If your pet appears to be healthy, what’s the point of running diagnostic tests? That’s a great question, and one our Pet Resort at Stone Ridge team is more than happy to answer! Wellness screening tests are an essential part of your four-legged friend’s veterinary care, and regardless of how healthy your pet appears, these screenings should be performed regularly. Ideally, your pet should have screening tests performed at every wellness visit. First, learn about the most common wellness screening tests for pets and why our team runs them.

Routine wellness screening tests for pets

Your veterinarian determines the wellness screenings your pet should undergo based on your furry pal’s age, lifestyle, and health status. Pets’ annual wellness screening tests typically include:

  • Complete blood count (CBC) — A CBC evaluates and quantifies your pet’s red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Abnormal red blood cell counts, shapes, or sizes can help diagnose anemia and dehydration. Changes in your pet’s white blood cell counts, and the types of cells present, can indicate infection, cancer, allergies, parasites, stress, or inflammation. Platelets are essential for clotting, and if your pet’s count is low, they may be actively bleeding, or their bone marrow is struggling to produce the cells.
  • Blood chemistry panel — The other half of routine blood work evaluates your pet’s blood serum for organ dysfunction, diabetes, and other disease indications, checking their kidney and liver function, and blood sugar and serum protein levels. More comprehensive chemistry panels check for electrolyte imbalances, which can indicate heart disease or endocrine disorders.
  • Fecal exam — Although they are easily prevented through heartworm preventive administration, intestinal parasites are common among pets. By analyzing a small stool sample, your veterinarian checks for parasite eggs that can leach your pet’s nutrition and cause gastrointestinal issues. 
  • Blood-borne parasite testing — Heartworm and tick-borne diseases can cause serious health concerns and potentially death. Knowing your pet’s status is important so treatment can be started promptly.

In addition to these basic diagnostics, your veterinarian will also perform more specific diagnostics. These wellness screening tests can include:

  • Urinalysis — A urinalysis checks your pet’s urine for urinary tract infection (UTI) signs and crystals, and evaluates kidney function. To monitor your diabetic and senior pet’s urinary tract health, your veterinarian will regularly perform urine testing. 
  • Blood pressure check — Senior pets are more likely to develop hypertension in conjunction with other health issues such as heart disease.
  • Thyroid hormone level — Cats are more prone to developing hyperthyroidism and can lose too much weight, despite having a voracious appetite. Dogs with hypothyroidism gain weight and can develop skin condition and behavior changes. 

Depending on your pet’s age, lifestyle, and health status, your veterinarian may recommend additional diagnostic testing. Your veterinarian may perform other wellness screening tests to monitor your pet’s particular health issues.

The value of normal wellness screening test results

When your pet appears to be perfectly healthy, you may feel screening tests are an unwise use of your pet care budget. However, wellness screening tests are incredibly important for several reasons, including:

  • Checking for early-stage disease — If your veterinarian performed diagnostic tests on your pet only when they show visible illness or disease signs, your furry pal’s condition may become too advanced to treat easily. For example, senior cats who develop kidney disease often do not display the classic signs—vomiting and excessive thirst and urination—until roughly two-thirds of their renal function is already lost. By performing routine wellness testing, your veterinarian can spot disease in its earliest stages, and administer the most effective and successful treatment.
  • Obtaining your pet’s normal values — When your pet’s test results all come back normal, that’s great news for you and your furry pal. This information is also beneficial for your pet’s medical record, as your veterinarian knows your furry pal’s normal if they become sick. Although each test has a normal value range, not every pet’s results follow the laboratory result handbook. If your veterinarian is aware that your pet’s normal values are outside the average normal range, they will not be concerned. They know to expect this result because they have retested your furry pal many times throughout the years.
  • Monitoring trends and patterns over the years — While your pet’s normal values may be normal for them, if they fall outside the typical range, your veterinarian will still want to monitor them closely. Over the years, your pet’s test results may change slightly. Because they have tested your pet frequently through the years—if your furry pal is trending toward a negative change—your veterinarian can take early action to halt or slow disease progression.

Your pet will feel as good as they look when our Stone Ridge veterinarian gives them a clean bill of health after evaluating their routine wellness screening tests. To celebrate the good news, schedule your furry pal’s grooming appointment with our Pet Resort at Stone Ridge team.