I can imagine we have all had the experience of receiving a post card, email or text reminder letting us know that our furry companion is due for their yearly exam and vaccines. However, I also think that the expectation of that visit probably does not include a blood and urine submission for a fuller systemic evaluation. Unfortunately, bloodwork is often not considered as part of an annual exam by many pet owners and often do not consent to bloodwork unless their pet is actively suffering from an illness. At that notion, I would challenge that annual blood work is a key ingredient that should not be forgotten during the annual examination process.
The looming evaluation of bloodwork is mysterious to many clients who often are unaware of the valuable knowledge obtained from this recommended annual submission. Not only can bloodwork identify acute or emerging disease, it can aid in evaluating progressive disease. Often overlooked, is the importance of establishing a baseline result when your pet is at its optimum state of health. By establishing a baseline value for your pet’s systemic function, we are better able to evaluate and identify increasing trends and normal patterns in your pet’s overall health status.
You may hear that your pet’s bloodwork will include a CBC which is an evaluation of their red and white blood cell levels. This may seem vague; however, these values will quickly illuminate if your pet is anemic, producing a proper number of platelets enabling the body to clot blood appropriately, have an active systemic infection, parasitic or otherwise and/or have the threat of a cancerous process.
Furthermore, a CBC is often paired with a Chemistry panel. Several very important systems are evaluated in this panel such as liver, kidney and gall bladder function with the addition of the overall level of protein, glucose and electrolytes. Unfortunately, liver and kidney function can begin to decline in our aging pets but with early evidence of this decline, earlier prevention and/or treatment can be initiated.
As our pets begin to reach a mature/senior status, it is recommended that bloodwork be completed every 6 months due to the increased progression of change with aging. These evaluations can greatly increase the chances of discovering emerging disease before it starts to cause significant clinical symptoms and changes in your pet’s behavior. Often with senior bloodwork panels, the thyroid level is checked for decreased or increased function. Additionally, a urinalysis is submitted to further evaluate for the ability to concentrate urine appropriately, the presence of protein leaking into the urine and if there is the presence of any glucose which may signify the presence of Diabetes.
Ultimately, despite your pet’s age and health status, performing annual bloodwork is the best way to complete your pet’s overall health evaluation. Please consider this at your pet’s next annual exam and feel free to contact the veterinarians at the Animal Hospital at Lake Brandt with any additional questions about your pet’s overall wellness care.