Routine Blood Tests Save Lives and Dollars

Most animals will hide any illness or pain as much as possible. Many times they will not show physical symptoms until a disease is in an advanced state. We recommend that senior pets should have routine blood testing every 6 – 12 months. These blood tests help veterinarians detect illnesses and infections early. Early detection leads to early treatment. Treating diseases early tends to be easier and less expensive. In some cases early detection and treatment can save a pet’s life.

The number and frequency of tests depends on your pet’s age, overall health, chronic medications, and the need for anesthetic procedures. A routine blood screening includes a complete blood count (CBC), blood chemistry, urinalysis, and thyroid assay (T4).

In addition to the routine blood testing recommended for geriatric pets your veterinarian recommends testing for heartworm disease annually in dogs of all ages. The American Heartworm Society recommends annual testing and year-round prevention of this potentially deadly disease. A number of tests are available for heartworm disease. One of the frequently used tests is known as the Idexx 4DX. In addition to heartworm disease the 4DX tests for Lyme disease, Anaplasma phagocytophilum, and Ehrlichia canis. These are common tick-borne disease that can cause a number of illnesses ranging from mild chronic fatigue and limping to more severe life-threatening problems such as kidney failure, anemia, and thrombocytopenia (low platelets which can lead to bleeding).

Tests: What they tels your veterinarian:

The CBC evaluates the cells in the blood including the red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. This test helps diagnose anemia, potential bleeding problems, immune disease, blood parasites, infections, bone marrow disease, and some cancers. It is also an important part of monitoring pets on chronic medications.

The chemistry panel helps evaluate a number of organs in the body including liver, kidneys, and the pancreas. The chemistry panel is very useful for identifying problems in these organs before a pet is showing symptoms.

A urinalysis helps look for evidence of urinary tract infection, bladder stones, and bladder tumors. The urinalysis is also a very sensitive way to pick up early kidney dysfunction.

The thyroid hormone helps regulate the metabolism of dogs and cats. As dogs age they may become hypothyroid (low thyroid). This can cause weight gain, poor hair coat, and lack of energy. Screening the T4 can detect a thyroid problem requiring further testing or therapy. In cats the opposite occurs, they become hyperthyroid (high thyroid). This can be a very serious condition in cats causing weight loss and heart abnormalities. Early detection and treatment can make this a very manageable disease and help extend their lives.