Why does my pet need preventive screening tests?
Although your veterinarian can learn a lot by performing a physical examination of your pet, there are some signs of disease that can only be detected with further testing. And this doesn’t just apply to sick pets—it’s important to understand what’s going on inside with pets that appear healthy, too. Blood work can be considered an “internal exam.” It provides an important baseline for your pet’s health as well as highlighting potential future problems to monitor.
What is “normal”, anyway? When we say your pet’s results are “normal”, we mean that they fall within a wide range of values that are “normally” found in the average patient. But your pet isn’t average. Your pet is unique. The best way for us to learn what is truly normal for your pet is to get a snapshot when your pet is young and healthy. That way, if your pet gets sick, we can compare the values today with the values from last year, so we can say “yes, this is still normal for him,” or “no, his kidney values were much lower last year.” Sometimes, the clue isn’t in a single number, but in a trend over time.
Catching things early can make a massive difference in every way – from protecting your pocket book to prolonging your pet’s enjoyment of life.
Here are a few things that may be included in your pet’s annual preventive screening tests:
Complete Blood Count (CBC)
A CBC measures the number of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets in a sample of blood. The numbers of each type of cell give your veterinarian information to help him diagnose anemia, infections and leukemia. If your pet is undergoing treatment for a condition, a complete blood count can help your veterinarian monitor how your pet is responding to the treatment.
Blood-Chemistry PanelA blood-chemistry panel measures your pet’s electrolytes, enzymes and chemical elements of his blood such as calcium and phosphorous levels. These measurements help your veterinarian determine how your pet’s organs, such as kidneys, pancreas and liver, are currently functioning. Blood-chemistry panels also help your veterinarian accurately diagnose and treat illness, as well as monitor your pet’s response to treatment. Your veterinarian may also use the results of a blood-chemistry panel to determine if further testing is needed. Your veterinarian may recommend a chemistry panel to obtain your pet’s baseline values, which can be compared to later tests. Any differences between the baseline values and values measured at a later time will help your veterinarian diagnose new problems
Thyroid function test
A thyroid screen helps determine whether or not your pet’s thyroid gland is functioning properly. Thyroid disease is very common in older cats and dogs. If the screen indicates changes we may recommend further testing of the thyroid gland.
Laboratory testing of your pet’s urine will help your veterinarian detect the presence of specific substances that normally do not appear in urine, including protein, sugar, white blood cells or blood. Measuring the dilution or concentration of urine can also help your veterinarian diagnose illness. Urinalysis can be helpful in diagnosing urinary-tract infections, diabetes, dehydration, kidney problems and other conditions.
Intestinal Parasite Evaluation
Parasites pose a threat not only to your pet but to family members as well. Regular stool testing is important even for indoor pets as parasite eggs can easily be tracked in on your shoes and clothing.