An Owner’s Guide to Wellness Bloodwork

At Veterinary Services, Ltd, your pets are our priority, because we know that keeping them healthy is your priority! One of the best ways to help pets live long and happy lives is to help prevent illnesses rather than just treating them. This starts with regular wellness exams and regular wellness bloodwork. Today we will look at the “why, what, and when” of wellness bloodwork for your pets.

Why do we recommend wellness bloodwork?
There are several reasons that we recommend regular wellness bloodwork for your pets. While a thorough physical examination is very important, there are conditions that cannot be diagnosed by physical exam alone. Abnormal bloodwork results in young dogs and cats can indicate congenital conditions such as liver or kidney disease, while abnormal results in adult and older pets can indicate chronic diseases such as liver and kidney disease, diabetes, and other endocrine diseases. Mild abnormalities in bloodwork values may not cause symptoms in your pets, but early diagnosis can mean more effective treatment.

Even completely normal bloodwork results, in pets of any age, have value! These normal results provide baseline values specific for your pet, allowing Dr. Wood to more easily compare test results and catch irregularities should they become sick. Bloodwork can also provide important information about anesthetic safety for your pets, young or old.

What is involved in wellness bloodwork?
For both dogs and cats, wellness bloodwork at Veterinary Services consists of a complete blood count (CBC) and chemistry profile. (In dogs, wellness bloodwork also includes a heartworm test, an important blood test to check for the presence of heartworms in your dog.) So what exactly are we looking for from the CBC and chemistry profile?

The CBC gives a detailed look at the red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets in your pet’s blood. Red blood cells carry oxygen to your pet’s tissues, and low levels (anemia) can cause your pet to be overly tired. White blood cells are important for your pet’s immune system function. Changes in white blood cell levels can indicate infection, inflammation, or other disease. Platelets are an important part of your pet’s blood clotting system. It is important to know your pet’s platelet levels before any surgical procedure and to monitor for any clotting issues in a non-surgical patient.

Your pet’s chemistry profile provides useful information about the health and function of your pet’s organ systems. The chemistry profile consists of 14 different tests that help us to evaluate your pet’s liver, kidneys, pancreas, and other internal organs. Some minor changes may be normal in older pets, but monitoring these changes over time is very important. Some changes may indicate disease that your dog or cat is not showing symptoms of yet, and finding these diseases early can allow for more effective treatment.

At Veterinary Services, we use state-of-the-art laboratory equipment to evaluate your pet’s bloodwork, and results are typically available in only 20 minutes! This allows you to have an immediate consultation with Dr. Wood about your pet’s bloodwork results. After reviewing the results of your pet’s wellness bloodwork with you, we may recommend diet changes or supplements to help improve your pet’s health or to prevent disease. We may also recommend further testing to investigate any abnormal results.

When is the best time to have wellness bloodwork done, and how often?
We recommend checking a puppy or kitten’s bloodwork between 5 and 12 months of age to establish baseline values for that particular pet. In adult pets, we generally recommend regular wellness bloodwork starting around 4 years of age, when some age-related changes can begin to occur. We may recommend starting this yearly testing earlier in large breed dogs and in pets that have had abnormalities in their bloodwork when they were younger. We recommend that wellness bloodwork be done yearly in adult pets. This allows us to monitor changes in values over time.

When was your pet’s last wellness bloodwork? Call Veterinary Services today for more information or to schedule an appointment!

Additional resources
Here is a great video with more information about wellness bloodwork!