Vail Pet Talk Column: Why blood work?
It’s time for Rudy’s annual check up. Rudy is an 8-year-old Golden Retriever who seemingly is doing so well for his age. He eats, drinks, maybe has gained a few pounds as he slows down, but you as his owner feel, well, he’s doing fine.
Is he though? You arrive at your veterinarian’s office where Rudy’s annual physical examination has finished, and then it is suggested you consider “bloodwork and urinealysis.” Are you finding yourself wondering why?
We as veterinarians, often recommend a routine blood screening and urinealysis, especially in senior dogs and cats, and prior to anesthesia as these laboratory tests can easily identify any problems your pet may have internally, long before the clinical signs are seen in your pet. Early detection of problems can mean more treatment options many times, and slow the progression of the disease. I am amazed at how many times throughout the years I have detected disease processes in pets as early as 6 months of age, and how I have been able to give that pet so much more longevity because of it. In the case of anesthesia, having that routine blood screen allows us to determine if your pet can properly process the anesthetics we are administering, and that will assure if your pet will handle the anesthesia during the procedure as well as during the recovery process.
WHAT ARE THEY LOOKING FOR?
When your veterinarian draws your pet’s blood, what are they looking for?
Bloodwork tells us so much of the story as to what is happening within your pet’s body. The tests most commonly run are something called a “CBC” or a complete blood count. This allows your veterinarian to see what is going on within the blood cells themselves. Is there an infection? Is it bacterial or viral? Is there blood loss? Is there blood destruction? Is there a problem with blood clotting? Wow! All that information in one simple test.
The second blood test is often a blood chemistry with electrolytes. This allows us to see what is happening in the organs of your pet. For example, we can look for kidney functions, diabetes, pancreatitis, liver functions, even cancer. Again, so much information in a small amount of blood. Then comes the urinealysis.
This simple test can tell us about kidney function, protein loss from the kidneys or gut, infection, infection in the urine, diabetes, etc. All of this information is so useful for us as we establish a baseline in a healthy pet, or try to detect early disease processes, and even follow the progression of a current disease.
So, the next time you take your pet in for his or her annual exam, ask about routine blood and urine screening in your pet, and be rest assured you have a good baseline as to the inside of your pet as well as the outside.
Have a terrific spring with your pet.
Sheila Fitzpatrick, DVM, owner of Mountain Mobile Vet and The Animal Hospital Center, submitted this column. You can reach her at 970-328-7085.