While a yearly wellness exam may seem unnecessary if your cat or dog appears to be healthy, a wealth of information is discovered about your pet’s health during these routine visits. Thorough physical examinations alone may not detect diseases, and yearly lab tests are a safe way to catch illnesses in their early stages so they can be more effectively treated.
When is lab work recommended?
In addition to routine wellness visits, lab work can be performed in a variety of situations:
- At the first veterinary visit — If you have adopted an older pet, or if you have a new puppy or kitten, obtaining a baseline blood panel is an excellent idea. Then, if your pet ever falls ill, we will know what her “normal” looks like so we can better understand how her illness is changing her body functions.
- During a sick or injured exam — If your pet is not feeling her best, lab work will help us diagnose the problem.
- Before surgical procedures — Before placing your pet under anesthesia, we will want to determine if she has any underling health issues, such as kidney or liver disease, so we can determine the appropriate anesthetic protocol to keep her safe.
- Prior to starting new medications — All medications have the potential to cause harm, and it can be made even worse if your pet has an underlying disease. Many medications are metabolized by the liver or kidneys, and verifying that those are organs are functioning properly before beginning a new medication is necessary to prevent further harm.
- Biannually at senior wellness visits — Catching the early signs of a disease can prolong your senior pet’s quality of life. Routine lab work on senior or geriatric pets is highly recommended to find signs of illness before they progress and become more difficult to treat.
What lab tests are performed at a wellness visit?
The tests recommended will depend on your pet’s age and lifestyle. At a standard wellness exam, we may suggest:
- Complete blood count (CBC) — A CBC quantifies the different types of red and white blood cells, measures the size of the red blood cells, and counts the number of platelets present. CBC results will help us diagnose anemia, infection, dehydration, blood clotting ability, and immune system response.
- Chemistry panel — Chemistry panels reveal information about how your pet’s kidneys, liver, and thyroid are functioning. Often, an abnormality can clue us into a disease that is in its beginning stages, making it much easier to treat.
- Fecal examination — Checking for intestinal parasites can prevent weight loss, diarrhea, or transmission of these parasites from your pet to you or other human family members.
- Urinalysis — A small amount of urine can provide a wealth of information about your pet’s kidneys and bladder. Routine testing of urine can diagnose urinary tract infections, early kidney disease, and diabetes. Additionally, crystals in the urine can be caught early on, before they have the chance to build into a bladder or kidney stone.
- Blood pressure reading — Many senior pets become hypertensive as they age or contract other diseases. Cats are most susceptible to hypertension, especially if they already have kidney disease, and can suffer damage to the heart, eyes, brain, and kidneys if left undetected.
- Cytology — Sampling your pet’s new lump or swabbing her infection-prone ears for a cytology can help get a jump on a potential problem. We’ll know right away if your furry friend has a benign, fatty tumor or a cancerous mass. Or, she may have a deep ear infection brewing that we need to squash.
Looking to stay on top of your pet’s health and wellness? Call us at 318-797-5522 to schedule an appointment for your furry friend’s routine laboratory workup.