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When should my pet have blood work performed?

Pets of any age can have problems with their internal organs. Many young purebred cats and dogs will have congenital liver, kidney, and heart problems. As pets age, their immune system and health starts to decline and they can have multiple organ problems.

Any anesthetic / surgical procedure

As discussed, a normal physical examination cannot give us complete confidence that the internal organs are working properly. While the anesthetics that we use are extremely safe for your pet and therefore minimize risk, if a pet is not completely healthy then potential complications can occur both during and after the anesthetic procedure. Pre-anesthetic blood work can alert us to any hidden problems that your pet may have. With this knowledge, we may elect to forego the anesthetic/surgical procedure, modify the anesthetic regimen, or change your pet’s medication. While performing blood work cannot guarantee that your pet will not have any problems with the anesthesia or surgical procedure, it can significantly minimize the risk to your pet and give both of us peace of mind. In fact, we feel so strongly about bloodwork, that it is REQUIRED for a pet undergoing any anesthetic procedure at our hospital.

Young animals

Blood work is required for young pets undergoing any anesthetic/surgical procedure. Also if a problem such as liver or kidney disease is suspected, then blood work will help to identify this. A significant percentage of young animals, especially purebred dogs and cats, can have congenital or hereditary problems such as portosystemic shunts (liver), kidney disease, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), and diabetes.

Mature adults

While most pets experience the best health of their lives between the ages of two and six years of age; stress, illnesses, and poor nutrition can affect and potentially cause disease to their organs. Blood work at this point will detect these early changes and provide a good baseline for comparison to later on in the pet’s life. Treatment is usually the most effective when begun in the early stages of the disease process.

Senior and Geriatric Pets

We feel that blood work is of critical importance for our older pets. For giant dog breeds, senior status is attained at five to six years of age. Yes, we do not like to admit it, but our pets are senior citizens at seven years of age. Because of rapid aging changes at this stage of your pet’s life, we highly recommend blood work on an annual basis. We can compare current and previous blood results in order to evaluate the process of a disease and its response to therapy. Common diseases include heart disease, liver and kidney disease, arthritis, diabetes, thyroid disease, and dental (tooth) disease. Advances in medical diagnostics and treatment enable us to help your pet be more comfortable and also to prolong its life. New pain management medications also help pets with chronic pain have a better quality of life. In addition to medications, appropriate nutrition for your pet’s condition will also prolong its lifespan.

If my pet’s blood work is normal then have I wasted my money?

Absolutely not. A normal result on blood work is great! We now have a baseline for how your pet is doing at this time. If future blood work reveals changes, then we can tell how long the problem has been going on and are assured that we are indeed catching the problem early. Normal blood work results give both of us peace of mind that your pet is doing well.

What kind of blood work do you perform?

Complete Blood Cell Count

This test provides information about the various types of blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen to tissues. White blood cells are the body’s primary defense against infection. Platelets are involved in the clotting process. Abnormalities with any of these values help to potentially detect anemia, inflammation, acute or chronic infection, bleeding disorders, blood parasites, dehydration and autoimmune diseases.

Comprehensive Serum Blood Chemistry

This is a series of individual tests that analyzed together give us valuable information concerning the kidneys, liver, pancreas, intestinal tract, and endocrine diseases.

  • BUN, CREATININE, and PHOSPHORUS—kidney
  • ALT, ALKALINE PHOSPHATASE, and BILIRUBIN—liver
  • AMYLASE and LIPASE–pancreas
  • TOTAL PROTEIN and GLOBULIN—immune system, dehydration
  • GLUCOSE—diabetes, insulin tumor
  • CHOLESTEROL—hypothyroidism, cushings disease, pancreatitis
  • CALCIUM—kidney disease, hyperparathyroidism, some tumors
  • ELECTROLYTES—endocrine diseases, kidney, and dehydration