevated thyroid levels, if he or she were to get sick and the thyroid levels drop, this would be abnormal for your cat. (even though they would now be falling within a more normal range).
What type of blood tests do we normally perform?
CBC- CBC stands for ‘complete blood count’. All cells within the blood are counted and compared to a normal reference range. Red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets should be within normal limits, or there may be something happening internally. This can help your vet indicate whether or not there is an infection, anemia or certain cancers present, among other conditions.
Chemistry- This type of blood test gives us a glimpse at your pet’s organ function. It looks at the function of such organs as: the kidneys, liver and pancreas and can detect if your pet has liver or kidney disease and to what extent, as well as other issues.
Thyroid Function- We can check the levels of thyroid hormone circulating within your pet. As pets age, they may become more prone to issues with the thyroid, as it is fairly common in ageing cats and dogs. This will let your veterinarian know whether the thyroid levels are too high (hyperthyroidism) or too low(hypothyroidism). These conditions can both be treated with proper medications once diagnosed.
If any of your pet’s blood values are out of normal range, your veterinarian will speak to you about it’s particular implications. Many diseases are easily treated in the early stages and many times can be easily followed up on in order to track your pets progress. This will give him or her the best chance of a long healthy life.
Where can I learn more on wellness testing?
If you are unsure about whether or not you would like wellness testing performed on your pet, or would like more details, please speak with the staff of Lansdowne Animal Hospital for some friendly professional advice.