Your wellness exam will include talking about your pet’s dental care, guiding you on age appropriate vaccines and discussing parasite control based on your particular environmental factors.
In a wellness exam your veterinarian will look at the outward appearance of your pet’s health as well as recommend tests to look for potential warning signs. Laboratory tests can uncover many conditions that can be prevented, controlled or completely reversed if diagnosed early.
There are five basic tests that can evaluate your pets health and help you make better decisions about your pet’s healthcare. The wellness exam helps your veterinarian set benchmarks to be able to know what is normal for your pet and recognize potential problems before they become serious issues.
CBC (Complete Blood Count)
This blood test screens for anemia, infection, inflammation and the overall health of your pet’s blood cells. It evaluates the number and type of cells in circulation. These counts can indicate potential problems before they become serious health concerns, allowing you to be pro-active in the treatment of your pet and possibly catching illnesses before they become serious. White blood cells help fight infection or inflammation and red blood cells carry oxygen to the tissues. Abnormal counts can help your veterinarian determine if further action should be considered.
Chemistry tests are used to evaluate various functions of health in the liver, kidney and pancreas as well as muscle and bone. These tests show “levels” that fall with in the “normal” “high” or “low” range. Addressing issues earlier helps prevent damage that may be life threatening by the time your pet displays obvious symptoms. Understanding these levels will help your veterinarian guide you on possible lifestyle and/or dietary changes that will improve your pet’s long term prognosis or a course of treatment to avoid serious problems later.
Thyroid Function Tests
As with humans, a properly functioning thyroid has a strong impact on a pet’s overall health. Hypothyroidism (too little thyroid hormone) is more common in dogs. Hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid hormone) is more common in older cats. Both problems offer effective treatments, especially if detected before they have a chance to cause organ damage.
The “UA” (urinalysis)
The urinalysis tests the health and functions of the urinary system. It is especially important in older animals to help in early detection of kidney disease. While the chemistry tests help evaluate function, much more information can be obtained through the UA. It is best to do the urinalysis in conjunction with the chemistry tests for optimum information. The urinalysis will also detect infections or other potential risks common in younger pets such as crystals and/or bladder infections.
Testing for parasites
Fecal analysis (stool sample) is used to look for hookworms, whipworms, roundworms, coccidia, Girardia and other intestinal parasites that can cause mild to intense, even fatal, illnesses.
Blood serum should be tested for the presence of heartworm on an annual basis. Whole blood can be examined in anemic animals for other parasites like Babesia, Hemobartonella or Cytauxzoon.
It is recommended that you take your cat or dog in at least once per year for a check up, just like you would any “child” that you love.